Sounding out, whole word and phonics question

(482 Posts)

My dd is doing well with her reading. Y1.
At home we read more extensively than school books so I am aware there is an element of pushing her above her school ability so to speak. But her school books are not particularly challenging ORT Level 7.

When she approaches a long unknown word, she basically panics. Small words if unknown don't cause problems, just long ones.

If phonetic, I ask her to sound out. But she can't. I think she reads in a whole word way, and she tries to make a word that she does know without really looking at the word.
Tethered she wanted to read as teacher.

She has a lazy supply teacher this year so hasn't made much progress in school, plenty at home though.

Is this fear normal progression?

I wondered about the phonics test because if she can't sound out unknown words then this could be a problem.

learnandsay Fri 11-Jan-13 15:02:11

The words don't have to be in a book. Practice with her by writing words on pieces of paper and have her read them out to you. Start with simpler words and let the words get progressively harder. If she can blend and decode simple words it sounds as though she has the technique but just gets overawed at the sight of a long word and the technique goes out of the window. Practice and confidence are what she needs. When she sees that she actually can do it she will begin to trust herself. You need to help her to practice. That's what mums are for.

ClayDavis Fri 11-Jan-13 15:59:47

What would happen if you gave her a CVC nonsense word like 'vip' or 'diff'? Would she have any problems sounding them out?

Some children with very good visual memories can build large 'sight' vocabularies very quickly. With a scheme like ORT this can mean they can 'read' fairly fluently and a reasonably high level for their age.

Could the school have missed the fact that she can't blend because of how well she appears to be reading?

Clay I personally do not rate the supply teacher and feel very little reading is actually taking place. She says they are learning phonics but she knows them all, so I don't think the harder sounds are being tackled.

Yes I think she has good sight vocab that's a good way of describing it.

She doesn't like nonsense words! She tries to make it a proper word.

Confidence and DD will be two words forever together trough school I fear!


cornyclam Fri 11-Jan-13 18:51:24

Is she able to decode nonsense words though?

learnandsay Fri 11-Jan-13 19:11:47

I've got a feeling the answer to the nonsense words is no she can't decode them. It looks as though she replaces them with a word that does make sense.

mumchat Fri 11-Jan-13 19:15:48

I think many children are scared off temporarily by long words aren't they? When we get one my daughter looks at me with a "no way" face. I then use my finger to cover most of the word so only the first sound is visible. Saying "so what is that sound?" She then tells me and I move my finger so just the 1st & 2nd sound visible & she reads the 2nd sound & then silently I move again & so on. By the end of the word she has said all the sounds and suddenly realised that she hears them blend to make the big word.

No idea if that is correct method (or stating the obvious) but it has worked for us.

learnandsay Fri 11-Jan-13 19:16:23

The problem with using sight vocabulary or mainly sight vocabulary is that you have to read an awful lot to get good at it. You have to read, rhyme, spell, get really familiar with the words where they appear, what they look like, how to construct them. It's not a part time activity.

positivelypositivenow Fri 11-Jan-13 19:19:54

Not in UK so different school system but my dd1 is 6 and in what I think is equivalent to Yr.1. Your description of your dd sounds very similar to mine.

My dd also looks at the start of a long word and says a word she thinks will 'fit'. She also panics when she sees a longer word.

I have a box of word cards and I have taken to picking them up at random and asking her to read a few out a couple of times a day. There are no clues on them and no context so when she gets one right we know it is because she can read and it is really helping her confidence.

When she doesn't feel under pressure and I remind her of the rules she can sound out most words. I am sure she has a good sight vocab but by getting her to read the radom words I can see how she is progressing.

this is what we have. My sister found it in a charity shop.

simpson Fri 11-Jan-13 19:23:45

What you could try doing is sounding out the word yourself "hopping" h o pp ing etc but don't actually say the word (point to each letter or group of letters as you do it) and then see if she can say the word...

Do that for a couple of weeks (only on the words she finds tough) and then see if she is ready to progress to trying them herself...

Also lots of "do you want to go to the p ar k" or " can you see the c a t" etc in every day conversation and see if she knows what you are saying to build up her blending confidence....

On the nonsense words DD was told that aliens had landed and wanted to communicate with her and some words would make sense and some would not....

I like the word box but think it may exacerbate her issue as once she knows a word, she knows it.

I will try as Simpson suggests to make her hear the sounds in words. That's a good idea.

I always cover the word into parts but she is then mid panic so doesn't want to try.
If I tell her the word, then she just knows it. So when the next long one comes up, I'm back to square one.

But small words she just reads. So not sure if its panic or inability to blend.

learnandsay Fri 11-Jan-13 20:54:57

Panic will cause an inability to blend. The problem is that if she can't read any made up words at all then it's possible that either she can't blend or she can't do it very well. If she would be willing to play the alien game with you where an alien lands and says

"Welf moki dabba noom caba rool"

and so on, you would be able to see if she can actually pick letter sounds and put them together or not. But if she refuses to play the game or does play it and tries to turn the alien words into real words then you've a fair idea that she can't do it, (which is what you've already suggested.)

Guess what we're playing tomo!!

Tgger Fri 11-Jan-13 21:00:19

My DS would do a similar thing at about that stage in reading. It sounds very familiar. He also has a fantastic memory and I think learnt a lot by sight as well as the basic phonics. Thus it was unusual for him to have words he didn't know and he would panic/ wildly guess as it caused him anxiety and it seemed just wanted to fill the gap with something.
What helped was slowing him down on new words and segmenting them- doing that for him to start with and then getting him to do it himself. Then sounding out each segment and putting together. And model the blending yourself if you need to. DS could blend fine but would prefer not to bother (!). I took the pressure off him by doing it myself to start with and then gradually getting him to do it. Also, sometimes I would just tell him a word just to keep the pace going with the reading/if he was tired etc. It's fine to do that I think as long as they do have the skills, or are building them so that they can do it themselves.

Good ideas so far re splitting the word up into manageable chunks and reading it out phoneme by phoneme.

I might suggest looking through and discussing together what happens in the book first, you look for any words that might stump her and feed them into the conversation,ie to use your example (hard word conceptually though) 'ooh look that horse is tethered to the stable door there' so you are giving her the words before she has to read the without her knowing.

She might then ask you what it means and you can chat about it so when she gets to it she has kind of been pre taught it.

Haberdashery Fri 11-Jan-13 21:19:12

DD was also similar when she was at the stage between knowing all her phonic sounds and being able to confidently put them together. I am pretty sure it's normal - she's a good reader now and will have a go at most words though she still very occasionally gets into a flat spin and goes a bit bonkers when she forgets to take it slowly. I did what Simpson did and didn't let her get to the stage of panicking so I waited for her to get it wrong and then said 'let's do it together, slowly' and sounded it out with big gaps and let her put the sounds together. After a few weeks of this, she started to do it herself quite naturally.

Haberdashery Fri 11-Jan-13 21:21:29

Also, you have to bite your tongue, but don't say no or that's wrong or anything, just say 'let's try it again together' with you doing the actual sounding out and let her put it together. That way, she is doing the actual reading part and getting it right (hopefully) so she will start to feel a bit more confident.

Tethered was an unusual word from an older book but was a great example and was fresh in my mind. There was a pic to go with it

I am keen to get through this phase as she is doing so well and is almost able to read a book to herself in her head but then we have these panics!

Tgger Fri 11-Jan-13 22:05:57

"Tethered" is a hard word. Not really because of the sounds but as it's not in the vocabularly of an average 5 or 6 year old. DS reads fluently now but I'm not sure he'd get "tethered".

Stay calm when she panics and take her through it in steps, no judgement. Won't be long before she has the confidence to do it herself.

maizieD Fri 11-Jan-13 23:23:58

I wouldn't be too keen to let her read silently to herself if she isn't securely sounding out and blending words. You wouldn't know what bad habits she's perpetuating. Sight word memorisation is easy for some children at this stage and is easier to 'do' than is sounding out and blending. But once her capacity for memorising whole words is exhausted she'll finding sounding out and blending really slow and, possibly, difficult and could well regress or just get turned off reading.

Good advice given about breaking longer words into chunks and getting her to sound out chunk at a time. I always get pupils to sound out and blend each chunk, this puts less of a load on memory when it comes to blending the whole word (i.e child only has 2 or 3 chunks to remember and blend instead of 6 or 7 'sounds'.)

I wouldn't ever 'tell' her a word if she is so good at memorising them as wholes. Always get her to sound out and blend unfamiliar words. If there are a lot of long and difficult words in her reading material then you, or the school, are possibly overfacing her; this could well explain the panic over reading multisyllable words.

learnandsay Fri 11-Jan-13 23:38:16

Refusing to tell her a word if she's good at remembering whole words implies that remembering whole words is a bad thing to do. It isn't. But not being able to recognise and construct words if you're a whole word reader is bad. If you're going to be a whole word reader you have to practice the technique a lot. It would be better to decide if she's a whole word reader or not and then to commit wholly to phonics or whole word than to constantly shilly-shally between the two.

mrz Sat 12-Jan-13 07:39:35

I would only tell a child a word if it was beyond their current knowledge, rather than let them guess.
I don't know if your daughter has been taught <th> <er> yet but I would normally get a child to blend as far as they can so perhaps "t" "e" tell them "th" "er" and they can finish off "e" "d" it means they get the incidental teaching of two new sounds (which they may remember when they meet other words containing <th> <er>) which is more useful than being told something that really only enables them to read that particular word.

maizieD Sat 12-Jan-13 09:58:24

Refusing to tell her a word if she's good at remembering whole words implies that remembering whole words is a bad thing to do. It isn't

In this particular context it is a bad thing. It is essential that the child learns to use sounding out and blending as an automatic strategy for working out new words. This is, initially, a far more labourious process than just being 'told' the word and memorising it. There is a limit to how many words can be memorised as 'wholes' and once the child reaches that limit they will find the unfamiliar sounding and blending strategy a pain to do. This could turn them right off reading.

Please believe that I know what I am talking about, lands. I have a fair amount of experience of working with switched off readers. You have taught one child to read and it is too early yet to tell whether your method is successful or not. Children can appear to be doing brilliantly on memorisation for a couple of years and then they run out of memory and it all goes pearshaped.

Insisting on sounding out and blending all words right from the start makes the process automatic and easy and eliminates the possibility of regression once memorisation fails.

It is also essential to get rid of the notion that reading is about 'learning words' and that it doesn't matter how they are learned. Sounding out and blending a word a number of times (anything from once to hundreds, depends on the child) fixes the word in long term memory and it can then be read 'on sight'; nothing wrong with that. But while the child is sounding out and blending they are also honing that essentiaL skill. The process kills two birds with one stone!

You will notice that I even differ from Mrz on this point though I think it is probably a lot 'safer' for her to 'tell' the odd word because at her school they rigorously teach sounding out and blending to automaticity.

learnandsay Sat 12-Jan-13 10:09:19

I don't for a moment think that you don't know what you're talking about. But I'm against this notion that we just keep banging away at the child until we break her down into doing it our way because our way is best. If the child learns fantastically by learning whole words then great. The crossover point between whole word construction and phonics blending is spelling. Whole word children must learn to spell words and construct them sat, cat, mat
They don't learn to sound the words out but they do learn how to recognise them and how to spell them. They learn to become very familiar with words in general. Of course you can also explain to a child that words can be sounded out too. There's nothing harmful in telling a whole word child that. But what you don't do is keep hammering away at her that what she's doing is wrong and what you are doing is right. That's not teaching that's cruelty. Thousands of children have learned to read beautifully using whole word recognition. I was one of them.

CecilyP Sat 12-Jan-13 11:50:11

but I would normally get a child to blend as far as they can so perhaps "t" "e" tell them "th" "er" and they can finish off "e" "d"

But there is no second 'e' sound in 'tethered' - which might be part of the problem if a child isn't even familiar with the spoken word. There is more than one possible pronunciation of many multisyllabic words and often the sounds are distorted. If OP's child can confidently blend short words but baulks at long ones, I would find some words that have simple pronunciation and don't distort for her to practise on and get her confidence up - words like 'picnic' and 'fantastic' - I am sure there are many more but can't think at the moment.

Tgger Sat 12-Jan-13 12:28:51

Well, it's all a matter of balance. I can see a teacher perhaps has a different perspective to a parent. Teachers will generally follow good practice that has been shown to work for most children whereas parents can tailor make it to their child (although perhaps good teachers can and should do this too to an extent?). Maizie I think learnandsay is right here. Whilst it's not a good practice generally to tell children words, as you may miss teaching blending, or taking the emphasis off it if you do this all the time, there's nothing inherently wrong with it. In some contexts it is the most intelligent thing to do. Like most things, it's the way you use it.

Tgger Sat 12-Jan-13 12:36:41

Although have just read the thread in a bit more detail and I don't think it's helpful to "decide if she's a whole word reader or a phonics reader". DS learnt using both. He was only taught using phonics (well, unless you count the words I told him!) but am sure he used word recognition a lot due to his fantastic memory. I wanted him to learn with phonics as that's how it's taught in school and is best for spelling so that's how we approached difficult words, with the exception of those I told him (!)

maizieD Sat 12-Jan-13 13:19:32

But what you don't do is keep hammering away at her that what she's doing is wrong and what you are doing is right

No, of course you don't because you don't actually offer them the opportunity to do the 'wrong' thing. You just take it for granted that sounding out and blending is the way to go.

^ Thousands of children have learned to read beautifully using whole word recognition. I was one of them.^

And thousands of children haven't learned to read beautifully using whole word recognition. The trouble is, you won't know which will and which won't until the child has started to fail.

. But I'm against this notion that we just keep banging away at the child until we break her down into doing it our way because our way is best.


learnandsay Sat 12-Jan-13 13:33:44

The child is starting to fail at the moment if she can't read long words. The question is what to do about it. Not giving her the opportunity to do the wrong this is simple; only give her short words to read.

Clearly this is not what we want. We want her to be able to read long words comfortably. First we need to know whether or not she can blend. At the moment we don't know this. We need to find out. If she can't blend then we have two choices, either we can teach her to blend or we can teach her how to read long words using sight reading. Teaching children how to use sight reading isn't inherently wrong.

maizieD Sat 12-Jan-13 13:42:31

Maizie I think learnandsay is right here. Whilst it's not a good practice generally to tell children words, as you may miss teaching blending, or taking the emphasis off it if you do this all the time, there's nothing inherently wrong with it. In some contexts it is the most intelligent thing to do. Like most things, it's the way you use it.

Jeez, you lot are so frustrating!

Look at the situation. The child has problems with decoding. The child finds memorisation easy. But memorisation will only work for 2 - 3,000 words out of the at least 60,000 words in a decent adult reading vocabulary. She has to learn to automatically use sounding out and blending. With some children 'telling' the odd word won't hurt, but this child already seems to have a problem. 'Telling' only reinforces the behaviour that you don't want.

Unless the child suddenly cottons on to the fact that letters represent sounds and that she can use this knowledge to work out what the further 58,000 words 'say (cotton on she'll have to because it seems that no-one is thinking that it is particularly important that she learns this skill to automaticity early in her reading 'career') she is going to struggle when she is older and supposed to be reading more text containing a wider range of words.

I work with children who have not been rigorously taught to sound out and blend and whose only alternative has been whole word memorisation. By the time they are 11 these children are reading disabled.

