What role does learning high frequency words play in phonics?

(104 Posts)
Kaida Wed 21-Nov-12 13:14:51

I thought in phonics there were no flashcards, lists of words to learn by sight etc. But lots of kids going through the care of the several foster carers in my family (several different schools) have these still. Have I got confused somewhere? (entirely probable, my firstborn is too young for reading yet)

mrz Mon 26-Nov-12 17:47:49

try it Isabelle ... certainly no significant difference that would distinguish one as long and the other as short I could hold onto the "e" in ever for a very long time as cold you if you wished and cut of the "ee" in even quickly ...it's a confusing description for children who like you can't measure possible minute differences.

IsabelleRinging Mon 26-Nov-12 17:19:33

I don't understand where you are coming from mrz? It takes longer to say ee than it does to say e doesn't it? Doesn't it take longer to say bead than bed ? I think it does, although impossible to measure really as don't have anything that accurate to measure such small differences.

mrz Mon 26-Nov-12 16:16:48

A linguist (which masha claims to be) wouldn't use the term ...time them ...unless you say eeeeeeeeeeeeeeven and ever there isn't a long or short sound.

learnandsay Mon 26-Nov-12 14:26:25

I don't think the girls were intending to be fair to masha.

IsabelleRinging Mon 26-Nov-12 13:57:42

I think the terms long and short vowels are relaltively commonly used to be fair to Masha.

Mashabell Mon 26-Nov-12 06:24:25

In ever and even the es have different sounds and of different length too, just as es in end and m*e*.

I am certainly not the only linguist who refers to the sounds of the vowels a, e, i, o and u in
'hat, net, bit, hot, nut' as short and those in
*a*pron, m*e*, k*i*nd, only, men*u*' as long.

mrz Sun 25-Nov-12 18:25:17

How long is a short e compared to a long e ?
Ever - even.
Different sounds masha both the same length though

maizieD Sun 25-Nov-12 17:28:34

I think you have missed the point, masha. Which is that both 'sounds' are exactly the same 'length' in speech...

Mashabell Sun 25-Nov-12 17:25:43

How long is a short e compared to a long e ?
Ever - even.

mrz Sat 24-Nov-12 18:43:07

You still haven't said how many reception classes you've taught to read masha?

How long is a short e compared to a long e confused

Mashabell Sat 24-Nov-12 18:33:55

Soundswrite (although I have come to think of u as Soundswrong)
you don't seem to understand how a writing system works.
I have learned to read 7 languages and can write 5. So perhaps u underestimate what I know?

That aside, I agree that what's difficult is the sheer amoung to learn, but not how the code works. What takes learning are all the words which don't use the code.

I explained before that 80 of the 90 main English spelling patterns have exceptions, but some have very few. The ones which are chiefly responsible for making English literacy acquisition exceptionally time-consuming are the ones I'll paste in next.
(The first figure in the brackets on the right gives the number of words out of the 7,000 most common ones which use the pattern - the second those which don't.)

e: end – head, any, said, Wednesday, friend, leisure,
leopard, bury (301 – 67)
i: ink – mystery, pretty, sieve, women, busy, build (421 – 53)
u: up – front, some, couple, blood (308 – 68)

a-e: plate – wait, weight, straight, great, table
dahlia, fete (338 – 69)
-are: care – hair, bear, aerial, their, there, questionnaire (31 – 27)
au: sauce – caught, bought, always, tall, crawl (44 – 76)

er: her – turn, bird, learn, word, journey (70 – 124)
ea: eat – eel, even, ceiling, field, police, people,
me, key, ski, debris, quay (152 – 304)

i-e: bite – might, style, mild, kind, eider, height, climb
island indict sign (278 – 76)

o-e: mole – bowl, roll, soul; old – mould
boast, most, goes, mauve (171 – 100)
-o: no – toe, dough, sew, cocoa, pharaoh, oh, depot (106 – 60)
oo: food – rude, shrewd, move, group, fruit, truth, tomb,
blue, do, shoe, through, manoeuvre (95 – 101)

