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.

My thoughts: I believe everyone in Malaysia was only taught grapheme/phoneme relationships. They were taught only one of the phonemes of each letter. As we read the teacher would talk about some of the combinations and the sound they made. We were specifically taught consonant blends, digraphs and schwa, etc when we were in primary 5 or 6, but by that time we had already learned how to read. When we finished form 5 (11th grade) we could all read fluently.
Terry wrote about “the purist camp of synthetic phonics”. I suppose I belong to that camp in that I would not teach analytic phonics, memorising whole words or guessing from context. However, once you understand the principles of synthetic phonics, you can be flexible. If a teacher analyses ‘ur’ in fur with ‘a’ ‘t’ in ‘cat’, that teacher has not understood the principles, because ‘a’ and ‘t’ are separate sounds, whereas with ‘ur’ it is not so clear and that is why there is this debate.

I agree with everyone who has said that the ‘r’-controlled vowels are best taught as one sound. I am sure they would all agree that ‘a’ ‘t’ as in ‘cat’ should be taught as two sounds. My point is that if you are teaching a child from the Shetland Isles and that child reads ‘girl’ by sounding and blending /g/../i/../r/../l. and gets ‘girl’ the way that child pronounces it, that is fine with me – same idea for spelling.

Liz you said:" I was intrigued to hear that someone might do it differently, and wondered what their reasoning might be!" It could be that the teacher wants his students to remember that each alphabet contributes to the sound a word makes. I don't see why one cannot teach that way and then explain 'blending' and that 'ur' together make xxx sound. The child should be taught blending  (when the time is appropriate) and how the 2 alphabets blend to give the new sound. This will prevent a child shutting down.

You may find the 44 sounds in the English language on this site: http://specialed.about.com/od/readingliteracy/a/44Sounds.htm

Luqman, this is an interesting analysis.

I suggest you do not include ‘blends’. There is no need for these. Pupils do not need to be taught ‘br’, because it represents two sounds (phonemes) that can be separated and then blended: /b/ and /r/. This reduces the burden on memory enormously. There are around 42 sounds (phonemes) that can be pronounced on their own, but if consonant blends are included as single sounds, there are between 150 and 200 sounds to learn.

My thoughts: I agree with this lady. Combine the alphabet when you come across that word. Each alphabet has a sound. No need to teach all the combinations. The above list is extracted from the internet.

Liz, I am with you completely. I do not teach the 44 sounds above. In fact, after posting the 44 sounds above, I was discussing with my wife how I teach my dyslexic students. We discussed many of the sounds mentioned on the site and I asked my wife but she could not answer me either. I have been teaching my dyslexic students that all the vowels in the English language have more than one sound (I don't use the word phoneme as I learned it only about 10 years ago- no need to teach kids words they don't need to learn while in primary 1 or 2.) So, my question to my wife was: "If we teach my dyslexic students that there is a short e as in pen and a long e as in beef how would I explain the following sounds represented by the letter e- 
E as in each, equal,
E as in earn, early,
E as in ebony, echo,
E as in eight, eighty,
E as in either,
E as in ewe

We both decided that since our dyslexic students can read well with our teaching style, let us stick with it. All we are interested in is to make sure our students learn to read and this we have been very successful at.

              Where there is a will there is a way. ~ English proverb

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