Autor: UNOi

Fecha: 8 de octubre de 2015

Teaching English Phonics

by Elaine Gallagher, Ph.D.   TEACHERS: This article summarizes the major points of English phonics. It’s a review for you on how children begin to learn […]

Elaine Gallagher 11 cegby Elaine Gallagher, Ph.D.

 

TEACHERS: This article summarizes the major points of English phonics. It’s a review for you on how children begin to learn to read in English.

 

BEGINNING ENGLISH PHONICS

Grades K – 3rd

 

INTRODUCTION

Phonics in any language is the system of sounds that letters make in order to produce a word.  Some languages, such as Spanish, are 100% phonetic. Each letter, including vowels and consonants, always have the same sound.  Once you learn the letters’ sounds, you can read and spell easily.

Other languages, such as English, do have a phonetic system, but there are many irregularities and exceptions. For that reason, English is often difficult to acquire for non-native speakers.  Beginning the acquisition of English in early childhood is the best way, of course, but at any age a language can be acquired, if taught using CLIL philosophy, interesting activities, and comprehensible input.

This article will look at English phonics, level by level, grades Kindergarten through grade three, helping teachers to present the English phonetic system smoothly, so that our students will be able to reproduce sounds as near-native-like as possible.

There are several steps to be taken based on brain studies and how children acquire a second language. While the order in which sounds should be taught, or which letters should be written is very controversial, all experts agree that LISTENING to the spoken language is MOST important.

Research does NOT support early writing. From the early 1970’s, beginning with Dr. Rudolph Flesch’s “Why Johnny Can’t Read”, to current researchers, such as Emilia Ferriero and Dr. Howard Friedman, a psychologist at the University of California, early writing (before age 6) is not recommended.  Period.

Prof Friedman said: “Most children under age six need lots of time to play, and to develop social skills, and to learn to control their impulses. An over-emphasis on formal classroom instruction – that is, studies instead of buddies, or staying-in writing instead of playing out-side – can have serious, negative effects that show up in 2nd or 3rd grades of primary.”

Sounds should be taught in groups, so that the children can see and hear a pattern. (cat, rat, fat, tat, mat).

While there are various approaches, each of them effective, I recommend teaching the short vowel sounds first. (because they confuse the most, and are the most important in changing the sounds in a word.). Then teach the long vowel sounds. It will seem so easy for the kids after they already learned the short vowels.

There are exceptions: 85% of words are phonetic; 15% are irregular. Therefore, some sight words need to be taught. These are words learned by visual memory, such as by using flashcards. An excellent list of these sight words is the 220 Dolch words. If you want a copy of the list, write, and I’ll send it. (juniorbarney1@yahoo.com)

Have children practice writing the same words they are learning phonetically, when they are 6 or 7 years or older.  It opens up another path to their brains. Don’t force younger children to write, which includes tracing. Oral production and letter recognition will be enough for younger children to develop phonics. Fine motor skills need to wait to be developed until students’ gross motor abilities have been well-developed, usually by age 6 or 7.

This has NOTHING to do with intelligence. Most 4 or 5 year-olds CAN be taught how to write, but shouldn’t be, because the negative effects may not be realized for 2 to 4 more years, with dyslexia, school phobia, “stomach aches”,  and the exhibition of other learning disabilities, which can affect 15% of children pushed at ages 3, 4, or 5 tears old to write. Do you want to risk your child’s future? Read Dr. Freidman’s research results which show kids can learn to write well, painlessly, if we just wait until they are 6 or 7 years of age.

HOW TO BEGIN

In Kindergarten, oral and listening skills need to be developed and emphasized, NOT writing and reading, which should come in first grade of primary, once children’s gross-motor skills are well-developed.

Fine-motor skills, such as writing with a pencil or pen, need to be developed slowly and gradually. Most countries that have high PISA scores, such as Canada, Finland, and many others, begin writing in 1st grade of primary, usually 6 or 7 years of age.

The following ideas are true for all grade levels, from Kindergarten through Grade 3 of primary.

