Tuesday, October 23, 2012

To teach or not to teach - Phonics


One of my first students, a girl refused to say the word fox despite being repeatedly asked to repeat after me. I have written about this in my article dated 17th February 2010. Children prone to disengaging shut down when something illogical is taught to them.

My student refused to say the word fox as she had learnt from her former tuition teacher that the phoneme for the letter 'f' is “Fur/Fer”. As such, to her, the word fox cannot be sounded out the way I had sounded it out. If the alphabet ‘F’ carried the sound fer/fur then the word ‘fox’ must be sounded out as ‘fur-ox’. As such she had refused to say it the way I had pronounced it.

Now, I would have expected this kind of wrong teaching of phonemes in countries where English is taught as a second language. However, I just found out that it is rampant in the US, Australia and the UK too. No wonder the rate of illiteracy in these countries is on the increase.

I have friends on facebook who keep advocating teaching phonics but do not know what phonics is all about. Children predisposed to disengaging from learning to read will shut down if phonics is taught in the wrong way. Please listen to the soundtracks here to hear how letters of the alphabet are mispronounced. This is on a website that supposedly teaches Phonics to beat dyslexia.”

The reader gives the phoneme of the word ‘blue’ as “ beh leh oo”. A child predisposed to disengaging will surely be confused and shut down.

For a start the phoneme for the letters ‘b’ and ‘l’ are wrong. Secondly, here the letters ‘bl’ is a consonant blend and has one phoneme/sound and not two.

You may read the proper pronunciation as read by the teacher at Phonics International

Also do listen to the phonemes of individual letters and the consonant blend of ‘bl’ as pronounced accurately by Genki phonics.
 Phonics as taught by Genki Phonics

If phonemes of letters are not taught correctly to children predisposed to shutting down then you can be assured that the illiteracy rate in the UK, Australia and the US will continue rising.

I do hope my readers will ensure that the pronunciation of phonemes is being taught properly. There is no point on insisting on phonics if phonemes are not taught properly in the first place. Check on schools teaching "so-called Phonics" to make sure they are teaching it properly.

Your comments will be highly appreciated.


Unknown said...

Great article... any advice on spelling. My son is in 8th grade and struggling horribly with his spelling.

Luqman Michel said...

Thank you Jenn. With your son in 8th grade and not knowing how much he can spell- it is difficult to advice.Jenn, please do write to me at:
luqmanm2002@yahoo.co.uk and we may be able to come up with something. If you have Skype we may be able to discuss this on Skype.