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Is phonics the only way to improve spelling and reading in ks1?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by teejay100000, May 22, 2011.

  1. Are you a teacher?
  2. Phonics is essential for initial literacy teaching - for roughly the first year of learning to read and write. Beyond that, English literacy acquistion becomes more and more a matter of memorisation.
    Many children grasp the letter-to-sound correspondences of the English spelling code in a few months and start to rote-learn to read words like 'said, any, could, would, through...'.
    For spelling, phonics is of even more limited use in English, because 4 words in 7 contain one or more unpredictable letters, and identical words are often spelt differently: to/two/too, sea/see, right/write.
    For reading, only 1 in 4 is of the 'said, only, through', kind, but their proportion is higher is the most used English words.
    U might find my blog http://englishspellingproblems.blogspot.com of help and interest.
  3. CarrieV

    CarrieV Lead commenter

  4. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    be fair! it helps if you arehaving trouble sleeping
  5. CarrieV

    CarrieV Lead commenter

    Possibly if you hit him/her over the head with it[​IMG]
  6. choccietwirl

    choccietwirl New commenter

    It does depend on how young, young children are. Phonics first but then move into letter strings for things such as ing, ed . Handwriting is another way to reinforce spelling patterns. In order to use visual patterns, children need to be fairly good readers and to have seen the letter patterns (strings ) often enough to recognise them.
  7. Hi,
    Here's a list of various early years literacy products that are currently on the market:
  8. That sums it up beautifully.
    Some of the tricky words take some learning.
    Hardly anyone would ever misread or misspell that word if it was spelt 'sed'.
    The irregular spellings are responsible for making both learning to read and to write English harder and more time-consuming than literacy acquisition in other languages.
    I had very clear proof of this again on Sunday morning when My 5-1/2-yr-old granddaughter read Magnificent Mummies to me. She had no trouble decoding some very long words (mummies, bandages, remembered, investigate, appointment, magnificent) but kept stumbling over 'brought, laughed, eight, none, water, flooding, sheiks, pyramid, climbed'.
    And relatively quite surprisingly, also 'very'. But when u think of 'ferry, merry, Jerry, berry' this is not so surprising after all. Perhaps she had been doing a lot with doubled consonants at school in the couple of last weeks?
  9. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    [​IMG] ooops!
  10. Fantastic reading from your granddaughter, Masha.
    How did you support her with the words she struggled with?
  11. Mainly by just saying 'that's a tricky word'. She then knows she did not read it right, stops and tries to work it out, using the decodable letters in the words and context and meaning.
    She is now at the stage of reading for meaning and getting very fluent. She can already read the majority of high frequency common words by sight (e.g. one, there, here, was, said...). When alerted to a 'tricky' word, she tries to work it out and mostly succeeds. But she needed quite a bit of help with 'laughed, coughed, eight, sheiks' and 'flooding'.
    She also said to me at the end,
    'U know that book u made for me, grandma, for learning to read. That's too easy for me now. U'll have to make me another one."
    I explained that she will now just get better and better at reading, by simply reading - that she did not need any more books for learning to read. I think her school teaches reading very well, with very structured phonics to start with. Her parents have both also been very very conscientious about reading all the books she brought home for homework every day and the sheets with common tricky words. But her mother told me that she has also regularly worked with my book too, by herself, before going to sleep.
    I hope Maisie or someone else won't immediately accuse me again of trying to plug my 'little book'. But I am very pleased the way her reading has come on since starting in R last September. And maybe my book helped a little. But I remember that my daughter learned to read long before starting school, with just minimal help from me. My husband and I just talked and read to her a lot. But our son was completely different. He struggled and needed lots of help.
  12. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Masha, which book of yours is it that your g.d. says is too easy now?
    I was using one of your little books last night to improve a school spelling list. I noticed something for your next edition of Rules and Exceptions of English Spelling:
    page 14 says: the /ch/ sound has no alternative spellings other than <tch> after short vowels, BUT: which, much, such, touch
    page 36: -tch This is used for the /ch/ sound after short vowels but not in: rich, much, such, touch, which
    So "rich" could be added to the list on page 14. Is rich, much, such, touch, which the complete list of all exceptions in the English language?