  • Read stories to children every day.
  • Show pictures in the story and express what they are.
  • Students listen. LISTENING is the first step in any good phonics program.
  • Songs and rhymes that students repeat help develop the feel of the English language. Even if the children do not understand the words (“The Hokey Pokey”), they can repeat and enjoy the activity.
  • Use picture flashcards so students will associate the picture with the word.
  • Oral production must precede reading.
  • Build a strong oral vocabulary, beginning with words that can be pictured.
  • Activities in art or games, conducted 100% in English form a base for students to grasp the concept of another language.
  • Phonics support your reading and spelling program.  Short, dynamic lessons, 10 -15 minutes a day will be enough to supplement whatever else you are doing in English.
  • Use plenty of art material, coloring, painting, songs, dances, and games to support your reading program.
  • Phonics should be taught separately from your text because the text often will present material, such as phrases, that are not phonetic, but which need to be    taught by memory. (Example: “What’s your name?”)

Brain studies show that children learn best with words in patterns,     phonetically arranged.  Remember, however, that students also need to         have a base of sight words that they can instantly identify by sight, which may not correspond to any phonics rule.

Excellent readers and spellers have a broad base of both phonics and sight words.

 

KINDERGARTEN (K 2, 3)

The lessons below can be easily adapted to any reading series.  I have kept it general on purpose, so that this phonics article will not need to be updated whenever you change texts. Remember: native English speakers had several years to hear the language before they spoke. Kindergarten is a place where students will listen 100% in English, where they will be encouraged to speak only in English, and where the recognition of sounds and words in English is constructing a base for first grade.

     The main objective in Kindergarten is to build up a large speaking vocabulary, based on the child’s self-confidence, which develops from play, collaboration with other kids, games, stories read-aloud by the teacher or other adults, and a wide variety of activities and field trips so that the students have something to talk about.

MATERIALS

An alphabet chart with large letters so all the children can see them easily.

Flashcards of pictures of the pre-primer words listed on the Dolch List (the first two columns.)

Picture words vocabulary.

 

PHONICS STEPS

Students learn to sing the alphabet song in English.

It may take one month before the children know the song by memory.  At the same time the children sing, the teacher should be pointing to the corresponding letters on an alphabet chart so that they can begin to sense that sounds and names of letters are shown by symbols (letters of the alphabet), even though we do NOT expect children to read them yet.

Read books and poems to the children every day, because they will hear rhymes and rhythms.

Encourage the children to repeat some the words after you as you read, especially the rhyming words or refrains.

Read nursery rhymes to the children. They do not need to know what

the words mean.  They are simply hearing the sounds, and then repeating them.

 

        Sing songs:

Mary Had a Little Lamb,

Ring Around the Rosy,

London Bridge,

The Farmer in the Dell,

Incey Wincey Spider,

Starlight, Star Bright, etc.

Have CD’s with many children’s songs in English. They can be obtained free on Internet.

You notice that in most Kindergarten texts, there is NO reading, only pictures.   Once they progress to having a general listening vocabulary, children listen to stories and point to pictures indicating that they understand the story sequence.

When you have story words that could be easily rhymed, teach the children to say the rhyming word.  If “hat” is a word in your story, have the students repeat words like: “hat, cat, rat, mat, fat”.

New directives from many countries’ SECRETARY OF EDUCATION advise that Kindergarten children, under age 6, should NOT be writing or reading until first grade of primary, so we need to be conscious of that so that we do not push the children.

Many studies indicate that 15% of children who have had their fine motor skills utilized at too young an age, before age 6, later have problems, exhibiting learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, because not enough attention had been given to gross motor control skills development, such as running, jumping, playing ball, walking on a balance beam, skipping, throwing balls, etc.

Topics for vocabulary development at Kindergarten level include words or topics that could be used with any book. These are all ORAL exercises, not written, although the teacher can have some words for students to see so that they learn that what is spoken can be written.

FIRST SEMESTER

Identifying yourself….I am Sara.  I am Miguel.

Counting 1-5, matching what they say with objects….Three books.

Identifying sizes…big, small, long/short.

Feelings: happy, sad, tired.

