Sunday, March 29, 2015

Dyslexia – Some questions and suggested answers


Are there children who find it more difficult to learn to read than a majority of children?
The answer should be a resounding yes as there are research reports and newspaper reports stating that all over the world about 20% of children are illiterate in the English language when they leave school.

How many of the roughly 20% of children can become good readers after intervention?
Almost 90% of these children can be taught to read with intervention as recorded by many researchers.

Friday, March 27, 2015

My current 'Shut down' student - Part 2


We agreed to teach Steve 3 times a week for one hour each time. We also informed his parents that we would be able to teach him only until the end of March.

From day one (25.1.2015) we started writing out 5 Dolch words a day and asked his mother to make sure he knows how to spell those words on his next visit.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

My current ‘shut-down’ student - 2015


My current student Steve (not his real name) came to us on 25.1.2015. A mother of one of our former students had introduced Steve’s mother to us. (I have given him this nickname as he is well built and if he does bodybuilding exercises he will be like the legendary Steve Reeves).

Steve will be 9 in October this year and has been retained in primary 2 because he was not able to read at grade level.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Linkedin – Forum on how to teach reluctant and struggling readers- Final Part


Individualistic views and opinions have no place in training teachers in the "science of reading".
There will be tremendous improvements when teachers gain this kind of training.
Phonemes are speech sounds.

My thoughts: I believe this is the problem. If the Science of Reading has been taught for the last donkey years why are there kids who shut down? Why has the rate of illiterate students leaving school not reduced since 1970?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Linkedin – Forum on how to teach reluctant and struggling readers- Part 3 of 4


As mentioned in my previous post the exchanges in the forum are all academic. 
I disagree because we teach the 44 phonemes of the English language and their graphemes (around 90) to achieve reading and spelling proficiency.
This is the science of reading.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Linkedin – Forum on how to teach reluctant and struggling readers- Part 2


An interesting discussion
I've watched the wider arguments between those who argue for Synthetic Phonics as it's now called, who seem convinced that you always teach letter-by-letter f-u-r as well as c-a-t
And those who are convinced you teach using Onset and rime f/ur as well as c/at. (Apparently, now it is called Analytic Phonics, at least by advocates of the former method.)
It's the first that has won the political battle. But as yet I've never seen any convincing evidence that discriminates between the effectiveness of either, from either camp.
I assume that outside of the purist camp of Synthetic Phonics f/ur would be acceptable for use by ordinary working teachers.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Linkedin – Forum on how to teach reluctant and struggling readers


This is an extract from a forum on literacy for reluctant and struggling readers on LinkedIn. I have changed all the names of the people who had commented.

I recently overheard 2 reading specialists hotly debating the use of r-controlled vowels in the phonemes er, ir and ur. One was insistent that they should be taught as one sound and the other as two.

Let’s use the example “Fur” – As a Brit living in the States, I’d be interested to hear the different opinions of whether this should be taught “f_u_r” OR “f_ur” – Any thoughts? Does this differ from State to State?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Teaching reluctant and struggling learners


I have spent a lot of time thinking about the discussion in a forum under ‘Literacy for Reluctant and Struggling Readers’ on LinkedIn and have tried to figure out if any suggestions there that can help to ease the confusion of dyslexic students. At the end of the day I still feel that dyslexic students will be confused and will ask me just as many questions as they have asked me. 
I have students who have asked me why ‘was’ is spelled that way and not ‘wos’. Why had I pronounced ‘as’ the way I did and now sound out ‘was’ which has the ‘as’ in it another way? One student had asked me why I had taught him to sound ‘on’ the way I did and yet pronounce ‘station’ the way it sounded. These are the ‘shut-down’ kids. They always ask the question ‘why’. In school when they are not told explicitly that many letters and letter combinations have different sounds they shut down.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Dyslexia - Why kids shut down


Teachers teach us the sounds/phonemes of the alphabet as: A apple, B bed, C cat, D dog E elephant and so on. Everyone will and can learn this with no problem at all.

Then when they start teaching us to read, the NIGHTMARE begins for the 20% of kids who are later considered stupid or lazy. These kids are neither stupid nor are they lazy. These are the kids who need to be instructed explicitly on anything different from what they have been taught. These are the kids who ‘shut down’ when they are confused.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Phonological awareness and phonics -Part 2


Teachers are struggling to teach kids to read. Around 20% of kids in many countries where English is taught can barely read in English.

In the US in January 2001, President George W. Bush announced his plan called “No Child Left Behind”.

Now, in 2015 after 15 years the percentage of children who can barely read in English remains the same as it was in 2001 which again was the same as it was in the 70’s.

The main thing kids do in school is learn to read, and when they don't, they feel stupid. So how can we prevent reading failure?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Phonological awareness and phonics - Part 1


The terms "phonemic awareness", “phonological awareness” and "phonics" are often used in the field of education. Some writers use them interchangeably, yet they mean different things and have different roles as children begin to read.  There seems to be quite a bit of confusion over the terms “phonological awareness”, “phonemic awareness” and “phonics”

The English language has 44 phonemes. Words are produced by stringing these sounds together. The ability to manipulate and distinguish these phonemes as they are used in words is called phonemic awareness. It is a natural skill developed in children through talking and listening to other speakers of their language.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Do dyslexics have a phonological awareness deficit


I wrote the following article on 7th February 2011 and I am reposting it with the current date.

For a year I have written that phonological awareness deficit is not the cause of dyslexic children being unable to read. Recently I found an article on the net echoing what I have been saying. I believe there will be more such articles in the future. New generation of researchers will challenge the 30 over years old "Phonological awareness deficit" theory.

Friday, March 13, 2015

"Quality of English teachers matter"


Quality of English teachers matter
The above was the headline of page 9 of our local newspaper – The Daily Express.
We read similar headlines every year after the school results have been announced.
However, has the percentage of those who fail their English language reduced in the last 10 years?
If the answer is ‘no’ should we not ask ourselves “WHY NOT?”

Wednesday, March 11, 2015



‘Disengaged students’ or students who have ‘shut down’

All the 'dyslexic' students I have taught over the past 11 years have no problem reading in the Malay language. Those who study in Chinese schools can also read fluently in Romanised Chinese (Hanyu Pinyin).

I believe many children cannot read but do not have many of the problems included in many definitions of dyslexia on the internet. This web log is not for parents of kids who have a ‘Auditory Processing Disorder’ or acuity problem. This web log is for kids who cannot read in the English Language because they have shut down or disengaged themselves from what the teacher teaches. They disengage because the English language does not make sense to them. Kids shut-down when teachers do not teach these kids that many of the letters of the alphabet in the English language represent more than one phoneme (sound). As such a majority of the kids who end up being unable to read are simply kids who have shut down or disengaged from what is being taught because they have not been taught correctly.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Dyslexia - A new beginning...

A New Beginning


When the world says, “Give up,” Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”
 ~ Author Unknown

I had lost my blog title and could not renew my web log. My previous web log was at: However, my son managed to retrieve the blog posts and we have opened a new account. I will post some of the previous posts as we go along.

I have decided to write again as I am currently teaching a ‘learning disabled’ kid ( I don’t like that term but…) and I see the same pattern as in all my previous students. I think ‘Disengaged learners’ would better describe these students. They shut down when things taught to them do not make sense to them.