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Don't forget to look at the how to guide.
Discussion in 'Early Years' started by mancminx, Jul 20, 2011.
You naughty girl, maizie. And on the early years forum as well!
Agreed, but what I was pointing out was that it is generally only in words beginning with /w/ that 'a' behaves in this way, so 'a' sounded as /a/ is much more common. In my understanding 'a' sounded as /a/ gets taught first before the possible exceptions in smaller numbers of words (or digraphs/trigraphs) containing an 'a'. So compare 'swap' with 'map', 'lap', 'sap', 'wrap' .....
Not really, it depends which way you look at it. If you teach 'wa' as 'wo' then yes, but I don't think that is generally the case in SP, which breaks words down into their phonemes. If you teach 'w' as /w/ and 'a' as /a/ then you will have to teach your 'a following w rule' as an exception to the first principles.
I think a code that has more than one option for the same grapheme, digraph or trigraph is pretty complex, simple would be when the sound/letter correspondence was always consistent. But I suppose it's a matter of opinion.
Thank you for proving my point. If it was not an exception that 'wa' is sounded 'wo' you would not have to write that mis-spelling.
Yes. I wasn't referring to that specific combination. I was thinking more of words such as 'were' 'because' 'very' 'own' 'eye'.
I have to admit it was this post that inspired me to think of that 'wa' exception. You know, the one that 'wouldn't get past the rude word filter...'
Sorry can't quote properly, but this is what Maizie or Teejay said while back on this thread:
(e.g. why can you not decode "all"? al is code for /or/ in many words
(talk, walk, stalk, tall, ball, hall.....)) (why is "come" not
decodeable? c always says /c/ before o, o says /o/, /oo/, /oa/ or /u/, m
says /m/ and e is usually silent on the end of a word. Teach children
this code and they will have a choice between pronouncing the word as -
com, ***, coam, coom. Clearly two are not words. It will not be
difficult to work out whether the word is come or comb.
That is all very true. But at the time that a young child is likely to be learning to read or write these high frequency words they are not likely to have learned all these different ways that a particular phoneme can be spelled. So although the argument is true, I'm not sure how relevant it would feel to many reception class teachers. And then, even those using an "approved" phonics programme may still not know or be teaching the "extended" code to the level that this argument presupposed. For example, if you look at speed sounds set three in Read Write Inc and the associated sound cards that can be purchase with the programme you will see that they list three graphemes only for the /or/ phoneme - or, aw, and au. Al, is not mentioned ( as in talk etc,) ough (as in ought, bought) is not mentioned, and neither is augh ( as in taught, daughter etc).
When else does o say /u/ - I'm not good at thinking up examples like that off the top of my head and I haven't got Masha's book to hand!
The brain can interpret sounds, but we read letters, graphemes or pictographs,
and because the sounds of English letters and graphemes are not consistent, learning to read it is much harder than in other languages, e.g.
the swan swam away on the water when it saw the dog wag its tail.
The 69 graphemes with variable sounds are listed at
This shows all the relatively common tricky words which the unreliable graphemes create
The link takes me to a list of words where the letter a is pronounced in a handful of different ways. It really is not as problematic as you think. the letter a will usually say /a/ or /ay/. In some words (usually preceded by /w/) it will say /o/. Occasionally it says /ar/ such as in father. Depending on your accent it will say /ar/ more often past, grass, etc. These rules are simple to learn and made easier if you teach a bit of flexibility (Debbie on here calls it "tweaking"). It is far more effective to teach these rules and consolidate them with practice that to advocate learning words as wholes or, as I believe you have sometimes suggested, changing the entire spelling system that has evolved over 100s of years.
No, not too problematic, and even less so once you know a few words by heart, as they can guide you in the tweaking process. And for some words (and yes, they are decodable in your code that embraces as much complexity as you find necessary), it makes sense to learn the whole word by heart, because you are going to come across it again and again before you've reached the right stage in your systematically taught code (think of it as a single unit of the code -why not?). But if your teacher tells you have to refer to your internal codebook each time you come across a new word they are doing you a disservice. As with any code, once you have established some principles instinct takes over (ie cognitive shortcuts).