Consonant doubling:
merry (regular) – very(missing) – serrated(surplus) - (381 – 439 – 153)

s-: send, sing – centre, city, scene (138 – 49)
-ce: face, fence – case, sense (153 – 65)
-ce-: ancestor – counsel (62 – 29)
sh:
-tion: ignition – mission, pension, suspicion, fashion (216 – 81)
-tious: ambitious – delicious, luscious;
-cial: facial – spatial (216 –ti- -- 55 –ci- , 22 –ssi, 4 others)

Endings and prefixes:
-ary: ordinary – machinery, inventory, century, carpentry (37 – 55)
-en: fasten – abandon, truncheon, orphan, goblin, certain (73 – 132)
-ence: absence – balance; absent – pleasant ((176 – 58)
-er: father – author, armour, nectar, centre, injure (UK 340/US 346 – 135/129)

In reception, the irregular spellings for short e, i and u are the biggest impediments, followed by the other tricky vowel spellings.

The irregular endings and prefixes become significant much later.

SoundsWrite Sat 24-Nov-12 12:46:21

Masha said: "Words can't, but some spellings in them can be.
I admit that it would have been more accurate to say phonically irregular, (like the o in 'only, once, other, woman, women' or ou in 'couple, group')."
Unfortunately, you generate confusion, Masha. This is because you don't seem to understand how a writing system works. Writing systems are driven by sounds: the sounds are the basis for the writing system; the spellings simply represent the sounds.
The word 'one’ is derived from Old English forms 'en' and 'ane', whose pronunciation, by the fifteenth century, had changed to 'w' 'o' 'n' 'one' but whose spelling was retained. However, these anomalies are relatively few and far between.
Your example of the letter <o> in 'women' is another of your red herrings. In fact, it's a one-off and, notoriously, was used by George Bernard Shaw to try and prove how 'unphonic' the English language is.
Your whole notion of 'irregularity' is also so much dust in people's eyes. There are greater and lesser degrees of complexity: one is that sounds can be spelt in different ways and some sounds are represented by more spellings than others; another is that many spellings represent more than one sound. So, there is a lot to learn but the conceptual understanding require to understand how the system works is not great. A rose, a dandelion, a tulip, a daisy are all flowers. Even quite young children can understand this idea. Similarly, <ay>, <ai>, <a>, <a-e> are all ways of spelling the sound /ae/. Flipping it over, a circle can represent a moon, a ball, a pizza, a face, etc, etc. Similarly, the letter <a> can be /a/ in 'cat', /ae/ in 'baby', /or/ in 'ball', /o/ in 'want'.
Conceptually, these are NOT difficult ideas to grasp. What is difficult is the sheer amount of code knowledge to learn. Which is why it needs to be a taught a bit at a time (incrementally), building on understanding (how it works), developing code knowledge (which spellings represent which sounds in the context of words), and, crucially, the skills required to enable a potential reader and speller to use the knowledge they have and to enable to to achieve automaticity over time.
What makes the above much easier to learn than it sounds is the fact that, as William James pointed out over a century ago, the human brain is very, very good at spotting patterns and the patterns in our writing system are there in abundance.
Taught by people who know what they're doing, almost all children can learn to read and spell to a very high level of proficiency by the end of Key Stage 1 but then you wouldn't know that because you've never taught Key Stage 1 children in school, have you Masha?

Mashabell Sat 24-Nov-12 10:44:27

Soundswrite
How can any word in English (or any language) be 'unphonic'?
Words can't, but some spellings in them can be.
I admit that it would have been more accurate to say phonically irregular, (like the o in 'only, once, other, woman, women' or ou in 'couple, group').

English is the only European language with so many graphemes which are phonically irregular. This makes not just learning spell English but learning to read exceptionally time-consuming too, even with very good teaching. Learning to read with phonically reliable spellings (e.g. keep sleep deep) is much easier and takes much less time.

The 36 words with short oo (could put foot...see list in my last post above) are all tricky to read and to spell, because all the spellings used for it are the main spellings for other sounds: boulder, moulder, smoulder...but, cut, nut .... boot, root, scoot....

Short oo is the only English sound which has no unique spelling of its own.

radical Bristolians also say 'fillum'. smile
maizie I can see that is not such a laughing matter!

maizieD Fri 23-Nov-12 22:10:22

Oh heavens! I loathe it! I have to teach them to spell, don't forgetsad

radicalsubstitution Fri 23-Nov-12 22:00:07

I love the NE 'fillum' for 'film'.

