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Literacy forum?

Discussion in 'English' started by LoopyFluff, Jun 20, 2011.

  1. It is clearly an important topic in secondary as much as in primary, but there is no forum on here for it. Does anyone know how we can get one?
  2. It is clearly an important topic in secondary as much as in primary, but there is no forum on here for it. Does anyone know how we can get one?
  3. No. But there is no reason why we cannot discuss topics like the teaching of reading, spelling, sentence structure, etc on here.
    I am very unpopular with some people for being critical of English spelling and drawing attention to some of the learning and teaching difficulties its inconsistencies cause. My comment on Opinion that one reason why many pupils are unlikely to pass the Ebac is because they have poor reading and writing skills earned me much ridicule there.
    I tried to explain why learning to read English is exceptionally difficult, as u can see below. Perhaps that is something which all teachers of English should be aware of?

    <font size="3" face="Calibri">If English spelling was like other European alphabetic writing systems,
    it would have around 50 spellings, something like the following 43 with a few extras, i.e. one spelling per sound, with just a few variants:</font>
    ai, air, ar,
    aw, b, ch,
    d, e, ee,
    er, f, g,
    h, i, ie,
    j, k, l,
    m, n, ng,
    o, oa, oi,
    oo, oo, or,
    ou, p, r,
    s, sh, -si- (vision), t,
    th, th, u,
    u-e, v-, w,
    x, z .

    <font size="3" face="Calibri">English has 164 main spellings and also another 33 which are used in
    only 5 words or less. Some don&rsquo;t involve extra learning for reading (such as the &ndash;er,
    -or, -ar endings). But in the course of learning to read, children have to
    learn to decode the following 123 spellings (or graphemes), and
    of those have more than one pronunciation:</font>

    a, -able,
    a-e, ai,
    air, al, all, ar, are,
    -ate, au, -augh,
    aw, -ay, b, ca/o/ut,
    cc, ce/i, ch, -cial, -ck,
    -cy, d, -dge,

    e, -e, ea, ear, ee, e-e, eigh,
    er, ere, eo, -et, eu, ew, -ey,
    f, ga/go/gu, ge-/gi,
    -ge, gn,

    h, i, -i, -ible,
    ie, i-e, -ie,
    -igh, ir,

    k, kn, l,
    le, m, mb, mn, n, ng,

    o, -o, oa, oar, o-e, -oe, oi, ol, oo,

    -oor, or, ore, ou, ough,
    oul, our, ow,

    p, ph, qu, qua, quar, r,
    -re, rh, s, sc, -se, sh, -sion,
    -ssion, -sure,

    t, -tch, th, -tion,
    -ture, u,
    -ue, ur,

    -ve, w, wa, war, wh, wo, wor, wr,

    x, y-, -y, --y, y-e, z .

    If u cannot think of variant pronunciations for some of the above graphemes, see


  4. I'm sure that the forum mods would look into creating a Literacy forum if there was a demand.
    The term Literacy tends to be used more in Primary and EYFS in my experience, though. In Secondary, whilst we are naturally concerned with literacy, we don't tend to label it as such, so you may find that a Literacy forum would predominantly attract KS1/2 teachers.

