Monday, December 28, 2020

Orthographic Mapping – ‘A’ for apple. – Kathryn and Jenifer conversation (Part 3)

Somehow NONSENSE makes a lot of sense to most of the people around the world.

Let us look at the absurdity of the following statements by the two ‘educators’.

‘A’ stands for apple but changes a little bit depending on the letters before it or after it. So, it doesn’t sound exactly the same. The idea of a phoneme is a construct that is not true. (Dr. Kathryn Garforth)

It’s a simplification to think about phonemes as having a single sound, however our brains are able to cope with that slight variability in that co-articulation that happens according to the consonant or vowel that’s on the other side. (Jennifer Buckingham)

My comment: How absurd can these educators get! I had given Kathryn and Jennifer the link to my YouTube video which gives a list of different sounds represented by the vowels. I have also said that even the consonants represent different sounds. Kathryn had said on Twitter that she will not read my posts unless I pay her. She does not read my blog posts because my posts are not peer reviewed, she said.

It is now obvious that Kathryn had avoided the question by Jedlie on his RWYK podcast because she did not know the response to his following question:

"We teach that ‘c’ is for cat and ‘a’ is for apple. We are not letting them know early enough that ‘a’ is for apple most of the time but there are other times when ‘a’ makes (represents) a different sound. When should we introduce that idea to the kids?"

You may read more of the podcast at

I had tagged Kathryn when I posted my blog post and if she had read it she will not be spitting into the sky (a Malay proverb) like she has now.


I had mentioned in my blog as well as in my YouTube channel the fact that kids, predisposed to shutting down, disengage when they are not told that letters represent more than one sound.

It is very disappointing to note that trained and experienced teachers are unaware of this fact as pointed out by me in my post at

Is it any wonder why the reading wars have been going on for decades?

‘A’ stands for apple but changes a little bit depending on the letters before it or after it. (Kathryn)

… our brains are able to cope with that slight variability in that co-articulation that happens according to the consonant or vowel that’s on the other side. (Jennifer Buckingham)

I simply cannot understand how such words can be uttered by PhD holders. Someone please tell me how the sound changes a little bit depending on the letters before or after it. Please tell me what ‘slight variability in that co-articulation that happens according to the consonant or vowel that’s on the other side’, in the following words.

A as in able, alien, angel

A as in axe, accent, apple

A as in agree, ahead, allow

A as in art, arctic, arc

A as in all, always, awe

There are no letters ‘before’ the letter ‘a’ in the above words (‘the sounds change a little bit depending on the letters before it – Kathryn - does not apply).

There are 3 words, in the above list  of words,with the letter ‘l’ after the letter ‘a’; alien, allow, all. The letter ‘a’ in all 3 words represent a different sound.

As such I hope either Dr. Kathryn Garforth or Jennifer Buckingham will expand on their statements above.


Anonymous said...

Hi LM,
The example given by you refutes the claim that the sound of letter A changes with the letter before or after it. Obviously, there is something wrong or questionable with the statement made by Dr.Kathryn.
I remember in our Tamizh language something similar situation, but does not cause any problem. The sounds of some letters assume 2 different tones,Soft, hard, depending on the charatcer preceeding that letter: Examples: (1) காகம் =kaakam(Crow), pronounced kaaham. க assumes a soft h tone.
(2) முழக்கம்= muzhakkam (thunder), pronounced muzhakkam - க assumes a hard tone.
(3) கலசம்=kalasam (cup), pronounced kalasam - ச assumes a soft sa tone.
(4) வெளிச்சம்=velichcham (light), pronounced velichcham -
ச assumes a ch hard tone.

I understand that the differing sound tones Tamizh are naturally occuring, that is due to the physiology of our tounge. There is no other way to pronounce. Ex: காகம்-kaakam, say when you pronounce kaakam (with hard k) it would be written as kaakkam - காக்கம் and not காகம். Hope this is of help.

Luqman Michel said...