It makes more sense to concentrate on the essential sounding out and blending skills now before the child has real problems.

"decide if she's a whole word reader or a phonics reader"

There is no such thing as a 'whole word' or 'phonics' reader. Reading is not a natural process, it is a taught skill. Children will read the way they have been taught, AND, if they've been taught a mixture of methods they will always go for what appears at the time to be the easier option, whole word. If they are lucky, they can survive the idiocy of their teachers by working out the phonics for themselves.

maizieD Sat 12-Jan-13 13:43:52

Teaching children how to use sight reading isn't inherently wrong.

It is angry

simpson Sat 12-Jan-13 13:52:37

But I also don't think the child is starting to fail hmm

I think it could be down to a lack of confidence (or phonic knowledge).

mrz Sat 12-Jan-13 14:06:49

In my local accent we miss out the "er" so it's more like teth- ed CecilyP

learnandsay Sat 12-Jan-13 14:10:29

Of course it isn't inherently wrong. What kind of dogma is that?!

mrz Sat 12-Jan-13 14:20:55

If the OPs child is confident with cvc words I would move onto compound words .
So if she can read bat and man she can read batman and if she can read can and not she can read cannot - car and pet she can read carpet -pop and corn popcorn - rain and bow rainbow then move onto polysyllabic words.

CecilyP Sat 12-Jan-13 14:52:44

In my local accent we miss out the "er" so it's more like teth- ed CecilyP

Yes, I think that is how I would pronounce it too, but the point I was making is that the final 'ed' is just pronounced 'd rather than ed as in, say, 'wanted' - but if a child was encountering the word for the first time they would not necessarily know that, and how you suggested that they sound it out would not have been particularly helpful.

CecilyP Sat 12-Jan-13 14:53:40

However, I do agree with your later suggestion of compound words.

CecilyP Sat 12-Jan-13 15:03:35

Maizie, I doubt that anyone would suggest that children learn 60,000 words as sight words. However, if a child comes to a new word that is way beyond their current phonic knowledge, it makes sense to supply the word and move on to encourage them to work out the words they can. Then, if they have good visual memory, they might remember the word they have been told or they might not. It doesn't really matter, they still have a further 59,999 words to work through to practise their decoding skills on.

To some extent OP's DD may simply be trying to read books that are a bit to hard for her.

learnandsay Sat 12-Jan-13 15:29:56

You don't learn 60,000 words or anything like that number. What you do is learn how to read. It's possible that during my time of learning to read I learned two or three thousand words by sight but it didn't feel like it. The first thing that I did was become very familiar with books such as Dr Seuss, Little Bear, and many many others. I also read lots of Ladybird books as a child. Much of my early skill with reading came from either being familiar with the text, familiar with the words or familiar with the context that the words were set it. Next comes spelling. From spelling the child learns how to construct words. fat cat sat mat are different words. In learning how to spell different words children learn how different words are constructed using letters, not sounds. Not every component requires a sound in order to have its place in the scheme recognised. One of the reasons why whole word became popular is because great strides are made at the beginning of the method. Young children can read whole books quite quickly. But if the children don't learn how to construct words by spelling then they won't be able to progress once the words become harder to recognise or the contexts become more difficult.

nickelbabe Sat 12-Jan-13 15:38:58

i would say te-therd

are there other -ed words that have -ered as the end?


maybe you should do some?
it's past participle, so get some pieces of paper with ed on them and then lots of pieces of paper with the word-ending-in-ers on them, and get her to join them and say them.

maybe it's because she hasn't learned this spelling rule yet?
i think this is more than just not sounding.

i know you said she was doign ti with other words, so maybe find a pattern in each word she doesn't know and build words from phonic blocks.

you can easily make it a fun game.
and then make some fake words with the blocks!

hels71 Sat 12-Jan-13 15:55:19

My DD is also on ORT 7 and gets a bit panicky at longer words often guessing. What I have been doing is (as I think someone else suggested) covering the words and revealing one sound at a time so she can see that she can do it. She is now starting to do this herself. It has taken time but she is getting there. She is good at blending though (Alien words are no problem unless they are long) she just can get overwhelmed by longer words at times.

maizieD Sat 12-Jan-13 16:17:38

Of course it isn't inherently wrong. What kind of dogma is that?!

Not dogma, lands. Fact.

Read Jeanne Chall 'Learning to Read the Great Debate'.

Then read lots of research about reading.

Then start working with children who have been disabled by the way they have been taught to read'; spend a great deal of time thinking about what you know about the psychology of learning, what you know about the reading process, what you know about memory, what you know about the children's errors and what could possibly have caused them. Do this for 10 years and then come back and tell me that there's nothing wrong with whole word teaching..

mrz Sat 12-Jan-13 16:55:46

I would distinguish between telling a young child who is reading a book for pleasure and meets a word beyond their current ability and expecting the child to learn/remember the word by sight. I would also distinguish between a very young child who perhaps hasn't been taught all the phonics code and an older child who has the knowledge but isn't applying it.

learnandsay Sat 12-Jan-13 17:57:49

In this case right and wrong are value judgements. Therefore saying this is right and that is not is dogmatic.

Tgger Sat 12-Jan-13 20:07:21

Maizie, I find your comments equally frustrating. Note no "jeez" or "you lot" there grin. Not sure if there is a "I find that rude" icon...?

Whilst your comments are pertinent to your experience, mine (and others') are pertinent to our own. Neither is necessarily right or wrong. Is it not possible for both scenarios to co-exist (answer yes IMO). So, I appreciate your concern that lots of children fail to learn to blend and this in turn causes them great handicap as they get older and can't read well. Therefore yes, blending should be the way children are taught. That is a given in my book. HOWEVER, there is room for manoeuvre for individual children according to their abilities/stage in reading/if it is a teacher or a parent listening etc etc.

I'm hoping that my DD has a bit of all of your opinions!

She def memorises words. She can blend to an extent. But blending seems to have stopped at short words.

She's ok with compound words as she tends to read ahead to grasp them. But she doesn't naturally break them in half and this is the same as the longer words, she won't break them up.

She doesn't like made up words, there is no point to them for her.
Her phonics teaching is woefully behind her reading ability.

She can spell pretty well, I can see gaping holes in her phonics teaching by this. She doesn't know alternative sounds for oo. ue etc. but she can absolutely read these words.

I think it's all pretty normal, her progression but for her ability there seem to be too many holes. Her book this week is actually gold level - the long journey ORT and follows Max makes breakfast, so she has actually jumped up again.

Perhaps it is just cnfidence.

Tgger Sat 12-Jan-13 20:30:03

Hmmmm, all sounds quite normal, apart from the bit "her phonics teaching is woefully behind her reading ability". Do you mean she hasn't been taught all the diagraphs/alternative spellings yet? That sets alarm bells ringing IMO! You need to be taught them to read them grin. And Y1 should have covered them all for those that are able I think!!

I taught DS them myself last year as he was really beginning to fly with his reading but being held back by not having been taught a lot of the sounds (this was YR).

maizieD Sat 12-Jan-13 20:43:04

Lands, let's try ,correct' and 'incorrect' then.


I did try, in my first post, to explain why i was suggesting the particular course of action I suggested. If neither you, nor lands can get past your indignation about not 'telling' children what a word is, I'm sorry. I find it very frustrating not to be understood.

I don't happen to agree with the view that teaching reading is a matter of opinion; it's not a particularly difficult or mystique filled process but it is easy to mess a child up if it isn't done correctly.

They still use a word book. It's pointless to me, she can just read whatever they put in. Currently doing numbers.

Phonics I'm not totally sure. She isn't very verbal about school. But teacher is very unapproachable, bats every question away, TA is in charge of reading books. Head practically out door retirement so no one particularly cares.

I think she won't do very well in the phonics test but this is not her ability and totally about lack of teaching. She doesn't have breaking down skills which I would assume comes hand in hand with good phonics teaching.

I'm not bothered by the test btw. It's more about the (lack) of tools in her arsenal to continue to be a good reader.

learnandsay Sat 12-Jan-13 21:21:48

You do not need to be taught digraphs and alternative spellings in order to read them you need to be taught them in order to identify them. You do not need to identify them in order to read words, any more than you need to know what a diphthong, a monophthongs or a glide is.

Tgger Sat 12-Jan-13 21:35:44

"This is, initially, a far more labourious process than just being 'told' the word and memorising it. "(re blending)

Which is why I would sometimes tell DS a word. As it is indeed laborious so there is only so much a child will want to do. If they are enjoying the book it's good not to put them off and it might be appropriate just to tell them the odd word depending on their stage of reading/the book etc. I agree with mrz on this re it depends on the context of the reading.

"Insisting on sounding out and blending all words right from the start makes the process automatic and easy and eliminates the possibility of regression once memorisation fails."

Insisting is good sometimes, not other times. Most parents would agree with that I think. I think we are more in agreement than disagreement Maizie, it's just your approach I dislike.

Tgger Sat 12-Jan-13 21:37:39

learnandsay, it's helpful to be taught the code is it not? It's much easier to be taught/shown it than to work it out yourself.

Tgger Sat 12-Jan-13 21:49:56

OP, if you have those concerns re the phonics teaching could you do it yourself?

Re-reading your original post it looks like you need to get your DD more confident at blending and trying to blend. Presumably she can do it a bit to have got to where she is. Maybe it's the transition from reading easy words which are automatic for her now to coping with the harder ones, which she needs to blend, that she is finding tricky.

I think DS had a similar stage and maybe those children with the good memories shy away from the blending as they haven't had to use it much up to that point- for DS he liked to know the word straight away, often did, so it took a while to acquire the "blending habit" for harder words. Having the phonics in place to use for these words is crucial though or you are onto a non starter.

learnandsay Sat 12-Jan-13 21:55:37

Yes, it's better to be taught the code than to have to work it out for yourself if you can use it. But there is a thread not far from this one where a mother is asking for a non phonetic reading scheme because she tried for years with both of her sons and phonics and they couldn't learn to read. But one has made great strides teaching himself whole words and the mother suspects that her second son might need to learn whole words too. The implication of many phonics enthusiasts is that phonics should be the only method allowed and to hell with anybody or anything which needs anything else. Well, there are people who do need other things and they need to be allowed to have access to other methods as required. Penicillin is fantastic. But have you noticed that it's not the only medicine? What would happen if doctors started forcing patients to take penicillin when it wasn't appropriate simply because it has miraculous properties in so many circumstances?

Tgger I think that's it exactly. She blended 18m ago with cat sat bin etc.
she gradually has stopped using the skill, it hasn't been reinforced at school and her phonic knowledge is behind what it should be.

I have got some useful phonic stiff from on here so will dig out and practise.

I am also going to be a bit more insistent on talking alien. (Remembers DD face when I asked her in French if she could speak French as she picked up a book in library in French - total disdain ) grin she is still only 5!

Tgger Sat 12-Jan-13 22:08:07

Yes, but I'd vote phonics first with every child before anything else. Even us whole word readers were taught to sound out. To me phonics just seems a more methodical type of old fashioned sounding out, with more consistent rules in place that aid spelling as well as reading, all be it with exceptions.

And children will use other methods too, whole words, context etc. But if I mention those I tend to get flamed (dives under cover).

Tgger Sat 12-Jan-13 22:14:51

Great OP, sounds like a plan smile.

That sounds bad if they are not practising at school though. They should be going over the sounds every day I think. Is it worth talking to the teacher a bit more about your concerns- make an appointment so she has time to talk to you? Sounds like that relationship (home-school) is not the best though sad.

maizieD Sat 12-Jan-13 23:10:52

. I think we are more in agreement than disagreement Maizie, it's just your approach I dislike.

What approach do you dislike? I think my first post is perfectly reasonable in suggesting what seems to be the problem and the best way to deal with it.

Frustration at the 'mother knows best', 'it's all a matter of opinion' approach came somewhat later.

CecilyP Sun 13-Jan-13 09:43:39

OP, I wouldn't worry too much about the phonics test - the words are either one syllable, or simple 2 syllable words - certainly nothing as complex as 'tethered'. You can look up the sort of words that are in the test on-line.

Your DD has only done a term in Y1, so there are probably a lot more phonics sounds still to be covered. I also think it is perfectly normal to be phased by long words, however good and comprehesive the phonics teaching is. Also, if she is doing ORT, it will not be tailored to the phonics that she has been taught so far. In the meantime, I would encourage her to work out the words she can, but supply the words that she is likely to really struggle with. If she tries and gets a word wrong, it also gives you the opportunity to bring in some incidental phonics teaching.

mrz Sun 13-Jan-13 10:02:34

Can I ask why you feel you need to be more insistent on "talking alien" Shattereddreams? (what is talking alien btw?)

learnandsay Sun 13-Jan-13 10:26:59

I think talking alien was introduced fairly early on in the thread and came from the idea that in the phonics test made up words are marked with an alien. The OP's daughter keeps trying to make real words out of made up ones and playing the alien game we've surmised in this thread will stop her from thinking that they're human words.

mrz Sun 13-Jan-13 10:27:03

Can I also point people to an old blog by Dorothy Bishop

You can’t read for meaning if you can’t decode the words. It’s possible to learn some words by rote, even if you don’t know how letters and sounds go together, but in order to have a strategy for decoding novel words, you need the phonics skills. Sure, English is an irritatingly irregular language, so phonics doesn’t always give you the right answer, but without phonics, you have no strategy for approaching an unfamiliar word.

mrz Sun 13-Jan-13 10:28:10
learnandsay Sun 13-Jan-13 10:28:44

So how come people who never learned phonics can read?

mrz Sun 13-Jan-13 10:34:42

*even if you don’t know how letters and sounds go together*

some people are able to work out how our spoken language relates to our written language independently and with relative ease (it obviously takes longer that discrete teaching ) but many others don't work it out and struggle with only a limited sight word vocabulary to help them tackle texts.

learnandsay Sun 13-Jan-13 10:40:15

Whole word children are taught how letters and words go together not letters and sounds.

mrz Sun 13-Jan-13 10:48:16

Whole word children are taught how letters and words go together that is precisely what whole word teaching does not do learnandsay.

learnandsay Sun 13-Jan-13 11:07:56

It has to do that. Whole word children can spell.

CecilyP Sun 13-Jan-13 11:15:54

Whole word children are taught how letters and words go together not letters and sounds.

I am not sure what you mean by 'whole word children', but you can't have it both ways, either children learn words as wholes, with no reference to the individuals letters and their relevant sounds, or they actually do learn letters and how they relate to the spelling and pronunciation of the words.

learnandsay Sun 13-Jan-13 11:32:23

Well, I'm afraid I have to have it both ways, Cecily. Because whole word children can spell. I suppose the one concession to your complaint is that they aren't taught the letter sounds. But they most certainly are taught how to spell.

CecilyP Sun 13-Jan-13 11:44:55

I am still not sure how you define 'whole word children'. How can you be taught to spell without reference to letter sounds?

mrz Sun 13-Jan-13 12:06:49

The whole-word approach is a method to teach reading by introducing words to children as whole units without analysis of their subword parts. (Beck and Juel 2002)

Many, many children who learnt by whole words can not spell and were never taught to spell under the assumption that if they could read a word by sight they would remember what it looked like for spelling.

