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Sensible approach to literacy teaching

Discussion in 'Primary' started by mashabell, Dec 23, 2011.

  1. but I suspect that the inconsistencies of English spelling will always prevent it being pushed down to less than 15%.
    I am not convinced you are right about that. If the Chinese can deal with the tens of thousands of diverse highly individual characters which have no phonetic, only a visual structure, I fail to see why UK children should be able to do the same particularly when the grapheme/correspndences do have some logical, if somewhat perverse basis.
    You are right to suggest that in my approach, it is simply the easily deliverable daily reading sessions that do the trick.. I assume that an L4 English reflects better spelling skills as well as better reading skills than the L3 standard and the only thing the children have had is additional reading experience. In the school which acheived a 40% increase in the number of L5s English in particular suggests that spelling improvements accompanied the more obviouis reading improvements - the aim was and is, improvements in all literacy skills.
    In summary, i suggest that good spellers are good spellers because they can visualise words more readily and that this ability stems for massive reading experience I know that in some forms of dyslexia this is not the case, but it is true for the vast majoirty of poor spellers.
  2. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I believe good teaching can allow most children to achieve highly.
    I'm afraid that isn't necessarily the case. Many good readers are in fact poor spellers.


  3. I know that some good readers are poor spellers but i do not accept that that is the general rule.
    Where I depart from
    SP fundamentalists is in how
    we both perceive the reading process. SP fundamentalists (unless they have changed their tune lately) believe
    that sight vocabulary plays no role in the reading process ie that serial
    decoding is principal mechanism of reading.
    I completely reject the idea that a
    reader serially decodes as s/he
    reads. Some of the things that SP
    enthusiasts produced as ‘proof’ of this are hilarious. I believe
    that during the reading process, the reader does nothing other than reading (retrieving
    meaning) and that when a completely unknown
    word is encountered and decoding is required – during that process, reading
    ceases. </font>
    <font size="3" face="Times New Roman">