I can see that the Kent/cockney pronunciation of money could sound like 'manny'.

The Liverpool accent switching the vowel sounds of 'murky' and 'hair' makes me smile. (mairky / hur)

radicalsubstitution Fri 23-Nov-12 12:04:11

There is no doubt that our pronunciation of words changes over the years. At some stage in the past, 'breakfast' was presumably pronounced as 'break fast'. Likewise, I think the k in knife wasn't always silent.

Interestingly, my great-great (something or other) gradnparents' surnames changed three times in three generations. Registrar recordds show they went from Bodycoat, to Bodicote, to Bodicoat. They were all obviously illiterate!

As a chemist, I find it interesting that words that come from the same root are pronounced differently. For example:

ethanol, ethanoic acid and ethanoyl chloride have the intial 'e' sound as in 'egg'.

ethane, ethene and ethyl amine have the 'e' sound of 'be'.

Luckily my A level students have such good phonics knowledge that they can move effortlessly between the two smile.

SoundsWrite Fri 23-Nov-12 08:51:37

Masha said, "...I post lists which show how unphonic English spelling often is..."
What absolute drivel this is! How can any word in English (or any language) be 'unphonic'? All words are comprised of sounds and all sounds have been assigned spellings. If that wasn't the case, then we wouldn't be able to write down any new word in the language.
The problem is really that English has a complex alphabetic system. That doesn't mean that it can't be taught by someone who knows how it works.
Hail to Mrz and maizieD and all you other phonics fans! grin

scaevola Fri 23-Nov-12 08:40:46

Te differences with accents are straightforward really, as long as you grasp the difference between phonetics and phonemes.

Phonetics refers to the actual stream of sound you produce when you speak, and this obviously varies with accent (and indeed between utterances from the same speaker). Phonemes refer to the chunks of language which alter the meaning of words, and it is this code that is used in the phonic approach to reading.

A good way to explain this to a child is to use the contrast between "ah" and "ar" to show that "bath" can be said 'barth' or 'bahth', but it's the same thing (a tub) but with a different (phonetic) pronunciation that makes no difference to meaning. A child who watches TV will have come across both pronunciations and internalised this possibility already. To show what is meant by the same ah/ar sound making a contrast in meaning, try the difference between "fat" and "fart". This will improve phonemic awareness and help with a phonic approach to reading. Attempting to just learn the word by sight just leave you stuck with unnecessary complexity.

mrz Fri 23-Nov-12 07:39:13

Or another list [sigh]
"(foot - boot, root...; put - but, cut ..)" masha do you really say foot and boot with the same middle sound?

Mashabell Fri 23-Nov-12 07:36:28

Radical
Chicken? Or egg?

The differences in the pronunciation of short 'u' (bus, cup, front) and short 'oo' (book, foot, put) seem to distinguish speakers from different parts of the UK more than anything else.

Is that because the short 'oo' sound (of standard English) has no spelling of its own? Or does it have no spelling of its own, because of the overlaps/differences between (bus/boos, put/poot) in different accents?

Short oo has no spelling of its own. All the spellings used for it are more common for othersounds (foot - boot, root...; put - but, cut ..).

U hav to see the list, to see what I mean:
Good, hood, stood, wood.
Book, brook, cook, hook, look, rook, shook, took.

Bull, full, pull, bullet, bullion. Wool.
Bush, cushion, push, shush. Whoosh.
Foot. Put.

Could, should, would.
Cuckoo.
Butcher, pudding, pussy, sugar.
Wolf, woman. Courier.

Another fine phonic fiasco.

mrz Fri 23-Nov-12 07:30:49

I confess I wish it every single time I see you give poor or downright incorrect information to parents and teachers masha your misinformation is damaging to children!

Mashabell Fri 23-Nov-12 07:17:34

Maizie
there are times when I wish that mumsnet had a 'stifle' button
I think that as far as I am concerned, u, Mrz and most phonics fanatics wish that not just sometimes, but all the time. Especially when I post lists which show how unphonic English spelling often is and what learning to read and write this language really involves, like the three lists on the previous page.

learnandsay Thu 22-Nov-12 20:58:16

Right, but manny is definitely wrong! I don't care where you come from.

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