Tgger Sun 13-Jan-13 12:10:58

I'm not sure I understand the concept "whole word children". My mother taught her children the old look and say way but for her it included sounding out. My 4 year old is just learning her sounds and sounding out some cvc words. My Mum was quick to tell her "always sound it out."

mrz Sun 13-Jan-13 12:16:55

Tgger Look and Say doesn't include sounding out ...your mother has used mixed methods which was the recommended method before the Rose Report.

CecilyP Sun 13-Jan-13 12:17:08

Yes, I know the whole word approach to teaching reading - not sure if there is an equivalent approach to 'teaching' spelling. It was more a definition of 'whole word children' especially those who can spell or, even more confusingly, were 'taught to spell' that I was looking for.

mrz Sun 13-Jan-13 12:18:30

as the name suggests with Look and Say the child was taught to Look at the word and Say it (flashcard, word lists sight learning)

Tgger Sun 13-Jan-13 12:25:08

Ah yes, I guess I just find the whole idea of trying to teach reading without any sounds very odd indeed! Not to say that there won't be some children who can learn this way, just not many will find that the best has been shown with the research smile
Yes, mixed methods were the norm for a lot of us. I remember my mother recommending flashcards for DS when he was starting off, but we never went down this route as it seemed inappropriate.

mrz Sun 13-Jan-13 12:25:26

The definition was for learnandsay, CecilyP.
Look Say Cover Write Check is the spelling equivalent to Look and Say reading whole word teaching.

alanyoung Thu 17-Jan-13 03:24:24

Wouldn't it be wonderful if English was spelt phonetically (as near as possible allowing for accents)? It is about as far from phonetic as we are from Jupiter, so why the Government insists all children should learn this way is beyond me.

Children have been learning to read using many different methods for donkeys' years and have been just as successful. Learnandsay is quite right - use the method that works for your child and don't worry about whether the books are pc or not. My own children learnt on Peter and Jane and are now highly educated and in very good careers.

Phonetics - here are some examples:

The 'oo' sound is spelt differently in all these words:


The letters 'ough' have nine different pronunciations. I am not sure how many I can remember at the moment, but here goes:

hiccough (old fashioned spelling of hiccup)

'One' begins with a 'o' when we all know it should begin with a 'w'.

'of' instead of 'ov', 'off' instead of 'of'

Silent letters: know, write, etc

What's phonetic about that?

mrz Thu 17-Jan-13 07:03:21

Wouldn't it be wonderful if English was spelt phonetically wouldn't it be wonderful if people understood that English is spelt phonetically even if it is more complex than some other languages where sounds have a single representation.

*Silent letters*: of course all letters are silent it's speakers who make sounds.

^ know, write, etc^

What's phonetic about that? everything ...wr is a way to spell the sound "r" and kn is a way to spell the sound "n" quite simple if you know as much as an average six year old

Mashabell Thu 17-Jan-13 07:36:41

Wouldn't it be wonderful if English was spelt phonetically (as near as possible allowing for accents)?
It would indeed. Children would learn to read and write in a fraction of the time they need for it now, as they do in many countries.

It is because 69 English graphemes have more than one sound (on - only, once; out - couple, group ...I could paste them all in, but don't want to make Mrz scream again) that even learning to read fluently takes several years, rather than just a few months in the rest of Europe.

To become a really proficient speller takes around 15 years, because at least 3,700 common English words have some unpredictable letters in them (from men - m*a*ny to zip - xylophone).

Learning to read is easier, because u can teach children, as Mrz says,
wr is a way to spell the sound "r" and kn is a way to spell the sound "n" , (or that they are daft alternative ways of spelling the r and n sounds).

But for spelling, children have to learn word by word which ones don't spell r and n in the usual/most common English way:
knee, know, knock, knit ... gnat, gnash
wrap, wreck, wrinkle....rhubarb

That's why phonics is of very limited use for learning to spell English, and not even quite sufficient for learning to read either.
Masha Bell

vikinglights Thu 17-Jan-13 08:24:33

learning to read fluently takes several years, rather than just a few months in the rest of Europe
I'm just not convinced thats true. DD1 goes to norwegian school, in norway, dealing with a phonetically regular language and I can say categorically that reading fluently does not take 'just a few months' for the majority of children.

OK it helps that they are on average 20 months older than school starters in england so they are more mature and have longer concentration spans and they can usually start decoding fairly quickly, but fluent reading relies on rapid decoding, and the ability to scan the whole word to identify phonic elements. eg in norwegian the i sound in t_i_ss differs from the i sound in r_i_s because it is followed by a double rather than a single consonant. I'm not sure that functionally it is so much more difficult to deal with alternative spellings of different sounds in english. There is more code to learn in english but the fluency seems to be a matter of being able to identify phonic elements and blend them at a functional speed, and I suspect the end product of that may be 'whole word reading'. Of course with the code in place and blending skills new words can be dealt with, which has got to be a good thing.

DD1's reading in norwegian is better than her reading in english, but she gets a lot more practice and reinforcement. Mind you her english isn't far behind, I suspect because the skills of scanning words, remembering the segments (and their order) and blending are transferable skills, so they only difference is the 'code'

learnandsay Thu 17-Jan-13 09:56:20

You don't need a be a six year old to read knee, know, knack, photo, pharoah and whelp. But if you're an adult you might ask why do we spell like that? Whereas a six year old probably just takes it on trust that that is the way that we spell.

nickelbabe Thu 17-Jan-13 10:57:01


"The letters 'ough' have nine different pronunciations. I am not sure how many I can remember at the moment, but here goes:

hiccough (old fashioned spelling of hiccup)"

it's eight not nine - lough is the same as rough.

nickelbabe Thu 17-Jan-13 10:59:25

and the reason this happens is because English is a language that has evolved from all different languages and sources (including regional variations)

it's what makes English such a varied and versatile language.
and that's also why people shouldn't spend so long complaining about why this is spelled/spelt differently from that, but rather should embrace the language and its history.

nickelbabe Thu 17-Jan-13 11:01:16

"The 'oo' sound is spelt differently in all these words:


through and you the oo sound is the same.
it's the same in truce and truant

alanyoung Thu 17-Jan-13 11:04:38

mrz, if the average six year old knows what you are implying they know, why do we have such a problem with reading and spelling in this country? Surely, if it's that simple every child would be reading fluently by the age of seven or eight!

alanyoung Thu 17-Jan-13 11:10:58

nickelbabe, I believe this lough as in the Irish lake is pronounced 'loch' as per the Scottish.

Even if I'm wrong about that, it's still eight - seven too many!

learnandsay Thu 17-Jan-13 11:14:28

Alan, reading and spelling are different. Lots of people can read pretty well but spell really badly. Phonics enthusiasts say we have a reading problem in this country because reading has been poorly taught for the last few decades. But then lots of subjects have been poorly taught for the last few decades!

alanyoung Thu 17-Jan-13 11:17:17

and the reason this happens is because English is a language that has evolved from all different languages and sources

nickelbabe, this is an argument that one hears very often and it is true, of course. But there is, I believe, a flaw with it.

Only a very small percentage of academics really understand what all that is about and the rest just want to be able to read books, newspapers, contracts etc. Many people cannot appreciate the point because they have trouble reading. It's rather like having an appreciation of Latin or Ancient Greek - very interesting if you are interested, but most people aren't.

alanyoung Thu 17-Jan-13 11:18:38

learnandsay, I agree, but just because they are different doesn't mean they aren't related.

nickelbabe Thu 17-Jan-13 11:19:56

ah, i seeee, lough - that's not classed as English, though, as it's Irish (is it Gaelic?)

nickelbabe Thu 17-Jan-13 11:21:06

does it really matter how many people "understand what it's all about" ?

I don't want a spelling reform.
I think the English language is amazing in its diversity and I think it should stay that way.

alanyoung Thu 17-Jan-13 11:21:44

Although the history of spelling is interesting, very few teachers take the trouble to explain why it is like that (many don't know themselves, I believe). For instance, I can remember learning the rule 'i before e except after c' (with too many notable exceptions, I might add). I must have been seven or eight at the time and I remember thinking that one day someone would tell me why 'c' is an exception. Fifty seven years later I am still waiting!

alanyoung Thu 17-Jan-13 11:22:50

nickelbabe, perhaps, but there are still eight!

alanyoung Thu 17-Jan-13 11:26:09

nickelbabe, I think the English language is amazing in its diversity too, but the point is that this diversity is the problem that is holding up our children's reading and spelling.

Which is more important, an academic interest or the reading ability of the more than 600 000 children that pass out of our schools every year (and that's just the UK)?

learnandsay Thu 17-Jan-13 11:54:30

Well, the phonics enthusiasts think they've cracked it with phonics. According to them, if their methods are used properly nation-wide then most children, nearly all, will be able to read well. Recently we've seen in this forum one or two children who have failed with phonics. But the enthusiasts insist that that is about their failure rate, one or two children per year, not thousands. (And who knows, maybe they're right.) The only problem is you can't do anything perfectly country wide, not even obey the law, the best you can do is try. The real failure rate will always be higher than its theoretical equivalent because the delivery method relies on people and they fail all the time.

nickelbabe Thu 17-Jan-13 12:01:37

yes, there still 8. that's a fascinating thing! grin

the i before e except after c rule is about the sound eee. there are no notable exceptions to that. (maybe the "except after c" part is the exception that proves the rule?)
do you really need to know why?

I don't believe that the complexity of the English language holds children up in their literacy progress. any more than a child in a country where the language is made of symbols and not letters (although letters are symbols really) - in Chinese languages, the symbols make up whole words, and that means that there are thousands of variations, and most of the symbols are made of phonetic blocks, just like our words are.

Mashabell Thu 17-Jan-13 12:13:40

I don't think anyone has ever suggested meddling with the English language.
Spelling words like 'said, head, friend' more sensibly would not change them as words in any way. It would merely make it easier to learn to read and write them.

I agree with Viking that reading fluency is not merely a matter of decoding:
^the end product of that may be 'whole word reading'.^As fluent readers we recognise all common words by sight, without decoding. That is the final aim of reading instruction. Many children decode for too long and have to be taught to 'just read' the words they recognise already.

The big advantage of more decodable spelling system is that
new words can be dealt with more easily.
This enables children to become fluent readers with much less help from adults (especially parents). They don't keep getting stuck on words like 'said, through, people...'. They can easily work them out by themselves.

Many English-speaking children don't get anywhere without a lot of intensive one-to-one help, which many of them don't enjoy. It's very costly too. Anyone who dismisses the idea of modernising English spelling out of hand, simply because they don't like the thought of change, should perhaps give some thought to THE COSTS of English spelling inconsistencies.

learnandsay Thu 17-Jan-13 12:37:36

The irregularity of English spelling is only one part of the problem. Another part is student participation. Our English language is pretty much spoken, (if not pronounced) in the same way across the country. But have you noticed that some youngsters can hardly speak English properly? Have you noticed that some parents (British born) can hardly speak English properly? That has nothing to do with English spelling (and probably very little to do with what they were taught in school either.) And maths is regular enough. So if regularity was the key to success then we'd all be good at maths.

mrz Thu 17-Jan-13 17:35:14

alan it is that simple and most children could be reading and spelling well the problems seems there are too many people like you who think it's more complicated than it really is just because they don't understand and can't be bothered to learn.

Feenie Thu 17-Jan-13 18:09:06

Surely, if it's that simple every child would be reading fluently by the age of seven or eight!

They are - in lots of schools.

learnandsay Thu 17-Jan-13 18:23:30

Except the ones who are not.

Feenie Thu 17-Jan-13 18:26:18

Indeed - in schools where teachers agree that it isn't that simple. smile

Doobydoo Thu 17-Jan-13 18:27:37

I loathe phonics.DS can read very well...phonics confuses and panics him.

learnandsay Thu 17-Jan-13 18:29:43

dooby, how old is your son?

Doobydoo Thu 17-Jan-13 19:26:04

Hello.He is 6 in April.

Doobydoo Thu 17-Jan-13 19:27:36

I also have a ds who is not recall the phonics thing then.We read to him and he read from young age...find it all rather odd.

Doobydoo Thu 17-Jan-13 19:30:49

I do feel that Maths is poorly taught also.Both my sons were enthusiastic about Maths before school.Ds1 in particular.He had been mainly home edded and started secondary in year 7,He is now year 9 and I feel Maths has been over complicated for both sons...who now feel rather confused at times and have lost initial enthusiasm for it.

Doobydoo Thu 17-Jan-13 19:32:17

Also do not understand why my ds2 is having to do phonics when he can read and spell pretty well...just makes him unhappy tbh...and doubt himself

mrz Thu 17-Jan-13 19:33:44

Also do not understand why my ds2 is having to do phonics when he can read and spell pretty well how well is pretty well?

Doobydoo Thu 17-Jan-13 19:38:18

He brings home spellings on Monday.We ask him to write them down on tues,weds,thurs evening(once).He has test on Friday he gets full marks.

Doobydoo Thu 17-Jan-13 19:41:09

Reading should be should system seems to over complicate and make it a chore...this is our experience.

mrz Thu 17-Jan-13 19:54:43

It's pretty normal for most children to get 10/10 for spelling tests but also normal for the same children not to retain the knowledge the knowledge which is why many schools no longer send home spelling lists.

Doobydoo Thu 17-Jan-13 19:59:09

Am not hugely bothered re spellings.I am bothered about the fact that reading does not become a chore.He can read very well and enjoys it...the books are fairly uninspirational(the ones from school) and phonics has made him doubt himself and become anxious

mrz Thu 17-Jan-13 20:05:00

What books does he get from school?

Doobydoo Thu 17-Jan-13 20:10:48

Biff and Chip

mrz Thu 17-Jan-13 20:12:17

So look and say books hmm not phonics

Doobydoo Thu 17-Jan-13 20:15:58

He has phonics lessons at school!

Doobydoo Thu 17-Jan-13 20:16:34

Off for a bit...bed time

mrz Thu 17-Jan-13 20:21:11

Yes I'm sure he does have phonic lessons at school and I'm sure he will have other lessons in the future that he may find difficult and he may not find fun. Unfortunately in life not everything is fun (especially Biff & Chip).

learnandsay Fri 18-Jan-13 08:53:35

Dooby, what happens when your son comes across a new word like boatswain or galliard?

maizieD Fri 18-Jan-13 09:55:07

Dooby, what happens when your son comes across a new word like boatswain or galliard?

As so frequently happens with reading material for 5y olds.grin or shock?

Doobydoo Fri 18-Jan-13 11:58:08

grin...he sounds it out...i think!...or sometimes just says the word...sorry I am not as clear as I should be.Think it is because we didn't have this phonics frenzy when ds1 was ds2's age and just got on with it.

Maybe part of it is that he worries about not being able to do things straight away.

learnandsay Fri 18-Jan-13 12:43:47

I think part of the problem and the phonics frenzy that you're talking about is what confuses people. As far as I can tell you do need phonics to teach a whole class to read (if you're really trying to teach everyone). And you do need some phonic elements (maybe not the whole mad theory) but you definitely need some sounding out.