    Now I'm having another of my little dilemmas. My year 2 daughter received another of those spelling lists from school with one grapheme for a phoneme in it this week. It's the grapheme tch for the ch sound. I haven't shown her the list yet, but I asked her how many ways she could think of to spell the ch sound - she told me the two alternatives. I then asked her when she would use tch and when ch. She said she would use tch at the end of a word, and ch somewhere else in a word.
    As her spelling list is itch, scratch, fetch etc ----- all short vowels and words ending in tch this will help confirm her incorrect conclusion. So if I give her this list without any other accompanying discussion (they don't talk about the spellings at school they copy them out a few more times during the week as well as demanding that we do 4 Look Say Cover Write Checks at home) when she next does some writing I can predict I will see mutch, ritch, artch, portch etc - very logical, but not correct.
    So I have gone through and made some improvements to the spelling list ........ but then I sit back and think that I never did any of this, and I have never had any problems spelling rich, or larch, or itch or scratch.
    This then makes me think there are two choices - not to go near the spelling homework as I personally think it will make things worse not better, or to do my improved, but probably quite unnecessary version. If I go for the former my DD1 will be kept in for not doing her homework and if I go for the latter I feel her time would be better spent reading .... maybe looking out for these points while she reads, or not bothering at all if it spoils a good read.
    This has become a daily problem as we now receive a spelling list each week with just one grapheme in it for a particular phoneme ..... last week was ai.
    I am considering passing the year 2 homework down to my reception child ....... sorry that's another possibility.

    Is phonics the only way to improve spelling in KS1 - I think it's great if you employ it the way Debbie and Msz do,but it's not the only way as there are plenty of people who spell extremely well who never did synthetic phonics. It's more a case of what's best for the majority.
    It's a resounding NO if you go about it the wrong way. I think if you go about it the wrong way it could perhaps be worse than not doing it at all. Maybe if you hammer over the early stages of phonics again and again for too long the mispellings get too ingrained in long term memory.

  13. Learning to Read. (I hope I won't be accused of spamming for replying to u.) I 'made' it mainly for children who don't get much help at home rather then the likes of my g.d. But Darwin carried forward ideas first voiced by his grandfather, so who knows where my efforts might lead one day?
    Thanks for pointing out the inconsistent listing of -ch words in the spelling book. Despite umpteen checkings, a few errors always slip in. I had spotted that one while recently producing another version of the book for an Indian publisher. Also: 'comb' is missing from exceptions to the 'home, tome' pattern. 'Plait' (p8) is not an exception to 'late, date' but 'fat, cat'. And p. 29 should include 'engine, examine' along with 'famine, medicine...)
    The complete list of -ch after a short stressed vowel is: rich, which; much, such, touch; attach, detach.
    Teaching English spelling is simply a bit of nightmare. And quite a few people are beginning to think that
    Many teachers of older pupils are now claiming that they are noticing an increase phonemic spellings (rather than 'correct' spellings) and think that this is due too much phonics in the early years. I think if u go for systematic teaching of spelling, (itch, stitch, ditch, witch...) then HF words which are different (rich, which) should be taught as well.
    But the whole process of learning to spell English 'correctly' to a high degree of accuracy takes at least 10 years, and much of it is picked up through reading. It's very difficult to use systematic teaching for something that is highly unsystematic. The consonants are not so bad, apart from the dodgy logic of consonant doubling or short vowel marking with ck, tch and dg.
    For the vowels, there just has to be quite a bit of Look Say Cover Write Check. As pupils get older, they learn predominantly from their mistakes, I think.
  14. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Thank you I am copying your corrections into my little booklet now and looking up the reading book.

    To an earlier poster, no I didn't use Masha's book to hit my DH with when I won the argument. It's not a large enough tome to inflict any injury - it was word power rather than muscle power that won the day.

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