Shapes….round, square, triangle

Colors

House, furniture

Parts of the body, health

 

   SECOND SEMESTER

Identifying land vehicles: car, bus, train

Sea and sky vehicles: boat, airplane

Opposites: big, bigger, small, smaller

Insects: bugs, spiders

Living things: dinosaurs

Science: camping, night, day, sun. moon, stars, space

 

Remember: Recognition precedes production. Kindergarten should be a time where the students listen, repeat, follow instructions given in English, sing songs, point to objects, do artwork and physical activities, all in English.

You are building the base for first grade while children are in Kindergarten.  So use the time wisely!

 READ a story every day to the children!

 

FIRST GRADE

Vocabulary / spelling development

Students need to know a variety of items that are not all phonetic. Remember, only 85% of English words are phonetic.  The rest have to be memorized by frequent use and practice.

Practice these Dolch words over and over to build up a large speaking vocabulary. In the first grade book, colors, for example, are mentioned in first semester in the first list. Do not drop the colors vocabulary as you move on with new lists.  ALL words should be recycled over and over, until the students have accomplished to keep the words in long-term memory, as exemplified by the spontaneous use of the word in everyday conversation. This proves that the child has absorbed the words and can retrieve them to be used.

The sample unit topics below are typical of what students would need to learn in any text.  Major topics include:

 

FIRST SEMESTER

School and Friends

Who Am I?

My Lunch Box

My Family and I

 

SECOND SEMESTER

My Home

Things I Wear

Toys and Games

My Pets

 

FIRST GRADE

Phonics to be covered:

In first grade, children will learn short vowels a, e, i, o, u (animal, elephant, Indian, octopus, umbrella), consonant blends, and the words practiced.  There are lists and tapes to repeat, repeat, repeat!  The children need to learn how to hear and distinguish from among the various sounds.

You can have fun worksheets with pictures of many of the words for children to color.

You can have students look in magazines and cut out pictures of as many words as they can and paste them on posters.  You can have a poster for each vowel: one each for Aa, Ee, Ii, Oo, Uu with the children drawing or pasting pictures of words with the short vowel sounds.

 

Dolch Words

Make flash cards from your Dolch Words list appropriate for first grade (the 2 pre-primary lists for first semester of First Grade, and the first grade list for second semester.)

Have students learn these words from sight / memory as most of them are not phonetic.

These words can be your reading and spelling words.

 

SECOND GRADE

Dolch Words

Make flash cards from your Dolch Words list appropriate for second grade, using the second grade list.  Make sure you remember to use the color indicated for your flash cards.

Have students learn these words from memory as most of them are not phonetic.

Spread them out over the year. Do not try to cover all of them too quickly or you will frustrate the children. Divide them up by the number of weeks in the year, so you can pace yourself calmly.

These Dolch words can be your reading and spelling words.

 

Vocabulary / spelling development

Students need to know a variety of items that are not all phonetic.  Remember, only 85% of English words are phonetic.  The rest have to be memorized by frequent use and practice.

Practice these words over and over to build up a large speaking vocabulary. Greetings, for example, are mentioned in first semester. Do not drop the greetings vocabulary as you move on with new lists.  ALL words should be recycled over and over, until the students have accomplished to keep the words in long-term memory, as exemplified by the spontaneous use of the word in everyday conversation. This proves that the child has absorbed the words and can retrieve them to be used.

The units are typical of what students would need to learn in any text.  Major topics include:

FIRST SEMESTER

My Class

My Family

My Body

My Clothes

SECOND SEMESTER

My House

Animals

My Birthday

My Toys

Having Fun

 

*You’ll notice that second grade recycles some of the same vocabulary from first grade.  We are building on the child’s experiences, little by little. There is NO rush. The goal is to prepare students who LIKE to read. That doesn’t happen if students are pushed and rushed.

 

Phonics to be covered

In the second grade, children will review short vowel sounds learned in first grade.  They will work with long vowel sounds, saying them, repeating, learning to read words and to spell them.

There are lists and tapes to repeat, repeat, and repeat!  The children need to learn how to hear and distinguish among the sounds.

You can have interesting worksheets with pictures of many of the words for children to color.

You can have students look in magazines and cut out pictures of as many words as they can and paste them on posters.  You can have a poster for each vowel: one each for Aa, Ee, Ii, Oo, Uu with the children drawing or pasting pictures of words with the long vowel sounds.