But to me the problem is that some children seem to get on better without it and some children aren't ready for it. They may well switch to sounding out when it suits them, (and why not?) I've seen it said in a few places that when many children start to read they prefer whole words. (I guess it depends on the child.) My daughter used to read fine until she came to a new word and then would say I don't know that word. Even if it had been the cat on the mat sat on the mats. Because mats now had an s on it she would refuse to read it. And then one day she just switched to sounding out. I don't know why.

lindsey1403 Fri 18-Jan-13 12:44:51

I was frustrated with my child's progress in Year One. I also found the whole phonics topic quite difficult to understand. There's a great video tutorial at which is really clear and simple for parents to help support their child in phonics. I found it very helpful and use the Jolly Phonics workbooks they offer. It has really boosted my daughter's confidence and she reads happily now.

Doobydoo Fri 18-Jan-13 16:23:09

Thank you for the linksmile and Learnandsay...thank you for your comments...very

mrz Fri 18-Jan-13 16:27:07

No learnandsay you do not need phonics to teach a whole class to read but you do need phonics to be able to read whether you are taught it discretely in school or work it out for yourself. The first option is obviously the most efficient for everyone.

learnandsay Fri 18-Jan-13 16:34:13

Well, yes, except for the occasional children whose parents have popped up here in the last few days explaining that they need advice on getting away from phonics because their children can't read using phonics and need whole words. Nobody wants to be told - you do need phonics to read -- if they don't need it. Maybe most people need it (I don't know.) But some definitely need not to have it.

mrz Fri 18-Jan-13 16:37:13

I'm the mother of a child who can't read using phonics and it is a huge handicap for him ...and many others.

learnandsay Fri 18-Jan-13 16:44:33

I think that's true but if someone can't read using phonics and can read very well using whole words then they need whole words. (If they can be taught or persuaded to become very good at using phonics then great. But then they aren't people who can't use it.) If they're genuinely people who can't (despite all efforts to do so,) then the last thing they need to be told is -- you have to use phonics, you need phonics. because that is the very last thing that they need.

Doobydoo Fri 18-Jan-13 16:58:18

Concur Learnandsay.

mrz Fri 18-Jan-13 17:01:58

Learnandsay my son could read the Financial Times at age three! He was still badly handicapped by lack of phonic knowledge as he progressed through school.
Stupidly I thought, like you, that as an excellent reader it didn't matter.

simpson Fri 18-Jan-13 17:22:25

I personally think that my DD remembers new words as a whole word sometimes...

She read a book with the word "island" in it and could not get the word right...I told her it as a whole word as I have to confess that I don't know the phonics rules for that word blush and the word did not appear for another 4-5 pages and then she got it correct and did not even have to stop to think about it.

She never sounds out (but maybe does in her head, I don't know although she is very fluent and by that I mean the speed that she reads her books)...

maizieD Fri 18-Jan-13 17:26:29

What is most extraordinary is the assumption that because a 5 or 6 y old can memorise words 'they don't need phonics'.

If your child is sounding out words, be thankful. That is 'phonics' and it will become increasingly useful to them as they reach the limit of memory for whole words.

mrz Fri 18-Jan-13 17:29:59

I'm afraid I was guilty of that assumption maizieD (I knew nothing about phonics when my son started school unfortunately)

learnandsay Fri 18-Jan-13 17:52:45

The real rules for island come from Old English (ig) island + land (land) Middle English iland. Mistakenly from Old French isle, scholars added an s to iland thinking, incorrectly, that the French isle, influenced by the Latin word insula was the origin of our word. They forgot about the Anglo Saxon original.

mrz Fri 18-Jan-13 18:34:15

The etymology sometimes helps children understand why a word is written the way it is but it isn't a spelling rule. In the case of island the etymology isn't particularly helpful with the spelling.

Missbopeep Sat 19-Jan-13 20:40:21

learnandsay I don't for a moment think that you don't know what you're talking about. But I'm against this notion that we just keep banging away at the child until we break her down into doing it our way because our way is best.

What a very emotive way of describing a methods of teachng reading.

-banging away
-breakink her down


I think you are mistaken. It has been proven that phonics works for all children. Look and say and whole word recognition works for those children who have good visual memories- but even they will struggle eventually if they cannot decode a word that is new to them.

If a child cannot use phonics then they have probaly not had a good teacher, or enough practise. There are very very few children who cannot leanr through phonics- those who can't may have a problem with auditory discrimination and processing, but enough multi sensory teaching should help hugely.

It's doing a child a diservice in the long run not to persevere with phonics because as I said above there is al imit to how many words the brain can hold purely by relying on sight memory.

Missbopeep Sat 19-Jan-13 20:41:12

excuse typos- on phone.

learnandsay Sat 19-Jan-13 20:59:26

It's been proven that phonics works for all children

ha ha ha ha
ha ha ha


ha ha haha ha

Tgger Sat 19-Jan-13 21:06:04

"If they're genuinely people who can't (despite all efforts to do so"

Although not a primary teacher myself, I would like to suggest that there are very few children who can't be taught to read using phonics if they are taught well.

From posts on this website I think the issue for many children is that they are NOT taught well using phonics, and then when they haven't really got the hang of it parents' frustration causes them to wonder if a different approach would be better- answer probably not 99 times out of 100. Or, to correct myself, yes, a different approach would be better, one that taught using phonics more systematically and consolidated with correct level phonic reading books.

Missbopeep Sat 19-Jan-13 21:46:43

learnandsay *unless the child has say learning difficulties in whcih case they will struggle with any method.

Are you an educational professional?

You would do well to research the mountains of info out there, including the Rose report and the findings of the Reading Reform group.

Missbopeep Sat 19-Jan-13 21:51:38

I think part of the problem and the phonics frenzy that you're talking about is what confuses people. As far as I can tell you do need phonics to teach a whole class to read (if you're really trying to teach everyone). And you do need some phonic elements (maybe not the whole mad theory) but you definitely need some sounding out.


This post of yours clearly shows you do not have much idea about what phonics is.

What are some phonic elements?

Why is it a mad theory?

If you are able to back up your theory - your anti-phonics theories- then I am listening but I'm not convinced so far.

Your post is contradictory at best- you need phonics to teach a whole class- but you definitely need some sounding out?

Phonics is "sounding out".

learnandsay Sat 19-Jan-13 21:53:21

Logic clue for you, missop, any proof involving all children needs to involve all children. I think that's a bit of an impossible project. What most investigators do is choose a sample, extrapolate and theorise. Of course you can feel free to do whatever you like.

maizieD Sat 19-Jan-13 21:54:48

As all my work is with children who are on the SEN register I can fairly confidently say that all but a tiny number of them have absolutely no problem with phonics at all.

maizieD Sat 19-Jan-13 21:57:54

^ What most investigators do is choose a sample, extrapolate and theorise.^

Are you familiar with properly conducted research studies? In any discipline?

Missbopeep Sat 19-Jan-13 21:59:26

Answer the question : are you an educational professional, and have you even heard of the reports I mentioned?

If not then you need to educate yourself before posting any more.

I do do what I like because I have a huge amount of experience in teaching reading-- stretching over decades - and I've seen what works and what doesn't.

learnandsay Sat 19-Jan-13 22:04:12

Logic is logic. Phonics is not proven to work with all children. Your statement is wrong and your questions are irrelevant.

Tgger Sat 19-Jan-13 22:40:32

Nearly all though learnandsay. It is a rare medicine that works 100% of the time for all people.

Is there anything that would make you change your mind learnandsay or must we all bang heads with you for as long as we remain on these threads?

learnandsay Sat 19-Jan-13 22:53:05

I'm easy. We could just agree that the children who need phonics need phonics and the ones who don't don't.

Feenie Sat 19-Jan-13 23:24:07

Or we could just bother to find out how it happens in schools where all children learn to read, and take it from there?

learnandsay Sat 19-Jan-13 23:30:59

It's not about all children. It's about the ones who don't need phonics. They need something else, (and the way the fanatics are going) they need anything else.

Tgger Sat 19-Jan-13 23:36:06

But that is a very tiny number learnandsay. Whilst I am sure they welcome you as their advocate, it is not really relevant to 99%.

simpson Sat 19-Jan-13 23:39:11

But my concern would be that the children who supposedly do learn to read by look and say do ok at first with reading when they are younger but then struggle as they get older mainly with spelling/ writing and then it is too late in some cases...

DD's homework this week was to write out the story of The Enormous Turnip in her own words, very few words were spelt correctly but were phonetically correct iyswim ie "caim" for came and "cood" for could but it shows to me that despite her not sounding words out when she reads at all, her phonics knowledge is good and yes the words are spelt incorrectly but at least she is giving it a go and it can be read and understood which may not happen if she was just remembering the words as a whole as there are only so many words they can remember....

learnandsay Sat 19-Jan-13 23:39:47

That's great. Let the 99% have phonics, if they can benefit from it, and let the other 1% learn as they please.

Absolutely. (Why not?)

mrz Sun 20-Jan-13 07:27:18

and how do you identify that 1% learnandsay. At age 3,4,5,6,7,8,9 I would have said my son was that 1% he could read far above his chronological age, never met a word in any text that he could not read first time without help ... I wish I could turn back the clock and insist his school had taught him phonics with his peers.

learnandsay Sun 20-Jan-13 08:11:29

I'm not identifying the 1%; their mothers are identifying them by posting on mumsnet asking for alternatives to phonics because they've tried their best with phonics for years and haven't got anywhere. It's a terrible doctor which says to a suffering patient, yes, I know penicillin has made your symptoms worse. But even though you struggle I'm going to tie you to this table and force some more down your throat. Because it might be killing you, but it does wonders for everybody else. That's not a doctor that's a criminal.

mrz Sun 20-Jan-13 08:21:57

and I'm a mother who knows that it isn't possible to correctly identify a child who will never need phonics knowledge

mrz Sun 20-Jan-13 08:25:24

or conversely learnandsay "I know this chemotherapy treatment will help in the long term although at first you may feel worse."

learnandsay Sun 20-Jan-13 08:29:12

But how long is the suffering supposed to go on for, years and years? If a child is suffering badly when trying to use phonics but flying with whole words then let them fly. This I'm going to force you to suffer with phonics because I like it isn't education it's fanatical sadism.

yellowsubmarine53 Sun 20-Jan-13 08:29:42

But the parents/carers might not be identifying this hypothetical 1% very accurately.....

Some friends of mine spent over 2 years having meetings, discussions, assessments with their dd1s school about her academic progress, particularly her reading. She was on a IEP and the school eventually suggested that she just wasn't very bright.

Her parents thought through every possible reason for this and concluded that she just didn't get on with phonics. They took their dd for an independent assessment and the assessor realised within a hour that their dd hadn't been taught phonics correctly, and certainly not thoroughly enough for her to read independently and confidently. She was relying on memorising whole words. This had obviously been going on since reception, and it was only in Y2 that the gaps in her knowledge and between her and some of the other children who had picked things up, became obvious.

They've been fortunate enough to be able to move their daughter to another school but are still very angry and upset at the damage that poor phonics teaching and being fobbed off by the school had on their dd intellectually, psychologically and socially (it's not nice to think that you're thick).

yellowsubmarine53 Sun 20-Jan-13 08:31:03

FGS, teaching phonics isn't fanatical sadism. It's not, it's just not.

learnandsay Sun 20-Jan-13 08:32:34

No, teaching phonics isn't fanatical sadism, but forcing children who can't acquire phonics skills to learn phonics because the teacher loves phonics is fanatical sadism.

yellowsubmarine53 Sun 20-Jan-13 08:36:48

lands, you are the only person on this thread talking about 'forcing' children to do anything.

Are children who phonics don't benefit at all? I've never seen any research to substantiate this.

Teachers use phonics because its the most effective ways of teaching children to read (is it a national requirement?) not because they 'love' it.

learnandsay Sun 20-Jan-13 08:40:54

This isn't about research. This is about posters on mumsnet who have asked for alternatives to phonics.

yellowsubmarine53 Sun 20-Jan-13 08:47:12

But the OP on this thread isn't asking for alternative to phonics.

Indeed, she or he is concerned that her or his dd's knowledge of phonics isn't through or automatic enough to help her read long words independently, and that she is unhelpfully relying on whole word recognition.

learnandsay Sun 20-Jan-13 08:49:02

There is a neighbouring thread where the poster is asking for an alternative to phonics. The discussion about the principle of sounding out is taking place here though.

yellowsubmarine53 Sun 20-Jan-13 09:02:10

There isn't really an 'alternative' to phonics.

Phonics is learning about how letters make sounds, either singularly or in different combinations and how these sounds can be blended to make words.

IMVHE, it's usually poor phonics teaching rather than good phonics teaching that leads to children 'not getting on with phonics'.

You seem to find it hard to take on board experience and advice from people much more experienced in teaching children to read than yourself, especially those who have seem the whole process through. (I don't include myself in this - I supported the school in teaching my 5 year old to read and indeed she can very well indeed).

As others say, lots of 4/5/6 year olds can learn whole words, but this strategy has a limited time span of usefulness. Good phonics teaching helps children learn through the whole process. I don't know why you're choosing to back yourself into a corner about this one, but you seem very intent on doing so.

learnandsay Sun 20-Jan-13 09:08:02

I don't care how experienced people are. I'm sure the Jesuits were very good priests but that doesn't excuse the inquisition. Just because you're an experienced teacher that doesn't give you the right to be a fanatical sadist.

mrz Sun 20-Jan-13 09:08:56

Would you dismiss teaching all skills just because at this point in time you don't need that particular skill in the hope there never comes a time where you might find in useful or even essential learnandsay?

mrz Sun 20-Jan-13 09:09:28

in it

learnandsay Sun 20-Jan-13 09:10:34

I'm not dismissing the skill or penicillin. I'm just making the point that it's wrong to force either of them on people who need not to have them.

Missbopeep Sun 20-Jan-13 09:11:36

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yellowsubmarine53 Sun 20-Jan-13 09:15:47

I don't care how experienced people are

Really? Wow, I do. I'm really glad that my children are being taught to read - amongst other things - by someone experienced in doing so.

Missbopeep Sun 20-Jan-13 09:16:14

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learnandsay Sun 20-Jan-13 09:24:03

Well, missbop, it rather looks as though the children in question have invented their own memorisation method. That's not look and say. But it is memorisation. There's context and familiarity too which can be used for reading.

mrz Sun 20-Jan-13 09:27:48

How do you know they will not have need of them at some point in the future learnandsay. I don't have a crystal ball, unfortunately, so can't predict if a child will struggle in later years. I can however, with hindsight say as a parent I wish my son had been taught phonics regardless of his reading age.

Missbopeep Sun 20-Jan-13 09:42:51

Oh I see- you don't have any real ideas about this. You just want to slam phonics, accuse anyone who teaches that way as being a sadist and ignore all the years and years of research.

I will tell you how children learn by not using phonics. They learn through sight memory. Or they break the words down automatically without needing to be taught- they have the ability to do this themselves.

But many many children can't and won't learn that way. My DCs were at school in the 1980s and learned though the mixed approach. They were given Real Books and supposed to learn to read somehow. It was the fashion at the time. It failed many children who were poor readers for years. Usually the children whose parents couldn't help at home or didn't want to. It was an educational disaster. My job at the time was teaching adults who had dropped through the net and were illiterate. They were taught using phonics.

I am not going to carry on posting in reply to you because it is a clear waste of time.

