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an International Online Synthetic Phonics Programme
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Student observations worth noting:

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Joined: 08 Oct 2007
Posts: 2585
Location: UK

PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 10:39 am    Post subject: Student observations worth noting: Reply with quote

Hi Debbie

I have just been looking at your site and find it very interesting.

I am a student at .......... University in Western Australia, studying early childhood education and also work as an education support assistant. I am working with some 9 year olds at present helping them with literacy and am finding that I am learning so much myself in the process.

I am just writing to thank you for providing so much information on your site. When an assistant is asked to provide tuition to a student it is really helpful to be able to find information that helps them to understand what it is they are teaching the child.

Teachers, unfortunately donít have the time to impart this knowledge onto us and it has only been since I have started my study that I have become so interested in the actual specifics of the English language.

I also find it interesting that in your program you have identified 48 (+2) sounds.

I have applied to access your student info package in the hope that I will learn so much more. I have looked at a few different phonics/spelling programs (Jolly Phonics, Words their Way, Thrass, Soundwaves etc) through using them at various schools, but I find that the popularity changes from year to year, teacher to teacher, school to school. Surely this canít be beneficial for our students. They are also often not used as in the recommended way. I just wonder how many children are missing out on specific information that is detrimental to their learning.

Anyway enough of my babble, this was just to thank you and explain my reason for wanting to access your program under the student licence.

I asked permission to post this student's message to me on the feedback forum because it raises such important issues and I am grateful for permission to use this post.

Firstly, it is always gratifying to hear from people who find the information and resources provided freely on the PI website helpful. I do receive criticism occasionally that the website is overwhelming and I can understand this comment. For people who invest the time to look through the range of resources and information, however, there is plenty to help them on their way regarding teaching, or supporting students, with basic literacy skills. In other words, part of the reason for the site being somewhat overwhelming to some people is because there is so much there to view and to read and to use!

This student's observations about busy teachers - and about failure to use programmes advisedly according to the authors' guidance is a common observation. I myself give a very clear message during training events that I will not be held responsible for results if teachers do not use the synthetic phonics teaching principles and if they do not use the core resource of the Sounds Book Activity Sheets alternating with 'another' resource as appropriate (at word, sentence or text level to learn the alphabetic code knowledge and skills and then to apply these to sentences and text).

Regarding me having more 'sounds' than the recognised 44, this is not quite right. There are around 44 phonemes identifiable in our English language (phonemes are the smallest identifiable sounds in speech which affect the meaning of a word) - but sometimes we need to teach a unit of sound which actually consists of two phonemes combined. Examples of this include:

The letter x which is code for two sounds (/k+s/ as in 'fox').

The letter u which is code for two sounds in words such as 'unicorn' - that is /y+oo/.

So, the alphabetic code chart for Phonics International includes a number of 'units of sound' which amount to two phonemes taught as if they are a discrete unit of sound :

/ks/ /gz/ /yoo/ /kw/ /ngk/ /chu/ /ul/

Some of these have to be taught and some of these I have included for sheer practical reasons like 'qu' as code for /kw/, '-le' '-el' '-il' and '-al' as code for /ul/; '-ture' as code for /chu/ and '-nk' as code for /ngk/.

A phonics programme is not an exact science, but a means of supporting teachers in practical ways to teach the English written code for reading and spelling.
Very Happy
Debbie Hepplewhite
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