  5. You would probably be less criticized if you didn't just pick on English. Those who learn ours as a foreign language find the accidence remarkably simple, which is more than adequate compensation for the supposed difficulties of reading and spelling.
    Look at German, at the other extreme. Its accidence and syntax are more minutely prescribed, but are far more complex than those of English. Try this, as the kind of thing with which we struggle:
    When one this sentence into the German to translate wanted,would one the fact exploit, that the word order and the punctuation already with the German conventions agree.
    &mdash; and then thank your lucky stars that English is so simple that its students can spare a bit of effort in learning to cope with our eccentricities.
  6. this 'literacy' stuff drives me nuts. it should be called something else. 'literacy' is not a language exercise, it's not just about spelling and grammar, it's about the way people think/organise ideas/understand concepts ... it's a lot lot lot more complicated than learning how to spell or read ...
    it is not about english teaching and english teachers should not be made to feel it's their responsibility, it's about how teachers teach and students learn and as all teachers teach then all teachers are responsible for that thing that is called 'literacy' but that isn't really literacy at all...
    i could rant about this all night but i won't ...
    the limits of my language are the limits of my world and all that ... students need to be provided with a language with which to learn, then they'd become better learners ...
  7. ... and as to that 'English is really hard' excuse. It really isn't as hard to learn/spell/read as a lot of other languages ...
  8. I did not begin to learn English until the age of 14 and started German the year after. Several years later I ended up as a teacher of both languages in the UK.
    English is grammatically simple, apart from its irregular verbs. (Now having four grandchildren age nearly 2 to nearly 8, I have been reminded how hard they are and surprised how long even bright kids take to learn them.)
    German grammar is more complex, but when u learn it through usage, as I did living in Germany for a while, it's not difficult at all. And compared to English, learning to read and spell German is very easy. The nastiest thing about English is that learning to read it is much harder than any other European language.
    I learned to read German in a few weeks and then went on to improve my German by reading copiously. When I tried to do the same with English in a short time too, I quickly realised that this is impossible, because hundreds of English words are not completely decodable. U need to know what they sound like to be sure that u are reading them correctly. That's why I ended up coming to England as an au pair back in the 60's and ended up living here.
    My first language was Lithuanian, but from learning Russian, French, Spanish and a bit of Italian as well, I know that u can teach yourself to read most European languages quite easily without setting a foot in their countries. In English, it helps to have a good vocabulary to start with and having someone on hand who can help u on a regular basis. (I think that's the main reason for the generational cycles of poor literacy in many UK families.)
    I know that literacy is more than just reading and spelling, but when those two things are exceptionally hard, it's much more difficult to access it's other aspects.
  9. We talk about literacy in Secondary up here. Do we need a literacy forum or could there not just be a thread started about it? I've seen a few about Literacy Leaders in schools looking for ways to promote literacy across the curriculum. If you really want one you can petition the mods to set one up.
  10. Mashabell thinks that hardly anyone can spell consistently in English. I don't really think her opinions on what counts as literacy need be taken particularly seriously.
  11. You see, Masha, the problem I have with you is that you don't tell the truth. Or, you tell different truths on different sites.
    Elsewhere(The Spelling Society Site, for example,) you are described as the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee, born in Germany, and growing up in both Germany and Lithuania.
    So how come you claim that you started learning German when you were fifteen years old, a year after you started learning English?
    If you came to England as a aupair in the 1960s, did you come directly from Lithuania?
    Curiouser and curiouser.........
  12. Cor, blimey, what hope do students have when even English teachers can't spell or use grammar properly?
    There are so many errors in spelling and grammar in some of the messages on this thread - and lots of others in many of the other messages on the English forum.
    And these are the people who are responsible for teaching English!!! Goodness!!! Scary!!!
  13. Well, bully for you!
    I suppose that its difficulty is the reason that the English language used in so few places in the world outside its homeland.
  14. U asked that on Opinion too. And I explained.
    Born in Germany to a Lithuanian refugee near the end of the war who went back home after it to look after her parents. Moved back to Germany a few months before my 15th birthday.
    Want to know why my mother fled to Germany? Because my dad had the choice of concentration camp or German army. He thought his chances of survival would be better in the army, but got killed when my mum was just a few months pregnant with me.
    So perhaps now u can stop obsessing about me as a person and concentrate on what I say about English spelling?
  15. so.... back to the need for whole school literacy in secondary education...

    I'm really hacked off with the rest of the school thinking that issues with spelling and grammar (and I'm off the clock so apologies for errors in this post) are a fault of poor English teaching.
    If everyone got a bit pickier about correcting mistakes both in written and SPOKEN English things would improve quite quickly. It doesn't tak ea lot. A whole school marking policy that is adhered to - literacy targets in subjects other than English and the gumption to say 'pardon' to glottal stops and we're away.

    WHY can't everyone see that??? If we let some kid slide when they said 2 plus 2 is 5 Maths would have a complete benny. Why isn't it as important to correct cruddy spelling or poor punctuation.

    I do think we need an area to discuss policy and share ideas about good practice (s?) in the classroom.

    Mods? are you listening??
  16. manc

    manc New commenter

    Agree about glottal stops - " writing on the compew'uh' " " I got 18 out of twenny", " how do you address a lett'uh" Yuk.
  17. Thanks for all the replies everyone. :) I started the thread because I've just taken on the role of Literacy Co-ordinator in a KS3 school. From September, we will be teaching literacy as a separate subject to all year 7 and 8 students for one lesson per week. I have the interesting task of writing the schemes of work and, whilst I am happy to point out issues that students often seem to have with writing and S&L, I struggle with the reading side of things.
    To be honest - I feel quite in at the deep end with the whole she-bang. I'm an NQT in a new school and, whilst I feel very well supported, I haven't been able to find another Lit Co who is doing the same thing in a secondary school and I'm not entirely sure about how similar a Literacy SOW should be to an English key skills SOW.
    Loopy xxx
  18. Traycie, I completely agree with you! A whole school marking policy for written work would be such a help. I gently correct 'what?', 'could of' and 'I had too go toilet' whenever they come up. But there's only so much I can do with 4 hours per week! We can all see at least some of the literacy problems - the issue I'm having a the moment is making those things into learning outcomes without it just being an extra English lesson.
  19. Hello Loopy, I'm in a similar position and would be grateful for a 'brother in arms'! I use Functional Skills but I think literacy should really get back to basics and attack grammar and spelling mistakes. I am teaching literacy one lesson a week and am trying phonics, word games, basic work sheets etc. However, a rather rude maths teacher has already said (behind my back) that my resources do not seem 'age-related'....ahem! I have taught grown men who can't read! Back to basics is really the only way to go....

  20. <font size="3" face="Calibri">The main literacy problems in Yrs 7 and 8 tend to be spelling ones, but even these vary greatly from pupil to pupil, depending on the strength of their
    visual memory. So having a general literacy policy is tricky. It really has to
    be matched to pupils&rsquo; abilities. </font>
    Some might benefit from revising absolute basics, perhaps with words from
    [/URL] or even
    [/URL] for reading,

    others might like to start sorting out the finer points of apostrophes.
    But I think that whatever u do for literacy, it really will boild down in essence to just more English, but language rather than lit.
    Back in 2000 Blunkett produced a list of 600 across subjects which he wanted to be taught to all 11-yr-olds.
    I can paste those in, if anyone is interested.


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