However, I'll finish by asking you one question- if, as an adult, you come across a word you don't recognise, how do you read it- which strategies do you employ in order to read it?

learnandsay Sun 20-Jan-13 09:56:19

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Missbopeep Sun 20-Jan-13 09:57:21

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learnandsay Sun 20-Jan-13 09:58:41

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Millais Sun 20-Jan-13 10:02:26

My ds3 is an amazing reader. He was reading when he was 3 - not taught by me, just picked up- and when he went to school he missed the phonics sessions because "He can read so he can do extra comprehension!" He read Lord of the Rings when he was 7 and could discuss it showing a good understanding. He is achieving fantastic results across the board but when he comes to an unfamiliar word he regularly pronounces it incorrectly because he was not taught to read using phonics.
At the time I had not done much phonics teaching myself and it is only now that I realise the gaps. I have tried to make it up as much as possible but at his age I fear I have missed the boat. My aim now is to get him interested in phonics and him to study it himself.

maizieD Sun 20-Jan-13 12:38:17

Now, do be fair, Missbobeep. Learnandsay has taught her YR daughter to read and has read lots of posts on mumsnet. Don't you think that qualifies her as an 'expert'? wink

Feenie Sun 20-Jan-13 12:40:45

It probably does actually, since that's at least one more than Masha wink

maizieD Sun 20-Jan-13 12:46:08

LOL Feenie grin

teacherwith2kids Sun 20-Jan-13 13:02:34

I will not add much to this already-lengthy debate. However, from personal experience, I would say:
- Not all children who APPEAR to learn through whole word recognition actually do so. My DS appeared to learn to read in this way, but luckily he was then given good synthetic phonics teaching in Year R and it turned out that in fact he had simply worked out the phonic code for himself (so starting out from a word and unpicking it, then using the 'bits' to read other words).
- Until phonics is really well-taught in all schools (by teachers who have been trained to do it well and doi not do 'a little bit of what we used to do' as well), and supported by proper phonic reading materials at all levels (rather than ORT appearing a few weeks in), then it seems very likely indeed that it is poor teaching / insufficient good-quality practice that is really the issue.

I mean, if children fail to add up well, we don't say 'ah well, we should get children to memorise the ansswers to all the possible addition calculations instead', we realise that there must be gaps in their basic knowledge and understanding, or poor teaching, or insufficient practice, and go back through it again, rather than saying 'teaching addition doesn't work'.

Missbopeep Sun 20-Jan-13 13:13:53

Oh I see MaizieD- I had missed that fact.

You are right. Yes, an expert.

CecilyP Sun 20-Jan-13 13:15:17

My DCs were at school in the 1980s and learned though the mixed approach. They were given Real Books and supposed to learn to read somehow. It was the fashion at the time. It failed many children who were poor readers for years.

Were your children poor readers because of this, Bopeep? Is this why you feel so strongly about it?

Feenie Sun 20-Jan-13 13:18:14

I imagine, like most teachers, that she feels strongly because many children were failed.

When you know, as a teacher, that there IS a method which works and, because it isn't taught properly/or at all then children are STILL being failed, it's very frustrating.

CecilyP Sun 20-Jan-13 13:22:09

At the time I had not done much phonics teaching myself and it is only now that I realise the gaps. I have tried to make it up as much as possible but at his age I fear I have missed the boat. My aim now is to get him interested in phonics and him to study it himself.

I don't think it is ever too late, but does he really need to study phonics? Does he mis-read words completely randomly, or does it approximate to the word but get it slightly wrong. If it is the latter, just encourage him to look more carefully and have another go.

CecilyP Sun 20-Jan-13 13:23:40

Many thanks for replying on bopeeps behalf, Feenie. But I was more interested in her response, rather than your speculation regarding her motivation.

Feenie Sun 20-Jan-13 13:24:18

Well, that's me told!

mrz Sun 20-Jan-13 13:33:39

Did you miss where she said she wasn't continuing to post on this thread and learnandsay told her to dip her head in a bucket CecilyP ? so you may not get a reply from her.

CecilyP Sun 20-Jan-13 13:36:18

I thought she was just refusing to reply to learnandsay. Though you are probably right that she is away now.

mrz Sun 20-Jan-13 13:55:08

I could have written both of the posts you quoted CecilyP
and lack of phonics knowledge hasn't been a major handicap to my son's reading but certainly a barrier to spelling/writing and I'm afraid for him when the gap was recognised as he had switched off.

CecilyP Sun 20-Jan-13 14:10:28

If your DS was reading the FT at 2, I doubt there was a very wide window of opportunity to teach phonics before he could read, but how was writing/spelling taught at his school and how did he miss out there?

mrz Sun 20-Jan-13 14:13:40

with the assumption that if he could read the word he would be able to spell it.

Missbopeep Sun 20-Jan-13 14:22:24

I am back to answer those questions but not to engage with learnandsay.

No my children were not poor readers. But what they didn't get at school they got at home through my professional training. Not all children are able to have that.

I have spent a lot of my career remediating - both children and adults-
poor reading ( and spelling) ability.

I become very frustrated with people who base their opinions on what has worked for 1 child without knowing much about the subject at all.

And I would agree with another poster that children who appear not to have learned through synthetic phonics have in fact cracked the code themselves. Not all children can do this which is why synthetic phonics- taught properly - works.

And in a class-situation, the teacher has to go with what works for most of the children, most of the time. Children who have managed to decode without formal instruction ( ie synthetic phonics) are fortunate and if they are bored etc than that is a case for differntiation- not throwing the baby ( phonics) out with the bath water.

CecilyP Sun 20-Jan-13 14:23:09

But if he couldn't, I don't understand why was it not obvious to them that he couldn't.

mrz Sun 20-Jan-13 14:41:39

Of course it was obvious but their attitude was
I was worrying about nothing as he was such a good reader he'd get there given time

He was such a good reader that he obviously wasn't trying with spelling and he was a typical lazy boy

That keeping him in every playtime would force him to write which he obviously could do if he wanted as he was such a good reader

do you notice a theme?

Finally in secondary school they decided that perhaps he really did have a problem and suggested he should just word process his work because obviously that would fill in the gaps in his knowledge (or do I mean hide his difficulties)

CecilyP Sun 20-Jan-13 14:50:42

Yes, I get the theme now, mrz, though I am surprised they still thought it was just laziness right up till year 6.

Did the word processing help? If his poor writing was because of his lack of phonic knowledge, I am not sure how that was supposed to work.

mrz Sun 20-Jan-13 15:28:12

No the word processing didn't help but at least he had a spell check that sometimes supplied the correct word if he was close enough with his attempt to what he wanted to write and he could produce a side of A4 that was partially readable.

It's his spelling that is the main problem he doesn't know what the write to begin writing the word.

He did see 6 different EPs over the years who eventually suggested phonics around Y9/10.

CecilyP Sun 20-Jan-13 15:33:17

Thanks for the full reply, mrz. Is his problem lack of any sort of phonic knowledge or inability to do anything with it if he had it? How was he with a game of I-spy when he was wee?

mrz Sun 20-Jan-13 15:46:00

He could play I spy with letter names but not with sounds.

Feenie Sun 20-Jan-13 15:55:53

Ah, I see my 'speculation' was accurate. Thanks, Missbopeep. wink

CecilyP Sun 20-Jan-13 15:57:53

Yes, but you couldn't tell me if bopeep was talking about her own children.

Feenie Sun 20-Jan-13 15:59:56

And I said I understood where her frustration 'probably' came from. I don't think that was unhelpful on a thread like this.

learnandsay Mon 21-Jan-13 22:32:49

Interesting. There's a thread going on on TES Primary (called Reading in Y6) at the moment about a teacher teaching Y6 who has some pupils who are still learning to decode.

Presumably something is going very badly wrong if pupils are still learning basic decoding skills in Y6. (She does say that it is the first time that it has happened to her.)

teacherwith2kids Mon 21-Jan-13 22:44:35


I had a pupil who will still be learning to decode at the end of their compulsory education, such is the nature and degree of their SEN. At Year 4 age, they had reached the point of being able to decode their name, and CVC words, but no digraphs as yet.

Nothing 'went badly wrong', but the child in question had specific learning needs and despite daily lessons and 1 to 1 support, the process of acquiring the ability to read is always going to be a slow one for some children.

learnandsay Mon 21-Jan-13 22:54:19

From the way that she's phrased her problem she hasn't made it apparent that the stragglers have SEN. She just points out that they are not very good at reading. And from the way that she has written her post it looks as though she needs to teach them all together as a group (which she is finding difficult.) If the stragglers have SEN it might make more sense to teach them separately. But if they don't I can see why she might want to teach the whole group together.

teacherwith2kids Mon 21-Jan-13 23:01:13

Bad phonics teaching lower down the school may well be at least part of the answer if there is no specific severe SEN [the group thing does not rule that outl, of course, I had 'a group' of statemented children in one class] - as I have said above it may well not be phonics as a method for learning to read that has failed, but phonics BEING TAUGHT BADLY that has failed.

Missbopeep Mon 21-Jan-13 23:02:35

It is highly likely that a child in year 6 has missed the systemtic, synthetic phonics which is now recommended as a method of teaching, unless the school was enthusiastic and incorporating it 6 or more years ago- and many were not and still are not.

teacherwith2kids Mon 21-Jan-13 23:05:34

That too, Missbopeep. I certainly wouldn't take a small number of Year 6s, who possibly didn't have systematic phonics teaching as their primary method of learning to read, as evidence that 'phonics is going badly wrong', more that the 'mixed methods' which preceded phonics and in many cases are still in use is going badly wrong...which we knew...

learnandsay Mon 21-Jan-13 23:11:28

Something having gone badly wrong applies to anything having gone badly wrong. Regardless of what went wrong these children still can't read very well in Y6. Secondary school seems set to be a challenge for them phonics or no phonics.

mrz Tue 22-Jan-13 06:50:00

Have you missed all of maizieD's posts? She teaches secondary age pupils who cannot read and write! Thousands of children have been failed by mixed methods. If you've taught to read by looking at pictures what exactly do you do when there aren't any!

mrz Tue 22-Jan-13 06:51:05

you've been taught

learnandsay Tue 22-Jan-13 07:42:38

But mixed methods may not be to blame. Perhaps the children just aren't very good at reading.

Missbopeep Tue 22-Jan-13 08:38:53

<sighs deeply>> at learnandsay.

Why are you so keen to condemn synthetic phonics? After many years of millions of children being failed by trendy methods which didn't work terribly well, SP is now the recommended method in schools. Your condemnation of them is pointless- so why do you persist?

Is this based on your own experience as the parent of a child who has been at school for one term?

With resepct- and I am trying not to patronise- that does not give you much experience in the teaching of reading and writing.

For the record, I have spent half my career as a secondary English teacher, when i admit I knew nothing about phonics or reading though I was pretty hot on Shakespeare smile and the other half as a literacy specialist working across all age groups. For the latter I had to have further training. I have seen how mixed methods failed children.

There will always be the bottom 20% of children/population who are slow to learn. They have either general or specific learning difficulties. So it is nigh impossible to get 100% children up to level 4 KS2 for instance.

But what has been shown- is that SP works for more children more of the time than any other mixed methods. It works for children who are less able, have difficulties ( it's the method dyslexia teachers have always used) and the research has been done to show this.

learnandsay Tue 22-Jan-13 08:48:36

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bruffin Tue 22-Jan-13 08:56:32

Learnandsay, if you knew what my more tha averagely intelligent dh went through at school went through at school because of lookandsay then you would realise what absolute crap you are talking.
Lookandsay left a good percentage of children functionally illiterate. Ie they can get by on a day to day basis, but dont have the skills to take. A very high proportion of the prison population are functionally illiterate because of methods like lands.
My dh probably does have a learning difficulty,as does my ds.
My dh was finally taught phonics when he was 10 and learnt to read but the damage was done.
My ds was taught synthetic phonics from nursery and learned to read well, but still has memory recall problems.
My dd absorbed reading and would have learnt using any method. By your dds age she was ahead of your dd,without any hothousing.
There are very few who cant eead through phonics and there is plenty of evidence that phonics improves reading ages by months and years in a matter of weeks

learnandsay Tue 22-Jan-13 09:03:00

What crap am I talking? All I said was these children can't read very well. That appears to be a fact.

Missbopeep Tue 22-Jan-13 09:11:44

You are right learnandsay. It's not about me at all.

It's about research, training and experience which other people more expert than me have passed on and I have learned and taught over decades with pupils/students aged 6 to 65.

learnandsay Tue 22-Jan-13 09:13:01

No, it's not about research either.

bruffin Tue 22-Jan-13 09:27:04

They cant read well because they d have not been taught the skills to read well, not because they dont have the ability. Whole word methods dont give children the skills to read. Children like my dd will work the rules out for themselves, children like my ds and dh will look at the word and not get it, they will struggle to even remember the word the next time they see it, lt alone work out the code. They are equally intellilgent children. Even children with specific learning difficulties can be taught to read usually using phonics

learnandsay Tue 22-Jan-13 09:31:58

We don't know why they can't read very well. Whole word methods work for some people.

bruffin Tue 22-Jan-13 09:38:03

Why do you assume we dont why they cant read very well. There has been enough research in reading to work out why most people cant read well, hence going back to phonics.
Whole words may work for a minority, but either because they would learn using any method like my dd, or they just have a good memory.

Missbopeep Tue 22-Jan-13 09:40:33

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learnandsay Tue 22-Jan-13 09:45:13

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Mashabell Tue 22-Jan-13 10:11:46

Whole word methods dont give children the skills to read. Children like my dd will work the rules out for themselves
So they clearly do work with some children.
For the majority, starting with phonics is much better, for roughly the first year of learning to read and write.
But however they are taught, the final aim of all instruction is to be able to recognise all common words instantly, without decoing, as we all can now.

For learning to spell English, phonics is of very limited use (e.g. blue, shoe, flew, through, to, you, two, too).

learnandsay Tue 22-Jan-13 10:13:24

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mrz Tue 22-Jan-13 17:05:25

* learnandsay Tue 22-Jan-13 07:42:38*

But mixed methods may not be to blame. Perhaps the children just aren't very good at reading.

and suddenly become good readers once they have been taught effective strategies to tackle new words ...

mrz Tue 22-Jan-13 17:25:17

* Mashabell Tue 22-Jan-13 10:11:46*

Whole word methods dont give children the skills to read. Children like my dd will work the rules out for themselves
So they clearly do work with some children.
Sorry masha how do you get from working out phonics for themselves to whole word methods work!

Many children are able to work out that the "s" in ceiling is spelt with a <c> and the "j"s in ginger are spelt with the letter <g> and apply this knowledge when they encounter other words. That is far from being taught to memorise lists of whole words by sight from flashcards stuck round the house hmm

learnandsay Tue 22-Jan-13 17:50:53

The suddenly becoming good readers bit doesn't seem to be happening.

mrz Tue 22-Jan-13 17:53:24

but it is learnandsay

learnandsay Tue 22-Jan-13 17:54:48

Do you know these children?

mrz Tue 22-Jan-13 17:56:55

I know lots of children learnandsay and have taught hundreds to read about you?

learnandsay Tue 22-Jan-13 17:58:23

I'm talking about these particular children.

mrz Tue 22-Jan-13 18:03:29

and which particular children are we now talking about? The OPs child, the children in Y6 you brought into the discussion, the children maizieD teaches to read ...

learnandsay Tue 22-Jan-13 18:09:15

That's the point. If you don't even know which children I'm talking about then why are you arguing about them?

simpson Tue 22-Jan-13 18:16:05

There are plenty of children in my DS's class (yr3) who struggled initially with reading and were getting extra help.

