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vowel digraphs in phase 3 what do you do?

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by minilady, Jan 29, 2012.

  1. hi
    tomorrow we start introducing the vowels /ai/ /ee/ etc how do you explain or tell the children about these sounds obviously have both graphemes on one flashcard but is it best to use letter names or avoid them. have seen various methods used and want to use the best practice
    also do you use ie or igh (letters and sounds has igh whist Jolly Phonics has ie) which is most useful for children at Phase 3
    thanks for your help/advice [​IMG]
  2. cariad2

    cariad2 New commenter

    When I first introduce digraphs, I explain that when we talk we make more than 40 different sounds with our mouths, but we only have 26 letters in our alphabet. We don't have enough letter shapes to use one letter for each sound, so sometimes we put 2 letters together and use that as a way of writing one of the sounds that doesn't have its own letter.
    Every time I introduce a new digraph, I explain that it's a digraph and ask the children if they remember what a digraph is - they tell me "2 letters making 1 sound".
    I tend to stick with letter sounds rather than names, but don't think there's really a "right" or "wrong" method when introducing digraphs. I use "ie" as we use Jolly Phonics, and have resources with the "ie" digraph. Again, I don't think it matters whether you use "ie" or "igh" as long as the children have learned at least 1 way of representing each phoneme.
  3. thanks for your prompt reply good to know i'm on the right track - i explain digraph as two letters making one sound
    your explanation of more sounds than letters is great and i'll use tomorrow
    when do you use letter names? do you learn an alphabet song as suggested for Phase 3?
    also why is 'her' classed as a Tricky Word in L+S when its decodeable once the /er/ is taught?
    thanks again I'll carry on planning [​IMG]

  4. cariad2

    cariad2 New commenter

    I'll have to admit that I don't use Letters and Sounds (although we do use rigorous and very systematic synthetic phonics), so I sometimes forget what is supposed to be covered in the different phases.
    I use letter names in the summer term, and teach through the alphabet song. I only teach them to try and get that sodding point on the profile, and sometimes forget to teach it early enough for children to remember them when I do a final assessment!
    No idea why "her" is classed as a tricky word. To be honest, all words are tricky words until you have learned that part of the alphabetic code. No word is a tricky word once you have learned that part of the code.
    We use the term "key words" in class (which is handy when you use Communicate in Print to make your visual timetable, as you get a nice little picture). I've no idea which ones are officially tricky words and which aren't. Every time I introduce a word, I either say to the children that it's a nice easy one to sound out (eg "mum"), or that there's one bit that's trying to trick us, and we look at that bit carefully (eg we recently learned "to", and talked about the "o" not making its short sound or its long sound, but making an "oo" all by itself without another "o" to help).
  5. Probably because the /er /ir /ur sound is tricky for spelling.
    Many people find it hard to differentiate between reading and spelling problems.
    <Er>, <ir> and <ur> (her third turn) pose no reading diffculties, but their spellings are completely random.
    (See <font color="#0000ff">http://englishspellingproblems.blogspot.com/2010/11/english-spelling-rules.html</font> if interested to know why).
    <-igh> has a completely regular pronunciation, but occurs in only 22 words.
    <-ie> occurs in 98 words, but has several pronunciations:
    tie, wheelie, friend, field, diet, sieve, soldier ....
  6. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I agree Debbie ... I hate those bliddy phases!!! they get in the way of common sense
  7. I am not cockney. I would pronounce 'her' as 'h-ur'. 'Her' is only decodable if you've been taught the 'er' grapheme as making the 'ur' sound. Letters and sounds teaches 'ur' as the grapheme for this phoneme so if you're following L&S, 'her' is not decodable for reading and a child using their phonic knowledge (at Phase 3) would spell it 'hur'. If, however, you're using Jolly Phonics, which uses the 'er' grapheme for the 'ur' / 'ir' sound, you won't have a problem with decoding 'her' at this stage. The 'er' grapheme can have different pronunciations (phonemes) depending on which word it is in. When the 'er' grapheme is pronounced as a shorter, unstressed vowel sound, it is known as a 'schwa'. You can hear it in words like corner, letter, hammer, ladder. (You WOULDN'T pronounce this grapheme as an 'ur' sound in these words- Eg. You don't say hamm-ur). In these cases, the 'er' grapheme makes a sound close to 'u' or 'a'. It is a phoneme of it's own and is taught in Letters and Sounds at Phase 3 as a separate sound. When children reach Phase 5, 'er' is taught as an alternative way to write the 'ur' sound. (Like in 'her', 'herb', 'fern' etc). In short, what I'm saying is that the 'er' grapheme makes a different sound in 'her' to the sound it makes in 'corner'! It's all in the Letters and Sounds guidance.
  8. It's not so much a matter of which word, but whether stressed or not.
    English is unsual in generally having just one stressed vowel in each word (English, unusual, generally) The unstressed ones in longer words (called schwa by linguists) can never be heard clearly.
    The ones with several spellings (farmer, actor) cause spelling difficulties.
  9. Sorry to go on, but in my regional accent the sound at the end of corner is /ur/. I don't care what letters and sounds says, I just use my ears. :)
  10. Surely this defeats the object of SYSTEMATIC phonics! The whole point is that GPCs are taught in a structured, systematic order and that children aren't confused by dotting and darting around different schemes and approaches.
  11. Thumbie:
    That'll make it much easier in your area then! If your children don't pronounce 'er' as a schwa you'll not have to worry about teaching it at Phase 3. I think it's a bit of a 'wooly' non-specific sound and is really difficult to teach! :)
  12. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    The bliddy phases get in the way of teaching children to read and write
    Children want to write I paid for the cake at the shop today or I am going swimming on Sunday and My granny is coming to stay and a host of other words long before Y1/2 when they reach phases 5 and 6 do you tell them they can't because it defeats the object of a systematic phonics programme
  13. No! You encourage them to 'sound-out' the words using the GPCs they know. The whole point of having one grapheme with which to record each phoneme by the end of Phase 3 means that children can, in effect, write anything that they want to, using their existing phonic knowledge. This gives them independence and confidence to 'have a go' and make phonetically plausible attempts at spelling words that they would otherwise have to ask an adult to spell out for them. It really gets them off the ground with independent writing.
  14. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I'll say it again ...those bliddy stupid phases!