Thank you, Sir. In the future, a pseudonym may be useful to address you.
The fact is all vowels have 3 or more sounds they represent. Unfortunately, most teachers are not aware of this, thus causing many kids, predisposed to shutting down to shut down from learning to read.

Kathryn said...

First of all you are taking the suggestion of you paying for my time way out of context. You had sent me to a list of blog post at a time that was crazy in my life where it was hard enough for me to find enough time for my paying clients. If it was so important for you to have me to read your post right then and there, dropping everything in my life you would have to pay me for it.

Since then, I have read a few of you blog posts and I don't find them particularly educational as they seem to be you being very derogatory towards others. I find it to be a better use of my time to read a post from The Reading Ape or Timothy Shanahan. Their post are based on facts and spreading knowledge and not focused on insult others and implying that all reading problems are caused by teaching phonics with extraneous sounds.

Construct was not the right word for me to use in that sentence but in a live conversation you don't have the luxury to go back and edit the conversation. The point I was trying to make was that the way we articulate phonemes in isolation is different than they may sound when pronounced in words. If you would like to read more about what I mean read this

I am well aware of the different vowel phonemes in the English language and I do not need to be referred to you post to learn about them.

With 44 phonemes (give or take depending on dialect) in the English language, there are graphemes that represent more than one phoneme. The change of the vowel sounds in the word you have given in your post are not do to coarticulation reason but the fact that the grapheme 'a' is representing different phonemes in these words: /ˈeɪliən/, /əˈlaʊ/, /ɔːl/

This is a just another example of you taking some piece of a conversation out of context and twisting it so you can make a point. This is why I prefer peer review articles over your blog posts. The way your posts are written, I don't feel like I can take your word as an effective summary of the source you are referring to.

I have not avoided your questions about the Jedlie conversation, I simply not had the time to put into answering. I try to put my family first. When teaching my 3 children at home during covid while trying to work and take care of everything else in life keeps me extremely busy. In my rare down moments I don't feel like responding to you. There is such thing as taking time for yourself.

Luqman Michel said...

Thank you for your comment Dr. Kathryn.

Paying for your time – thank you for your explanation. That is not the impression I got from what you had written on Twitter. Did you for a moment think what other readers will think of you?

Dr. please do not generalize. My blog posts are read by hundreds if not thousands of readers from around the world.

If telling the truth is an insult, then so be it. If you would care to specify or comment on posts that you have read telling me who I have insulted I may be able to address it.

You have mentioned Timothy Shanahan. I have written several posts on him. He vomits out what has been written by others just the same way as you do. When something new is mentioned he asks for evidence. When evidence is given he wriggles his way out as he did in 2017 after having said, in 2015, that phonological awareness deficit is the cause of reading difficulties. He was the guy who asks for evidence that consonants should not be taught with extraneous sounds. What a silly thing to say that I should provide evidence to support the fact (not an opinion) that consonants should not be taught with extraneous sounds.

I take the time and trouble to comment on Timothy's posts and he does not even bother to respond.

Please do everyone a favour and say when I have been derogatory with whom and I will respond.

I never did say that all reading problems are caused by teaching phonics with extraneous sounds. I have always maintained that there are 3 main problems in kids learning to decode. Do tell me and my readers any other problems that can cause a kid, with no acuity problems, to shut down from learning to decode. We will go on from there.

There is only one way to teach sounds represented by consonants and that is to teach them without extraneous sounds. Period. If you want to discuss anything sensibly then I request you to be specific. Listen to the 5 videos that will take less than 15 minutes and then tell me what you do not agree with.

You should read my post on what Daniel Kahneman had said about peer-reviewed reports. So, stop talking about peer-reviewed material and specifically say what you disagree with regarding my posts that you have read.

Yes, do take time for yourself and for your family. Nothing else is more important. When you do have a spare moment you may comment on any of my posts that you think I have insulted anyone wrongly.

Did you apologise for saying that I did not approve your comments? No! You did not. What impression do you think you created among the Twitter readers? You can say what you like but my readers know that I allow all comments and I respond to them.

My blog is not moderated as I welcome any and all comments and I always respond to all comments.

I wish you well.