These children are now being put into the top table for reading. They were taught using phonics and just needed more time (and practise IMO as they did not get the support at home, but that is a whole different debate grin)...

mrz Tue 22-Jan-13 18:17:55

No learnandsay the point is you introduced the thread on TES primary and made lots of silly remarks. The teacher on the thread said her lower ability children are working at level 3/4 which is actually the expected level for children in Y6 not as you seem to imagine the level of struggling readers. These children would be able to read most tabloid newspapers for example.
But please don't let knowledge get in the way of your assumptions.

There are teachers on the threads you contributed to with a great deal of experience of teaching children to read ...hundreds of children over many years but you believe you know best ...

Missbopeep Tue 22-Jan-13 19:28:43

There are teachers on the threads you contributed to with a great deal of experience of teaching children to read ...hundreds of children over many years but you believe you know best

And there are teachers on this thread who have taught hundreds if not thousands of pupils over years- possibly before some posters were even born- whose experience and knowledge is being dismissed outright. smile

learnandsay Tue 22-Jan-13 19:35:18

She said they've still learning to decode. If you believe decoding is necessary for reading then that means they're still learning to read.

mrz Tue 22-Jan-13 19:39:40

No she didn't ...what she said was "she wondered if they were getting the basic decoding skills they need" that doesn't mean they can't read

learnandsay Tue 22-Jan-13 19:40:53

I agree entirely. I don't think you need decoding skills to read.

mrz Tue 22-Jan-13 19:46:15

If you can't decode you can't read ... but level 3/4 child can decode

mrz Tue 22-Jan-13 19:47:11

and they can read

Missbopeep Tue 22-Jan-13 19:50:39

This is worth reading. I am not the author but I think anyone who is interested in reading - and there are plenty on this thread- should read it.

When I started teaching at Woods Loke Primary School, Suffolk, UK in the late 1970s, the method of teaching reading was ‘Look and Say’, where children were expected to look at whole words and memorise each one. In order to try and reduce the number of underachievers, our school introduced synthetic phonics. Immediately we noticed a huge improvement in all the children.

The next breakthrough came from a research project. The children were taught to hear and identify the sounds in words at the same time as they were being taught the letter sounds. By the end of the year, all the teachers involved felt that these children were a year ahead of where they would have been if we had not changed our method of teaching. On standardised reading tests our children were a year ahead, and best of all, there were very few underachievers.

In the 1980s, most schools in the UK followed the ‘Real Book’ approach, where children use readers from the start and are expected to work out themselves how the letters make up words. At our school we did not go down this route. We spent our time developing and improving the phonic method of teaching that had brought us such good results. Results in other schools started dropping but our results stayed high.

teacherwith2kids Tue 22-Jan-13 19:55:11

A Year 6 teacher in a school which has historically not taught phonics well, where such teaching does not continue after an initial romp through the sounds [in some schools, Phonics teaching - wrongly - only occus on entry to school, and is not followed up and reinfoced higher up the school - so even excellent early teaching can be 'overlaid' by mixed methods misteaching and non-phonic reading schemes in following years] may well find that the current group of Year 6s may have some gaps in their phonic knowledge which are forming a barrier to them making further progress from level 3/4 [a level 4 reader, btw, will be very capable of reading most children's chapter books - scarcely a non-reader].

That means that they need better phonics teaching - which hopefully the children in lower years now WILL be getting - NOT non-phonics teaching. If it is gaps in ponic knowledge that are causing the barrier, it is illogical to suggest sweeping away the very phonics teaching that could fill in these gaps....

learnandsay Tue 22-Jan-13 19:59:39

Of course you can read if you can't decode. Lots of people learned to read without decoding.

mrz Tue 22-Jan-13 20:00:47

It sounds from the post on TES that the teacher is fairly new to Y6 and works in a SATs factory (children are doing 1hr comprehension each day plus SPAG and she worries they may be teaching too much to the test) ... most of the class are already level 5 and the lower ability group are working at level 3/4 certainly not your average Y6 class.

mrz Tue 22-Jan-13 20:03:23

How do you read if you don't know what those squiggles on the page mean (aren't able to decode) learnandsay?

teacherwith2kids Tue 22-Jan-13 20:15:36

Apologies for appalling typing.

Decoding = literally, to make meaning from the squiggles on the page by 'deciphering' what they say. All readers decode. Not all readers use phonics (systematic sounding out) as their primary strategy for decoding ... but that doesn't mean it isn't the best 'main strategy' for those learning to read. I seem to remember that there is some research involving eye tracking and brain scanning that demonstrates that even fluent readers do actually decode all through words subconsciously, even when they would articulate the way in which they read as not involving phonics IYSWIM

Missbopeep Tue 22-Jan-13 20:46:10

Some people go though their whole lives not being able to decode very well, but have a functional level of literacy.

Someone in my close family finds decoding very hard- they are dyslexic. They can read- they have a degree- but their reading relies a lot on familiarity with technical topics and they don't read for pleasure becasue they find it too tiring. Give them an unknown polysyllabic word and they struggle to read it.

learnandsay Tue 22-Jan-13 22:22:00

Here's how you read without decoding

mrz Tue 22-Jan-13 22:32:47

I take that isn't you in the video learnandsay is that where you got your inspiration/expertise in reading instruction?
(the dog is decoding the squiggles on the cards)

yellowsubmarine53 Tue 22-Jan-13 22:54:10

I just popped by to see how this thread about teaching children to read was getting on.

There's a video of a dog.

It's gone off on a bit of a tangent, I think.

choccyp1g Tue 22-Jan-13 23:24:00

I think you've disproved your point LearnandSay. the dog can "read" the three words SIT UP, BANG, and WAVE. and do a particular action for each of them.

However, because the dog hasn't learnt phonics, and therefore does not know the sound made by SH, he could not read the command to make a mess on the carpet.

Whereas a child that can read SIT UP and has also learnt the "Sh" sound would be able to read SHUT UP and other similar words.

mrz Wed 23-Jan-13 07:11:18

I noticed it took 12 years to learn 3 words by the look and say method and only 750 000 words in the OED.

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 07:42:20

Of course the dog isn't decoding the words on the cards. It's just recognising whole words. The question is can you read without decoding and the answer is yes you can. It's that simple. I know some people have a hard time understanding it. But that's really all there is to it.

bruffin Wed 23-Jan-13 07:51:52

You are the one that is having a hard time understanding. Reading is being able to work out a new word for yourself without having to be told what it is.
As said above some children can covert word recognition to phonics, but most most people cant, and when they come across a new word need to be told what it is. Again a minority memorise those words quickly and have a bigger capacity of remembering words. Then you are left with those who struggle and a lot of those very badly.

Missbopeep Wed 23-Jan-13 08:53:51

<<hoots with laughter at doggy film>>grin

Is that some kind of ironic joke?

There are a number of ways the dog could appear to " read" the words.

He only has to perform 3 actions- we can't see what the owner is doing off camera so it is quite possible that they are giving hand signals or similar as instructions. OR that every time the sign is changed, he does the next action- regardless of what the letters say. Be interesting to see if he still did the same actions if the cards were blank, eh? Or had 1, 2, 3 written.

I think this thread has turned into something similar to someone shouting
"The world IS flat" over and over again.
Everyone lse is saying "Look dear, it really isn't".
"Oh it IS flat it's that simple. Don't you understand".

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 09:10:29

Reading is lots of different things.

And yes, of course there are a number of conspiracy theories about any subject. Maybe it's not a dog at all. Perhaps it's a hamster disguised as a dog.

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 09:20:42

And yes. You're right it is worrying that so many of our teachers can't grasp a simple fact such as that it is possible to read without decoding. Understanding that simple fact won't cause the earth to stop spinning.

Mashabell Wed 23-Jan-13 09:33:43

you are left with those who struggle and a lot of those very badly
And what they struggle with is rarely straightforward phonics, but the letters and letter strings which can have more than one sound (on - once; ^though - through^).
Anyone who doubts this, should make a note of the words their children stumble over. (That's a good idea anyway - for drawing their attention to them again after they have finished their reading book or story.)
Looking at such words again and saying them while doing so, several times over, helps to get them to stage where they recognise them without hesitation, i.e. being able to read them fluently. Such words have to be learnt with a mixture of phonics and brute memorisation.

Mrz and other 'nothing but phonics' evangelists tend to keep repeating that it's impossible to learn to read by sight-learning, because English supposedly has an exceptionally huge vocabulary. There are only around 7,000 words that most of us use regularly. Being able to sight-read just the 3,000 most frequent ones is already enough to turn children into very fluent readers.
For learning to read, anything that works is as good as anything else. All children use some phonics - for learning to write. And if English spelling was phonically more consistent, without horrors like 'blue shoe flew through to you two too', it would take a fraction of the time that it does now.

Feenie Wed 23-Jan-13 09:38:36

There are only around 7,000 words that most of us use regularly. Being able to sight-read just the 3,000 most frequent ones is already enough to turn children into very fluent readers.

That's a matter of opinion - and a strange opinion too. Why would you be happy that children only know a finite number of words just to get by, Masha, instead of the 140 odd tools which enable master an inifinite number? You seem to have very low standards indeed.

Thank goodness you don't teach reading.

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 09:41:17

It's pretty silly to argue that sight reading is impossible because that's plainly untrue. I don't really know why they do argue it. I suspect they just like arguing.

Missbopeep Wed 23-Jan-13 09:43:02

read just the 3,000 most frequent ones is already enough to turn children into very fluent readers.

Can you point me to those figures please? I'd like to see the research.

What do you call " fluent readers"?

A reading age of around 8 will enable you to read The Sun. If you want to read Dickens or Dostovsky then you'd struggle.

Functional literacy which gets you by- almost- day to day- is one thing. Reading for meaning and being able to read anything put in front of you is another.

What the anti=phonics lot don't seem to graps - and it's not hard- is that some words are learned by some children using Look and Say. But other children find this impossible due to poor visual memories. Learning to read through Look and Say is limiting at best and has failed millions of children- I know because I have picked up the pieces, teaching them when they were either in secondary school or as adults.

bruffin Wed 23-Jan-13 09:45:01

Masha I was not talking about struggling with phonics, I was talking about struggling to memorise words and workout the phonic codes for themselves, because with word recognition that is what you are expected to do.

Mashabell Wed 23-Jan-13 10:25:40

It is often claimed that English now has around 1 million words, but my big OED has merely 350,000 entries, with masses of multiple ones for different meanings of the same word. Yet even the Ch 4 Countown dictionary expert Suzie Dent often does not know a word the contestants come up with (often not knowing their spelling or pronunciation either). Many of the words are not really English at all (e.g. posada, mercado, schadenfreude) and extremely rarely used by anyone. I would not expect primary children to know those.
I base the 3,000 figure on my learning and teaching of four languages. Once I knew 3,000 English words i had no difficulty reading the Dickens which I had to do as part of my L2 course back in the 60s.
I have not counted exactly, but I don't think that I know more than 2,500 French words, but can get by pretty well in it and have no difficulty reading French.

I got fed up with people making different claims about how irregular English spelling is and spent 2 years investigating it myself. I started with the 25,000 most used English words on the Cobuild corpus (as E Carney had done for his 'Survey of English Spelling' in the early 90s), but when I eliminated compounds which needed no new learning for spelling (e.g. backpack, teapot) and derivatives (e.g. works, workings - from 'word'), I ended up with just 6,800.
I have since come across a few more dozen words which I deem common enough to be on that list. But I can say pretty categorically that the words which the majority of people know number around 7,000, irrespective of what wild claims others make - to support their view that couldn't possibly learn to read English mainly by sight.
We can and do. Phonics is just the beginning.

Missbopeep Wed 23-Jan-13 10:50:24

So we are supposed to believe this " research" which is carried out by you as part of some course you did?

And that invalidates all the work done by people more highly qualified in the teaching of reading, and who have been awarded OBE/MBEs etc for their work?
I am amazed TBH that you come on here and think that your "research" has some credibility. it's a joke.

What you don't appear to "get" is that some people- as has been said numerous times on this thread already- decode spontaneously without having to be taught how to. I'd include myself in that group. I was an excellent reader as a child. It is only as an adult now with specialist training in phonics that I understand how I was using phonics and spelling rules all along- I just didn't know it.

I'd like you to explain why so many children- and adults-cannot read - even at a functional level-when they have been " taught" by look and say or mixed methods? If your theory was to hold any water at all, then everyone leaving primary school would be able to read well- the fact is that 20-25% cannot.

And to agree with feenie, you set the bar very low if you think that learning a finite number of words is good enough .

Manictigger Wed 23-Jan-13 11:05:10

I suspect that whether teachers like it or not, a lot of children are learning to read using mixed methods. I know the 43 Jolly Phonic sounds but have no idea about alternative spellings or tricky bits of words etc and have no idea whether or not dd has been taught them. As a result if dd comes across a word which she cannot work out at home I just tell her the right pronounciation and she then tends to memorise the word even if it was phonetically decodeable. Since I am not a teacher and these days teachers seem to dedicate relatively little time to listening to children read (especially those who are considered good readers), this is surely inevitable?

I don't think LandS is particularly anti phonics (and I think she's said on other threads that she agrees that it is the best way for whole classes to be taught) but I agree with her that for some children phonics is fantastic, for others (like my dd I think) it is a way of decoding a word which they then memorise and for others, it will just lead to confusion.

Just as an aside, how do children learn to use the different spellings of a word e.g. need and knead? Surely they have to just....memorise them?

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 11:19:47

Phonics adherents aren't against children remembering anything. They just don't want children to learn to read by remembering entire words.

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 11:22:22

And yes, you're also right that I'm not against phonics (or penicillin.) But I am against fanaticism (of any kind.)

yellowsubmarine53 Wed 23-Jan-13 11:40:07

But you're probably the most fanatical person on this thread, lands.

Other than the woman who taught her hound to bark at text, that is.

Phonics isn't fanaticism, any more than number lines are in maths. They're a means to and end that work for most children.

Missbopeep Wed 23-Jan-13 11:53:53

Manic as a teacher I'd say you aren't doing your daughter any favours by telling her words she doesn't know. You need to encourage her to sound out.

You won't always be by her side when she is reading and she will always come across words that are new.

Re. the different spellings you quoted: it's not that hard really. I would teach children that the long e sound is made in several ways- and we would learn one at a time. They would have ee words, ea words, etc. Words beginning with a silent letter would be another group- all silent k one week, silent b another, silent w another etc etc.

I think this argument is dea now TBH.
The advice to schools is to use synthetic phonics because it's been proved to work. End of.

Manictigger Wed 23-Jan-13 12:03:21

No Yellow, phonics isn't fanaticism, but whenever people discuss phonics on MN there is much talk of 'functional illiteracy' and the problems caused by children not learning to read phonically. The fact that generations have learnt to read without being taught phonics and have gone on to become great scientists, artists etc is generally ignored. I agree that children should be taught to read phonically but I think that to imply that to learn in other ways is harmful (note - not the school teaching in other ways but the child LEARNING in other ways) is scaremongering.

OP I think the worrying thing about your post is the fact that your daughter is 'scared' about the reading. I would read up a bit on helping her with her phonics but concentrate on making the reading fun rather than pressurised.