  4. surely that is exactly what we are doing with year on year high reading standards
    No. I am not taling about individual schools - I am talking about ther national picture which proves the opposite to be the reality. One fifth of our children leaving school unable to read or write confidently every year is not what I would call 'high reading standards.'
  5. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I'm not saying it is a rule simply pointing out that good readers aren't always good spellers nothing more
  6. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    So look at the schools that consistently achieve highly and see what they do.
  7. I have no real idea how many characters the average Chinese manages. I have repeatedly been told - no more than around 2000. The characters apparently also give clues to meaning, so it's not like learning to read English.
    A fluent reader of English would need to be able to sightread around 7000 words.
    Most people manage that, although it takes some a very long time to achieve that.
    How many of those who currently can't can be enabled to do so as well, with a lot more pushing as with your programme, I really don't know. Evidence from the last century, across all English-speaking countries, suggests not many more, at least not while they have to try to learn to write as well, which in English is even harder than learning to read.
    I know this is totally irrelevant to your solution, but I can't help thinking that it would be far more sensible to reduce the time-consuming learning difficulties which English spelling poses. I get so cross about the effect which they sometimes have on even my very bright, well-supported grandchildren. I hate the demoralisation they inflict on so many others. They did my mathematically gifted son no favours at all.
    I will be very interested to find out what u have to report in July.
    Good luck.
  8. I will be very interested to find out what u have to report in July.
    As will I - that is now in the hands of the teachers using it but i will not be blaming the teachers if it does not work for them.
    Most Chinese can instantly recognise 5000 characters (words) My son lives and works in hong kong and my daughter in law is a teache there. Some Chinese academics can recognise tens of thousands.
    Anyone with a sight vocab of 7000 words would be a very good reader - certainly Level 5 A 7000 word sight vocab enables its possesser to instantly read tens of thousands of words. My literacy suite uses individual .wav files for most words and my wife has actually recorded about 12,000 to date. The course used a text to speech generator for all other words but slowly but surely I am building up a complete library of recorded words.
    Of course English would be easier to learn if it was completely phonetic but we have to live with it as it is. Every language is a living thing and constantly absorbs words from other languages. Our academics made the mistake of pretending that was more intellectual (posher) to retain a foreign words original orthography. It is interesting that many foreigners (not native speakers) learn English beautifully and can can spell beautifully without the benefit of SP
    I am not against SP - i just dont think it is any more or less successful than any of its many predecessors and of course I do not believe that the reading process involves serially decoding every word as we are reading no matter how often we have read it before.
  9. but I can't help thinking that it would be far more sensible to reduce the time-consuming learning difficulties which English spelling poses.
    This is certainly true. For a while I campaigned to have changes made to spellings but when I realised that it is never going to happen, I gave up and focused in stead on a means of ensuring thatg chiuldren acquired the largest possible sight vocabulary and as early as possible in their schooling.
    My own infant schooling in Scotland involved recognising words right from the start. I remember the book to this day. It started with Kitty has a ball. It is a red ball. The text was always enclosed in a red-lined box which I now asssume was to focus attention on the words. When i wrote the books for my own Year 2 intervention project, i used the same words although I did not enclose the text in boxes - instead I created a computer programme to make the word in focus stand out from the page to serve the same purpose of the text boxes.
    ~I expect the first reports at the end of this month but i am only expecting confirmation that the teeachers have the approach up and running.
  10. Where do you get your 'facts' from, masha? Do you make them up as you go along?
    David Crystal did a word count on The Sun newspaper (a count of distinct lexemes, not all the variations on discrete words). He got up to 9,000 words required to read the newspaper.
    Skilled readers have a reading vocabulary of 30,000 words and more.
    You do not have to laboriously 'learn' every single word. They get into 'sight' memory by decoding and blending, and, despite the scorn which eddie pours on the notion, research evidence indicates that skilled readers do in fact decode words as they read them. As the workings of the brain are not transparent, despite ongoing research, there is no evidence to prove eddie's assertion that we don't decode familiar words. All he knows is that he isn't conscious of doing it...
    Trying googling 'phonology and silent reading'
  11. You do not have to laboriously 'learn' every single word
    Introducing the word 'laboriously' is an attempt to twist the facts - its how I learned and how most of you learned and 'laborouslyt did not come into it - the word 'naturally' would have been more appropriate. The learning is automatic within the reading process and by that I mean within the process of retrieving meaning - not the process of decoding. It is only 'laborious' in a strategy based on grapheme/phoneme exercises - the proof of that is that 100,000 leave school EVERY YEAR unable to read and write confidently.
    Skilled readers have a reading vocabulary of 30,000 words and more.
    And they can read these with a sight vocab of only around 5000 naturally acquired sight words - no wordlists - no nonsense words -no grapheme/phoneme exercises - just reading experience.
    "research evidence indicates that skilled readers do in fact decode words as they read them."
    Just as there is research evidence to support the idea that the earth is flat - evidence is there in abundance - its proof that is absent. There is 'evidence' for jhust about everything!
    I can take a poor Y6 reader who stumbles through an age-appropriate text who you can hear trying desperately to please the listener by decoding graphemes and making no serious attempt to actually 'read' the text (retrieve meaning) I can give that child just over one term reading with no phonics instruction and that child will read normally with no hesitations - no contextual guessing - and all the correct emphasis and tonal variation which can only arise within the retrieval of meaning..
    There are two possisble explanations for this. Either (1) I am lying or (2) the child has come to acquire an extended sight vocab. Unless you can come up with another explantion.
    How about all those poor readers in the 100 schools using my strategy? There are no phonics in my approach but there is lots of reading and lots of writing adn EVERY school which used the approach once continued to use across the entire school!
    . Any Y6 teacher can challenge me on that and what is different about my strategy from an SP one - is that the teacher will not be blamed if it doesnt work!
  12. Nothing so drastic as one grapheme per sound is needed to make it much easier to learn to read and write it. Making it less irregular by ameliorating some of the worst inconsistencies (which I have begun to explain on http://www.improvingenglishspelling.blogspot.com/ ) would already reduce learning difficulties and learning time enormously.
    More and better teaching (consistently in daily doses) has a fairly good chance of improving reading standards among those who currently struggle - quite a bit. There are only around 2000 common words which cannot learned entirely (i.e. placed in the sight word memory) by simply practising decoding and getting faster and faster, such as 'said, head, would'.
    Learning to read is also easier because it is mainly a matter of recognition and contextual clues help with accessing words too.
    For spelling, at least 3700 words contain one or more unpredictable letters (character, quay, believe) and which all have to be memorised word by word. The chances of turning more pupils into competent writers, without modernisation of English spelling, are therefore pretty much zilch.
  13. Nothing so drastic as one grapheme per sound is needed to make it much easier to learn to read and write it. Making it less irregular by ameliorating some of the worst inconsistencies would already reduce learning difficulties and learning time enormously.
    I believe that this is indisputable true but like it or not, this will not change in our lifetimes.
    Learning to read is also easier because it is mainly a matter of recognition
    I agee with this completely.
    The chances of turning more pupils into competent writers, without modernisation of English spelling, are therefore pretty much zilch.
    I disagree with this. I base this on my belief that the national curriculum English 'Levels (reading and writing combined) reflect improvements in spelling viz that generally speaking, a child achieving L5 English is a better speller than a child achieving L4 or L3. I have verifiable cases of such gains which were achieved in two terms without modernisation of English spelling. The number of case of moving children from predicted L3 to L4 was very significant - the number moving to L5 less so. I am hopeful that the outcomes at the end the current academic year will put this beyond doubt.
    I fully agree that the difficulties imposed by our illogical orthography are responsible for our poor iiteracy standards but I also believe that the problems can be substantially overcome without resorting to any orthographical changes - however logical and desirable that may be.
  14. Even in Chinese, characters that directly represent meanings constitute only a tiny fraction of the Chinese character corpus

    That is both cherry-picking and taking Wikipedia quotes out of context,
    A word is a parcel of meaning. The existence of languages such as Chinese
    which have unique characters for every word provides the kind of conclusive
    proof would stand up in any court, that the evocation of the meaning of a word from
    the identification of a single textword or character is possible.