 

     THIRD GRADE

Dolch Words

Make flash cards from your Dolch Words list appropriate for third grade, using the third grade list.  Make sure you remember to use the color indicated for your flash cards.

Have students learn these words from memory as most of them are not phonetic.

Spread them out over the year. Do not try to cover all of them too quickly or you will frustrate the children. Divide them up by the number of weeks in the year, so you can pace yourself calmly.

These Dolch words can be your reading and spelling words

 

Vocabulary / spelling development

Students need to know a variety of items that are not all phonetic.  Remember, only 85% of English words are phonetic.  The rest have to be memorized by frequent use and practice.

Practice these words over and over to build up a large speaking vocabulary. Playground, for example, is mentioned in first semester in the first list. Do not drop the playground vocabulary as you move on with new lists.  ALL words should be recycled over and over, until the students have accomplished to keep the words in long-term memory, as exemplified by the spontaneous use of the word in everyday conversation. This proves that the child has absorbed the words and can retrieve them to be used.

Once students have a strong speaking vocabulary, they’ll be able to have a large reading and writing vocabulary as well. The units are typical of what students would need to learn in any text.  Major topics include:

 

FIRST SEMESTER

My Class

On the Playground

Our House

My Community.

 

SECOND SEMESTER

Workers

My Day

Food

At the Zoo

Celebrations

 

Phonics to be covered

In the third grade, children will review vowel sounds learned in first and second grades, and they will continue. They will work with long vowel sounds, blends, two and three syllable words, and listen to the tapes and the words, saying them, repeating, learning to read them and to spell them.

There are lists and CD’s to listen-repeat, listen-repeat, and rlisten-epeat!  The children need to learn how to hear and distinguish among the sounds. You can have fun worksheets with pictures of many of the words for children to color.  You can have students look in magazines and cut out pictures of as many words as they can and paste them on posters.  You can have a poster for each vowel: one each for Aa, Ee, Ii, Oo, Uu with the children drawing or pasting pictures of words with vowel sounds they are practicing.

 

BEYOND THIRD GRADE

Dolch Words

During 4th, 5th, 6th grades, the students will master the Dolch words.  Once you are certain that the children KNOW the words, can read them, write them, spell them, define them or use them correctly in sentences, you will not need to practice them anymore, or the children will become bored.

Have a complete set of the Dolch word flashcards available so that you can easily practice 5 minutes a day until they know the words 100%.

NOTE: In place of flashcards, or in addition to flash cards, you can have the words written on an i-Pad or other digital device and project them for students to see.

 

Vocabulary / spelling development

Continue reading aloud to the children as they develop a love of literature when you read to them. Work on the spelling from their reading books.   By 4th, 5th, 6th grades, the spelling lists will be coming from a variety of topics: social studies, science, and reading books, as well as the area of mathematics, and current events.

 

Phonics to be covered

In 4th grade, the children can work with irregular spellings and rules, challenging the students to grow in their English ability. Remember, to pace the work so that the lessons of Step 5 are not too rushed, giving children the chance to absorb the material and learn the lessons well.

Making charts and flashcards for memory games, and practice activities will help to make phonics more interesting.

These phonics lessons should be practiced only 5 minutes a day: short and active!

In 5th and 6th grades, basic English phonics should be familiar to all students.

Your job, as a teacher, is to make certain that the children’s pronunciation is clear, smooth, and fluent.  Have students listen and repeat from the CD or computer, or from you if your accent is near perfect.

If your English accent is not native- like, use the tapes so that your students will be able to acquire excellent spoken English. Once they have excellent spoken English, it will be easier for them to write and express themselves well.

Keep up the great work, teachers, and help your students grow in phonics and their English ability.  If you play games, and use many creative activities frequently. Students will like English, and will reach the level of English we want them to have: understanding, speaking   with fluency, and writing clearly!

Students should be able to truthfully state: “We love to read!  We know sight words and phonics! So reading is easy for us! Thank you, teachers!”

 

LISTEN! TALK! READ! WRITE! SPELL!

Have fun with phonics and second language development!

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