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 12:07:26

The fanatics are the people who try their hardest to argue that something that is evidently true, such as sight reading is possible, isn't in fact true at all. Why would someone want to do that? That's where the fanaticism is here. And it's leading some people to suggest repeatedly giving phonics instruction to pupils who can't benefit from it. It's blind dogma and it's dangerous.

scaevola Wed 23-Jan-13 12:08:02


Phonics was the only method of teaching reading for centuries! There was only a brief fad in the late 20th century for other methods and mixed methods, and the results really weren't good.

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 12:10:11

No it wasn't.

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 12:12:00

Phonics was only invented by Pascal in 1654.

Manictigger Wed 23-Jan-13 12:15:20

Miss Bopeep, as we both agree, I am not a teacher, so how am I expected to know whether or not she has learnt an alternative spelling for a sound? How am I supposed to know whether it is a tricky part of a word?

As for the need/knead thing - I am talking about spelling. I agree phonics is great for reading, I am far less convinced about spelling.

MissBopeep, am so glad you are not dd's teacher, I would be really hurt to be told by dd's teacher that I am 'doing my dd no favours' even though I am doing my best for her.

Missbopeep Wed 23-Jan-13 12:15:31

Manic The fact that generations have learnt to read without being taught phonics and have gone on to become great scientists, artists etc is generally ignored.


Sorry but how old are you?
I was taught to read using phonics in the early 60s. My parents- now in their mid 80s- were taught by phonics.

Until the 1980s when my children were subjected to the fashion of Look and Say then phonics has always been used.

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 12:18:11

The last sentence doesn't make sense.

Missbopeep Wed 23-Jan-13 12:18:34

Manic- that is a silly coment about being hurt. Surely as a parent you want to know how best to help your daughter? Being all precious and hurt when a professional tells you to do it differently is just plain daft.

Would you feel upset if a tennis or football coach suggested your child learnt those skills in a differnet way to the ones you were using at home?

I'd be thrilled if a professional offered advice on how I could help my child- and the parents with whom I work are eager to know what to do- I even give handouts to help them!

scaevola Wed 23-Jan-13 12:20:41

No, phonics has no one 'inventor', and if you look at mediaeval texts you will see phonics in action in pre-standardised spelling.

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 12:21:02

Professionals often get things wrong. Why else would councils have procedures for striking members off? Being professional and being right aren't the same thing at all.

Missbopeep Wed 23-Jan-13 12:21:58

Miss Bopeep, as we both agree, I am not a teacher, so how am I expected to know whether or not she has learnt an alternative spelling for a sound?

Well- you could pop in and ask the teacher for a start if you are unsure of what they are doing.

How old is your daughter? Has the shcool not given parents advice on phonics? Many schools have parents' nights or meetings when they advise parents of how SP are taught. They send home handouts on which sounds are being taught and when. Children have word lists to take home, to learn spellings.

Does your daughter's school not do any of this?

Feenie Wed 23-Jan-13 12:22:17

The fanatics are the people who try their hardest to argue that something that is evidently true, such as sight reading is possible, isn't in fact true at all. Why would someone want to do that?

Simple - because we have seen it work with hundreds of children, and picked up the pieces where sight reading has failed. Hardly 'blind' dogma.

Out of interest, learnandsay, do you go on medical boards and chat with the medical profession about how wrong and dangerous their professional views can be? In the interests of fairness, like. hmm

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 12:24:13

The medieval period (if we're talking about Old and Middle English) had successive waves of spellings pronunciations, language changes, invasions and heaven knows what else. I'm sorry. But you won't find a phonics standard there!

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 12:34:06

Just because some people are frightened of flying that doesn't mean that flight is impossible. If you're frightened of the consequences of sight reading then say so. That's fine. But to argue that it's impossible when it's clearly not is just silly.

Manictigger Wed 23-Jan-13 12:41:06

I'm sorry, Missbobeep, I just find your responses rude and more suited to the AIBU board so I'm off.

bruffin Wed 23-Jan-13 12:43:08

Missbeepop, i do agree with everything you ay, except my DH was born in1961 and taught using Look and Say. His Hm told MIL when she was going into school for help with dh reading, that he would never learn to read with that method but her hands were tied.
When he was 10 they finally sent him to remedial class where he was taught phonics, but too late for his emotional health.

CecilyP Wed 23-Jan-13 12:50:59

Manic as a teacher I'd say you aren't doing your daughter any favours by telling her words she doesn't know. You need to encourage her to sound out.

Why does she need to; I never did. If teachers continue to send reading books home, parents will use them as they see fit. Teachers probably appreciate the extra practice that children get, regardless - otherwise they wouldn't send them. Or do children whose parents don't listen to them read make better progress because they are not subject to anything other than the purist approach?

Stange is it may seem, I was talking to DS about people with reading and spelling difficulties and he said, 'hmff, why don't they just sound out the letters', which seemed odd from a boy who had never attempted to sound out any letters - well, not in my presence anyway.

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 12:54:05

It's not that odd if he doesn't have trouble reading his way. He's talking about people who do have trouble. Sounds pretty clever to me.

Missbopeep Wed 23-Jan-13 13:03:22

CecilyP- you ask various questions which are a bit odd confused
When you say "I never did" do you mean you yourself, or you as a parent?

Whichever, it only shows that some children learn more easily and work out the counding out for themselves and do it silently in their heads.

One example does not prove a point- any more than saying great aunt Ethel smoked 100 a day and she never got cancer, so we can deduce from that that smoking is harmless.

Of course, listening to your child read is valuable.
Most parents are advised how to help best- such as shared reading or paired reading. If you do not know what these are you can find out easily on the web.

The advice to a parent is to listen to a child read and give them time to try to read a word they stuggle with. If they cannot, then the parents ask if they can read the first two letters- sounding them out and blending together. You work through the word like that. ANY advice you see for parents will tell you not to jump in and say the whole word to a child too soon. If you do, the child is not learning how to decode for themselves.

There is no such thing as a "purist" approach. There are ways to help which parents can easily adopt.

CecilyP Wed 23-Jan-13 13:03:28

The fact that generations have learnt to read without being taught phonics and have gone on to become great scientists, artists etc is generally ignored.

I'm not sure that they have, really. The fact that children were given sight words and simple repetitive reading books to get them started, did not preclude any teaching of phonics at some stage during primary school. Perhaps not in the constant and comprehensive manner that synthetic phonics covers everything, but I doubt if many schools ignored it completely.

Look and Say methods really started in the UK in the 1950s with the Janet and John books, and I certainly remember getting my reading book on my first day of school although I did not know any letters. I assume I was taught these later (because I am not so brainy that I could have worked it all out for myself) but I have very little recollection of this.

CecilyP Wed 23-Jan-13 13:07:11

Phonics was only invented by Pascal in 1654.

That is a strange take. Surely phonics was 'invented' by the originators of alphabetic writing systems - as opposed to hyroglyphics.

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 13:10:54

Compulsory universal education only began in Britain in 1870 with the Foster Act.

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 13:11:45

Look Pascal's invention up, cecily.

HaphazardTophat Wed 23-Jan-13 13:15:24

Right, so I've lurked over this thread for a while and I now have a couple of questions. I can tell posters have some passionate feelings so I hope I don't offend anyone.

1) When debates start about phonics why is "The Rose Report" always thrown up? I know it is the government white paper and is where the "decree" came from that synthetic phonics is mandatory in schools, but none of the posters who bring up the report actually refer to any of the content in support to a point they are making. They just seem to use the title.

2) This is for the teachers. Is synthetic phonics the only way used to teach your children/adults to read? I'm not talking about mixed methods and "whole word" etc, but just wondering if there are any other components taught such as comprehension?

CecilyP Wed 23-Jan-13 13:16:15

Compulsory education made education available to the poorest because it became free. That doesn't mean that there weren't an awful lot of people who had some education before that time. I will look up Pascal, lands, but I can't see how he invented phonics, exactly. I mean, the ancient Greeks already had it long before Pascal's time.

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 13:17:59

I think the Rose Report pointed out how diabolically teaching reading had been done up to that point and suggested what to do about it.

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 13:22:34

If you can show me an Ancient Greek phonics primer then so much the better. Merely having sounds for letters isn't the same thing as having a sound for combinations of letters. My understanding of the Greek inheritance of the Phonetician alphabet was that the letters had sounds and words were spelled using them. As far as I know nobody split language up into phonemes before Pascal.

CecilyP Wed 23-Jan-13 13:27:45

^CecilyP- you ask various questions which are a bit odd
When you say "I never did" do you mean you yourself, or you as a parent?Whichever, it only shows that some children learn more easily and work out the counding out for themselves and do it silently in their heads.^

Thats me - odd! I mean as a parent. DS didn't appear to have worked out decoding for himself as he would pause at an unknown word, I would supply it and he would know it next time. I assume he was eventually taught some phonics by whoever he learned the expression 'sound out the letters' from.
In those days you just got reading books home - no advice was given on what to do with them. I assumed the extra practice was worthwhile.

CecilyP Wed 23-Jan-13 13:42:19

No, I can't show you an Ancient Greek phonics primer, lands, interesting concept as that is. Surely having sounds for individual letters or combinations of letters is just a matter of how words are represented in that particular language - the alphabetic principle is the same.

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 13:47:30

Having phonemes is a separate idea because it means that you can use combinations of letters to form single sounds but they don't need to look similar. I'm sure all alphabetic languages have them. But pointing that out is another matter. I think Pascal was the first person to point it out.

Missbopeep Wed 23-Jan-13 14:01:01

Haphazard I am not a KS1 teacher, I am a specialist teacher plugging the gaps with children who haven't learned(yet) to read. I know hoever that comprehension is part of the curriculum so no teacher is going to just teach phonics without adding in writing and reading for meaning.

I think we need to go back to basics here.

The point is that in a westernised, civiilsed society, we have a huge number of people- children and adults- who are illiterate- functionally illiterate. At least 20% of boys leave primary school below the level they should achieve.

Some have general learning difficulties or low ability ( Bell curve distribution) some have specific learning difficulties- dyslexia. Add to that Aspergers, dyspraxia etc.

It is a scandal that after 11 years- and soon to be 13 years- of compulsory education, a fifth of the population cannot read or write well.

Some children pick up reading and spelling easily. Just as some children run onto the football pitch and have the talent to be a D Beckham, without loads and loads of training.

Others struggle to read and need structured, on going, teaching.

There is a huge amount of evidence and research by people like Debbie Hepplwhite, Sue Lloyd, Ruth Miskin etc which shows the success of SP.

This research has been enough to convince the government to suggest that SP has its place and should be used in schools.

Many enlightened schools have used SP for years. Some- where the teachers were trained in the late 70s and 80s- went for the Look and Say /Mixed/Real Books methods. They were usually trained by lecturers who rarely went to the chalk face and liked to experiment with their theories on the way to get children to love books- and, they hoped, read.

Those methods failed millions of children- many of whom are now in prison .
Huge % of prison population is illiterate for all kinds of reasons but poor teaching is a factor.

I am not going to add any more to this thread. I have experienced all methods of teaching- as a child myself, as a parent and as a teacher for over 30 years.

I know what works best but if anyone else wants to say SP is not the best way, that's up to them.

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 14:28:34

Manic, when you do come back, and I hope you do soon, of course you're doing your daughter a favour by reading with her. I think some teachers get a bit confused between teaching reading and telling the rest of the world what to do, when to do it and how to do it. You mustn't let that get in the way of being a terrific mum and reading lots with your daughter. Do the best you can. You're doing a terrific job. Lots of parents don't read at all with their children. Those are the children who really suffer.

mrz Wed 23-Jan-13 17:04:01

Professionals often get things wrong. not as wrong as those who think that training and experience count for nothing.

mrz Wed 23-Jan-13 17:06:07

Maybe it's not a dog at all. Perhaps it's a hamster disguised as a dog. so it definitely isn't you in the video?

mrz Wed 23-Jan-13 17:28:25

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 13:11:45

Look Pascal's invention up, cecily.

Perhaps you should follow your own advice learnandsay then you would know that Pascal is credited with discovering that it was possible to split the syllable into smaller units - phonemes, and in doing so created the synthetic phonics method. Phonics had been around for many, many centuries prior to this discovery in different forms.

Feenie Wed 23-Jan-13 17:49:45

Haphazard - no teaching of reading ignores comprehension.

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 18:02:22

Everything has been around somewhere, including the wheel. Columbus didn't discover America in 1492 it was already there and people were living in it. Let's all generalise about everything for ever and ever.

maizieD Wed 23-Jan-13 18:04:13

Perhaps you should follow your own advice learnandsay then you would know that Pascal is credited with discovering that it was possible to split the syllable into smaller units - phonemes, and in doing so created the synthetic phonics method.

I very much doubt that Pascal 'discovered' how to break syllables into phonemes; maybe, 'rediscovered that it could be done' might be more accurate. It is an indisputable fact that the Greek (and previously, the Phoenician) alphabet is based on a one to one correspondence between phoneme and symbol. So the Phoenicians and Greeks must have been well aware of phonemes. It was the Greeks who introduced the symbols for the vowel phonemes.

Many languages in the past had regular patterns of syllables which made it straightforward to teach reading by learning to 'read' and blend syllables rather than phonemes but this wouldn't work very effectively for 'mongrel' languages like English that didn't have a regular set of syllables. I believe that French isn't particularly 'transparent' either, which would make Pascal's ideas very useful for them.

mrz Wed 23-Jan-13 18:07:48

So you agree that you were totally wrong in your statement regarding Pascal

I also suggest you look up "hornbooks" ...15thC phonics instruction

maizieD Wed 23-Jan-13 18:08:07

Having phonemes is a separate idea because it means that you can use combinations of letters to form single sounds but they don't need to look similar.

Lands. I'm sure this sentence made sense to you when you wrote it but it isn't making any sense at all to me. Can you clarify what you intended it to mean?

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 18:10:33

We don't know what Ancient Greek sounded like. It's a matter of debate. And as for Phoenecian is concerned, I'm not even sure if anyone is even debating that one.

maizieD Wed 23-Jan-13 18:20:30

We don't know what Ancient Greek sounded like.

Are you a Classical Greek scholar?

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 18:21:23

I guess you were around in those days to hear it.

mrz Wed 23-Jan-13 18:23:09

I'll take that as a no then learnandsay

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 18:26:38

Whether I am or not makes no difference. I wasn't there. So my best analysis would be an educated guess. (Unless I'm a very, very old scholar.)

mrz Wed 23-Jan-13 18:32:05

OK a firm no it is then.

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 18:48:28

It's not a firm anything. The question is irrelevant.

mrz Wed 23-Jan-13 18:53:12

I realise you like to make statements that are not actually based in fact learnandsay and then dismiss anyone who questions your assertions but if you want to be taken seriously you need to back up your ramblings.

Missbopeep Wed 23-Jan-13 18:55:02

Funny how irrelevant becomes an excuse reason from some posters when they simply want to dodge a tricky question.

mrz Wed 23-Jan-13 18:55:05

I'm more inclined to believe you are the star of the video than to consider for a moment that you know anything about the history of reading instruction.

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 18:55:12

You'd do well to stop denything things which are self-evidently true too. We can all give advice freely.

Missbopeep Wed 23-Jan-13 18:55:27


mrz Wed 23-Jan-13 19:07:17

There is nothing more hateful than bad advice.