    <font size="3" face="Calibri">In English which is only theoretically phonetic, we also and
    indisputably have unique characters for every word (parcel of meaning) What&rsquo;s so *** about us that we uniquely cannot read
    (retrieve meaning) by identifying words
    as whole, unique entities. The majority of people in the word manage to
    do so. Are we really so ***? Are our
    brains really so different constructed from the brains of people in countries which
    use nonjh-phonetic characters? </font>

  15. Each letter of the alphabet is once character Eddie so words are made up of a number of characters
    Again an attempt to distoriton reality. Letters are no characters - they are symbols designed to represent sounds - not meanings. ~We really must stay within acceptable intellectual bounds.
  16. The Chinese will often combine two characterrs to form a new meaning such as tree tree to mean forest. This is a kind of syllabification but not a phonetic one. I amek no pretense of any expertise in Chinese although my son is a legally qualfied Hong Kong resident because he has lived there for more than seven years and I can speak some Cantonese having spent two years there whihc gives me sosme suspeficial knowledge. To try to make a case that Chinese and other similar languages do not represent meaning by non-phonetic characters is beyond the pale. For many decades the Japenese wiho have more than one way of representing meanings have introduced a phonetic component to their charactters and there is a somewhat similar move in Chine but that fundamentally alters nothing. They like we, read words not graphemes because they have no grapehemes.
  17. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    They are according to the Oxford dictionary

    a printed or written letter or symbol.
  18. I never quote from Wikipedia, eddie. It is not reliable.
    The extract was taken from a whole paper by Professor D L Share called 'Phonological recoding and self teaching: Sine qua non of reading acquisition'. Published in the peer reviewed Journal 'Cognition' in 1995




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  19. Chinese characters are in large measure made up of two or more simpler charactere each with its own meaning. Nevertheless they have combined to make a new character to represent a different meaning/ That changes nothing - Chinese people retrieve meaning from these characters directly with no graphmes-phoneme correspondeces involved- none at all;
    That of course says nothing about about how we read except it makes nonsense of any claim that it is not possible to read from words directly.
    By the way.I'm off to Hong Kong in a few weeks time andvoff to bed in a few minutes time!
  20. This is well established in all alphabetic languages other than English.
    I learned to read Lithuanian, Russian, German, French, Italian and Spanish that way,
    starting with a reliable graphemes-to-sounds chart each time and very little help beyond that from anyone.

    This is not equally possible in English because 69 English graphemes
    have more than one sound
    On Mumsnet a mother brought up the trickiness of ou.
    If English was like other alphabetic languages, ou would have just the sound of
    'shout out loud sound found round bound....'
    and learning to read such words would require nothing but decoding and blending.

    But nobody can learn to read the following with just simple decoding and blending:
    Country, couple, cousin, courage, double, (encourage), enough, rough, tough, hiccough, moustache, southern, touch, trouble, young,
    bought, brought, fought, ought, sought, thought,
    group, mousse, route, routine, soup, souvenir, through, toucan, you, woundx2
    could, should, would,
    cough, trough,
    course, court, four, fourth, pour, tour, tournament, tourist, your,
    favourite, tambourine, journey,
    although, though, dough,
    boulder, mould, moult, shoulder, smoulder, soul.
    SP advocates claim that if those words are organised, a few at a time from their different sound groups, children can learn them easily enough. (Although children clearly don't learn them that easily, or mothers would not regularly be asking questions about them. And learning to spell them takes a very long time.)
    But learning to read words with crazy spellings organised into little groups is nothing but learning to read words by sight. In other words, SP uses as much wholeword teaching as much as the mixed methods that its advocates are so contemptuous of.
    And if anyone wants to test why learning to read English takes so much longer than other languages, get a child at the end of Yr R to read the above, time them and count their misreadings.
    Then do the same (as a phonics test) with the same words spelt:
    Cuntry, cuple, cuzzen, currage, duble, encurrage, enuf, ruf, tuf, hickup,
    mustash, suthern, tuch, truble, yung,
    baut, braut, faut, aut, saut, thaut, groop, moos, root, rooteen, soop, sooveneer, throo, toocan, u, woond, wound,
    cof, trof,
    corse, cort, for, forth, por, tor, tornament, torist, yor,
    favorit, tambureen, jurny,
    altho, tho,
    bolder, mold, molt, sholder, smolder, sole.

    Could, should, would, dough.
    I am sure u can guess why I did not change the last 4.
    1) Short oo has no spelling of its own (put wood could - cut food mould).
    2) A sensible spelling of 'dough' would be 'do', but this happens to be the stupid spelling of 'doo'.

    I got a bit carried away, but the abuse of 'ou' makes me especially cross, because it's so obviously needless.

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