  15. I'm not really sure which bit you think is stupid. The bit about a whole-school approach, following a structured scheme so as not to confuse children, the bit where children gain confidence and independence much earlier than they would otherwise have done or the bit where people use technical terms to describe this??
  16. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    The fact that something simple has been made very complicated and drawn out by splitting it into silly bits!
    Take phase 4 ccvc & cvcc words which children are quite capable of blending from the 2nd week of phase 2 (snip, snap, past, pants ...test pest nest) phase 6 suffixes and prefixes which can easily be taught from phase 2 ...

  17. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    We have a whole school approach (thankfully not Letters & Sounds) where children are taught all 44 phonemes usually completed by November along with all the incidental bits so by the end of reception most are reading and writing with a high degree of independence, confidence and skill, some often reading purple/gold band books.
  18. me again - wish i'd never asked (they say ignorance is bliss!!)
    perhaps all this confusion is why some schools are only paying lip service to phonics and still love to say 'look at the pictures' and say the sounds c/a/r
    to my ears there is little between the final sound in 'her' and 'fur' and i've practised all afternoon with 'mixer' and 'corner'
    little johnny with his glue ear has no chance lol

  19. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    It really isn't as confusing as it seems from this discussion.
    L&S uses "ur" rather than "er" representation
    I teach "er" so her is decodable much earlier and like thumbie I pronounce the er at the end of corner
  20. JEH

    JEH New commenter

    We teach the letter names so that we can talk about how to write digraphs and trigraphs (as suggested in Letters and Sounds). If you just teach the letter names for the phase 2 and 3 di/trigraphs that is enough for them to score LSL Point 4 (they don't need to know every letter name - just "more than not" ie. more than half the alphabet. I make it 18 letters if they learn all letters used in di/trigraphs - including double consonants like /ss/ as well as the /oa/and /igh/ etc.)
    Della - Letters and Sounds states that /er/ is one of the Phase 3 digraphs - see L and S Appedix for checklist of Phase 3 GPCs.

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