I am sure you are right Thumbie, otherwise it would not be possible to learn to read without ever using phonics. I am one of the generation who learned to read without it.
For some strange reason I do remember someone holding up some flashcards in front of me in an infant school classroom at the age of 6 or 7 (when I had already been reading for a long while) and saying "what sound does this make?" I still to this day remember that it was a "p", and I remember thinking what kind of question is that, how do I make the right sound without knowing what comes after the "p", and why are you expecting me to make stupid noises at this point in time?
When I first came across Jolly Phonics at my children's pre-school this old memory came flooding back. However, by that stage in my life I could see a point to it as a helpful part of learning to read.
I am not sure whether learning to read by the phonic method is better than learning by the whole word method, because in the end reading proficiency is simply being able to read the 6000 or so common words by sight instantly.
What counts is practice.
There has been no research that compares the two methods properly. Schools that have gone in for more rigorous phonics have usually also adopted a much more systematic approach to the teaching of reading as a whole and given more time to it. This would produce better outcomes with all approaches.
I realise that improving the spelling system is not something that appeals to many people, partly because they have been taught to believe wrongly that it
English spelling was messed up in just a few decades, mainly by foreign printers who spoke no English,
but if Johnson had been even just the slightest bit interested in helping ordinary people to learn to read and write he could have undone their damage, as well as that inflicted by early scribes with spellings like 'done, some, come'.
With prevailing opinions, and no real desire for higher overall literacy, English spelling is unlikely to be improved any time soon, but improving it would undoubtedly make learning to read and write English much easier than it is
What a very strange definition of 'being able to read'.
How about having the ability to read the other 244,000ish words in the English lexicon?
you don't need those to read Masha's lists
And anyone who can read all the words on my lists is a highly fluent reader.
Those who claim that the English lexicon contains nearly a quarter of million words exaggerate.
1. Because they count derivatives separately.
My OED claims '350,000 words, phrases and definitions', but many of them are derivatives, e.g. 'enthuse, enthusiasm, enthusiast, enthusiastic'. I would count just the root word 'enthuse' for such.
2. Many of the words (entisol, entoproct) are hardly ever used or are not really English words at all (meranti, merbau, posada).
English dictionaries may contain more words than those of other languages, but the number of root words speakers of English use is no greater than that used by others.
The Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words. To this may be added around 9,500 derivative words included as subentries. Over half of these words are nouns, about a quarter adjectives, and about a seventh verbs; the rest is made up of exclamations, conjunctions, prepositions, suffixes, etc. And these figures don't take account of entries with senses for different word classes (such as noun and adjective).
This suggests that there are, at the very least, a quarter of a million distinct English words, excluding inflections, and words from technical and regional vocabulary not covered by the OED, or words not yet added to the published dictionary, of which perhaps 20 per cent are no longer in current use. If distinct senses were counted, the total would probably approach three quarters of a million.
It seems the OED disagrees masha
I suggest you take it up with David Crystal, then.
He actually claims more than I do, and he is talking of lexemes; i.e. different words, not derivatives of the same root word.
I quote (The Stories of English p 317) '...all the lexemes found in the largest British dictionary (over half a million in the OED)....Not all the lexemes are in current use, of course; the OED in particular is a historical dictionary, with c.100,000 of its senses marked as obsolescent or obsolete. But let us assume that the remaining 400,000 lexemes in the OED accurately represent Modern English vocabulary...'
He also talks about a study to determine the size of an (educated) adult vocabulary, which came up with an average of 50,000 lexemes . So, even that would leave a reader 44,000 words short.
AND he estimated the number of lexemes in The Sun newspaper at 6,000. I rather think that many 'proficient' readers would want to read something a bit more erudite than The Sun...
Heavens. Is David Crystal wrong, or is there an even larger edition? Perhaps we should query this on his blog?