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 19:07:54

Don't hate yourself, please.

mrz Wed 23-Jan-13 19:09:48

I'm not giving advice ...are you?

Don't bother answering it's irrelevant

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 19:29:42

You were indeed.

mrz Wed 23-Jan-13 19:31:02

You are wrong ...again!

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 19:33:48

I believe you were writing on what I need to do. I think on your way to your next posting you should pick up a dictionary and look up the word advice. Don't tax yourself too much worrying about denying the self evident at the moment. One thing at a time, eh?

mrz Wed 23-Jan-13 19:39:45

Really I thought we were discussing your video performance and expertise in Ancient Greek ... perhaps you are also unsure on the difference between instructions and advice

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 19:44:11

Who are you in a position to give instructions to?

mrz Wed 23-Jan-13 19:45:10

You would be surprised wink

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 19:47:07

Hmmm, maybe. But if accepting your "instructions" is voluntary then all you are doing is redefining advice as instruction. We can all make up our own private definitions.

mrz Wed 23-Jan-13 19:53:31

I had noticed you have a talent for it smile

Missbopeep Wed 23-Jan-13 19:54:27

A "defintion" even if private- if there is such as thing confused is always preferable to a series of evasions when questions are asked.

learnandsay Wed 23-Jan-13 19:57:07

Yeah, right! What was that Sophocles quote again?

Missbopeep Wed 23-Jan-13 20:00:21

What has Sophocles got to do with KS 2 phonics? I think someone like to drop in the references to classics to try to impress.

mrz Wed 23-Jan-13 20:03:45

Twas me wink and I wasn't trying to impress

teacherwith2kids Thu 24-Jan-13 18:07:15

Coming back to this because it's been going round in my mind - this thing about 'memorising whole words' as a way to learn to read. What this would really look like if a child did it, vs what it looks like if a child 'is told what a whole word says' and uses the pieces of that word (the grapheme / phoneme correspondances that it contains) to add to a personal store of such knowledge in order to read other words?

A child who genuinely only learned to read by whole word recognition is a bit like an Egyption looking at a 'pure' heiroglyph - that picture means X God. Whe it is seen again, that picture can be recognised and re-named 'that's X', but it doesn't help in reading any other heiroglyph. So such a child, taught the word 'know', would only be able to read the word 'know'. A child TOLD that 'know' says 'know', but using such information to add to the store of phonics knowledge in their brain, and would be able to use the new information about 'kn' to subsequently read e.g. knight, known, knowledge in the way that a child only 'knowing the whole word' would not.

That is why I believe that even children who APPEAR to learn through whole word recognition IN MOST CASES show through their later reading behaviour that they are in fact using those 'taught' words to add to a store of 'known graphemes', not as 'whole word pictures'.

learnandsay Thu 24-Jan-13 18:20:52

I wouldn't be at all surprised if different children react differently. When my daughter was only sight reading she would read the word hat. But if you put an s on the end of it she would say I don't know that word and refuse to read it.

maizieD Thu 24-Jan-13 18:45:53

A child TOLD that 'know' says 'know', but using such information to add to the store of phonics knowledge in their brain, and would be able to use the new information about 'kn' to subsequently read e.g. knight, known, knowledge in the way that a child only 'knowing the whole word' would not.

I agree that it might be possible, tw2k, but you couldn't rely on it happening. I feel that it is better not to waste time on possibly damaging strategies when it is no real hardship for the child to sound out and blend the word; even if they need a little help with an unfamiliar grapheme.

As I frequently say; you don't know if something is causing harm until the harm is evident and then it is too late...

teacherwith2kids Thu 24-Jan-13 18:54:01

Sorry Maizie, I was not ADVOCATING this approach in any way - I am a firm believer in proper phonics teaching.

However, I know that some people say 'oh, but my child learned through learning whole words', and I was musing on what 'only learning through whole words' would REALLY look like and trying to suggest that in fact something else is likely to be going on.

The beauty of phonics is that it makes this 'invisible magic' visible and explicit to EVERYONE, which is why the percentage that learn to read using phonics is so much higher than through look and say methods, as the latter requires some 'invisible magic' to take place which is never made explicit.

mrz Thu 24-Jan-13 18:56:39

If we were reading a story book in reception class (same would apply at home of course) and came across the word "know" and we hadn't taught the spellings <kn> & <ow> at that point I would simply teach <kn> is another way to spell "n" and <ow> is another way to spell "oa" and ask the child/ren to help me read the word "n" "oa" ... that way when they meet knight, and known and knit and knife and own and snow and blow they already have the knowledge to tackle the words.
Some children do work out the spelling sound relationships without explicit teaching but as yet there isn't a foolproof way to identify these fortunate individuals and their less fortunate peers.

teacherwith2kids Thu 24-Jan-13 18:59:52

Exactly, mrz - I say again that I am in no way advocating a whole word approach. I am simply trying to explain to those who think children genuinely learn to read through whole word teaching that in fact there is something else -poor children - having to go on in order for it to work IYSWIM.

teacherwith2kids Thu 24-Jan-13 19:02:42

As I have said before, my DS was a self-taught reader who made successful 'untaight' links between whole words and phoneme / grapheme correspondances. I would never suggest that anyone should have taight him that way, just that is what happened even though he APPEARED to learn rom whole words (he memorised texts, then in time used the phonics he had worked out to read unknown texts).

OBVIOUSLY, direct phonic teaching is much more effcient in creating those links and doing so reliably.

teacherwith2kids Thu 24-Jan-13 19:07:20

And from this thread it is obvious that there ARE some people who think 'phonics is unnecessary / wrong because MY child managed without it'... whereas in fact they just didn't see the 'impicit / invisible' phonics happening in their child. It will do no child harm to be taught phonics REALLY well, and will do all but a very,very tiny minority good (my DS had a great Reception teacher who taught him to use phonics really effectively in spelling, even though he didn't by that point need it for decoding)

learnandsay Thu 24-Jan-13 19:31:00

I don't think a successful look and say approach is really phonics in disguise argument will work. People have surprised themselves on threads like this with just how many ways there are to represent the sounds ee or ay. But when you learn with whole words the concept is entirely alien. The closest a whole word reader comes to it is when rhyming poetry. Whole word readers are aware that there are sounds in their language. But they don't try to manipulate them when reading. And some graphemes are so peculiar like ear and aigh eigh that most people would be unlikely to come up with them independently.

mrz Thu 24-Jan-13 19:37:24

People have surprised themselves on threads like this with just how many ways there are to represent the sounds ee or ay

Have they? Most teachers know how many ways there are to write the sounds so they are unlikely to be surprised.

There are about 175-180 ways to write the 44 sounds of the English language. There are approx 750000 words in the OED ...

mrz Thu 24-Jan-13 19:40:15

oh and a great many of MN poster who aren't teachers are very well informed about phonics so know very well how many ways sounds can be written.

learnandsay Thu 24-Jan-13 19:45:16

To see who was surprised you'd need to look back over the thread. Obviously I'm not saying the people who already knew were surprised that they knew. I don't know why you're arguing.

mrz Thu 24-Jan-13 19:59:50

I'm merely pointing out that I've never seen anyone post that they were surprised by the number of ways there are to spell "ay" (apart from your recent post)
I'm going to do a masha type list


mrz Thu 24-Jan-13 20:00:36

I can't imagine any MN posters haven't seen all those spellings of the sound "ay"

Tgger Thu 24-Jan-13 20:11:32

learnandsay, how do you know what is going on in the brain of "whole word" readers? This fascinates me.

My guess is that at some level, subconscious probably, there is some sort of pattern recognition going on. It's helpful isn't it? Phonics is just an explicit means of teaching this and uses sounds as they are also explicit. Would you teach a kid the keyboard with the sound turned off?

DS tonight stumbled on "feverishly". Divide it into "fever" and "ishly" and bingo no problem.

learnandsay Thu 24-Jan-13 20:13:17

Well maybe now's the time to look then.

learnandsay Thu 24-Jan-13 20:13:44

Because I'm one, tgger.

mrz Thu 24-Jan-13 20:14:21

you are indeed

Tgger Thu 24-Jan-13 20:17:30

Are you sure?

learnandsay Thu 24-Jan-13 20:18:35

What do you mean, am I sure? Of course I'm sure.

Tgger Thu 24-Jan-13 20:19:02

Perhaps you could do a Phd in some neuro-phonics thing learnandsay?

Tgger Thu 24-Jan-13 20:19:27

That might help you argue your case better grin.

learnandsay Thu 24-Jan-13 20:20:06

Perhaps I could, but why would I want to?

Tgger Thu 24-Jan-13 20:23:10

Evidence based argument.

teacherwith2kids Thu 24-Jan-13 20:25:32

So, learn and say, you are saying that, for you, all words are 'pictures' - each one is unique and distinct, but you cannot apply what you know about the 'patrts' of one word to read any others? Like heiroglyphs?

So faced with an unknown word, unless it contains other 'whole words' that you know as separate words (so you might, for example, know 'know' and 'ledge', and produce a mispornounced 'knowledge' as a result) you cannot read it at all?

learnandsay Thu 24-Jan-13 20:26:09

There's not much of that on mumsnet. It's mostly type, argue, type. Whoops!! Think of a witty face-saving reply, on all sides.

teacherwith2kids Thu 24-Jan-13 20:26:15

Keyboard trouble. Sorry.

teacherwith2kids Thu 24-Jan-13 20:28:27

So faced with e.g. pterosaur, you would be be reliant on a dictionary with a punctuation guide to be able to make it out at all?

learnandsay Thu 24-Jan-13 20:28:37

No, teacher. We did get taught about plurals, possessives, grammar, and spelling. And we have learned other languages.

teacherwith2kids Thu 24-Jan-13 20:30:15

(I mean, you probably already know pterosaur, as I know nobody over the age of 4 who has not had 'the dinosaur phase', but assume that I mean 'an unknown word containing no standard known words, ie no 'word pictures' that you recognise)

learnandsay Thu 24-Jan-13 20:30:44

No, I think I've seen it before as a dinosaur that flies.

learnandsay Thu 24-Jan-13 20:32:13

We've had this conversation about the word Achaean. How does anybody know precisely how to pronounce it?

teacherwith2kids Thu 24-Jan-13 20:33:45


Which is why I didn't give you a plural, possessive, or a word with a common grammatical function e.g. their - I gave you the example of an unknown noun in the sungular. As I further clarified it did not have to be pterosaur.

Spelling would be of no help to someone who did not use sounds at all to help them to read a word. the word is a 'picture' - a shape made out of those letters. Spelling merely helps you to reproduce that shape. The question I am asking is 'how do you read an unknown word that contains no 'whole words' that you do not already know?

learnandsay Thu 24-Jan-13 20:35:37

Spelling is factual. In order to spell without using sounds you simply remember sequences of letters.

teacherwith2kids Thu 24-Jan-13 20:36:25

The question remains - given a word that you do not know, how does an adult whole-word reader know how to read it if it contains no words within it that they already know?

I know that e.g. when faced with a heavy name in a Russian novel (I learned Latin, French, and some Greek, but no Russian) I use segmenting and phonics - not explicitly, but implicitly and very quickly. What do you use, if you are a genuine whole word only reader?

teacherwith2kids Thu 24-Jan-13 20:39:44

Say 'Raskolnikov' or 'Yevginey' or 'Pyotr' - those are the words I vcan 'gfeel' myself sounding out in y head in order to read aloud. If you read Russian, then maybe an Indian name would be an equivalent example for you.

teacherwith2kids Thu 24-Jan-13 20:40:35

e.g. Gangopadhyay

teacherwith2kids Thu 24-Jan-13 20:42:00

I can see that, for you, such a name would be
'Gang' [unknown] 'pad' [unknown].

How do you fill in the unknown bits?

learnandsay Thu 24-Jan-13 20:42:09

As a whole word reader I have two choices, I can guess or I can fail to read the word. But in some situations phonics pupils aren't much better off. Because phonics gives a range of pronunciations for certain letter combinations but it does not tell the pupil which is the correct pronunciation.

So, if the pupil was reading a speech which contained the word Achaean and didn't already know how to pronounce it she would probably get laughed at by the audience if it knew and she didn't.

mrz Thu 24-Jan-13 20:42:16

How about "pygalgia"? whole word or syllables

learnandsay Thu 24-Jan-13 20:44:44

I'd look it up in a dictionary.

teacherwith2kids Thu 24-Jan-13 20:45:03

So a child whole word reader is at a hige disadvantage - they have to learn as many whole words as possible while there is still some authority to tell them how to say the word or to verify which guess is wight.

Meanwhile a phonic reader has the tools to continue to decode unknown words throughout their life...

Whic one can really read??

teacherwith2kids Thu 24-Jan-13 20:45:17

Argh. Keyboard.

teacherwith2kids Thu 24-Jan-13 20:47:23

So every time you find a word that you cannot read - including names, which you cannot look up in the dictionary - you have to look it up to commit it to your word store?

It must make reading novols by foreign writers, set in far-flung places, or the foreign news pages of the papers, an absolute bore, having to look up how to read something every couple of sentences.

Tgger Thu 24-Jan-13 20:49:01

Just as an aside, I have found I am absolutely rubbish with Greek Gods names- DS has a Greek Myths book at the moment that he really likes. I have no classical background blush. I try to use "sounding out/phonics" but am often wrong or unsure.... I need to visit the quicklinks website, although DH's knowledge is better and easier to access grin.

learnandsay Thu 24-Jan-13 20:49:32

Not really, I'm not trying to pronounce the words. If I was trying to read them from an autocue and couldn't pronounce them, then yes. It would be a pain. But I'm not.

teacherwith2kids Thu 24-Jan-13 20:52:02

(On a tangential point, btw, one of the things that teachers have to do in order to enable some children to read effectively at a high level is to increase the range of vocabulary that they are exposed to. After all, if you sound out 'psalm' and neither p-s-alm nor 's-alm' matches any word that you have every come across in your life, then you are at a disadvantage... and such children, like whole word readers, do need an adult to say 'this is the correct version, and the word means...')

teacherwith2kids Thu 24-Jan-13 20:54:13

It must be rather sad, really, going through life thinking 'well, I know that there was a disaster somewhere because I read about it, but I have absolutely no idea how to say the name of the place so I hope no-one ever wants to talk about it'... must also be difficult for you to discuss such things with your child.

mrz Thu 24-Jan-13 20:55:22

What about when you are reading aloud to your daughter?

learnandsay Thu 24-Jan-13 20:55:33

Insufficient instruction is a setback in any discipline.

learnandsay Thu 24-Jan-13 20:57:58

We don't read Russian novels at bed time. But I'm familiar with quite a few foreign texts. So we should be OK for a couple of years yet. When she wants me to help her with Mongolian originals I'll probably decline though.

teacherwith2kids Thu 24-Jan-13 20:59:43

(I suspect, by the way, that you do use phonics in your guessing, because I don't think anyone 'genuinely literate', in the sense of being able to assimilate new words, only uses whole word techniques. I am just pointing out that if you ONLY used 'whole words as pictures' methods to read, then there are an awful lot of everyday situations - ordering from an Indian menu, say - in which you would be, literally, lost for words because you would be unable to break into the words at all)

teacherwith2kids Thu 24-Jan-13 21:01:14

Say, given 'brinjal', if you didn't know it - what sound would you make first? I would assert that you would, 100% of the time, say 'b' - this using phonic knowledge.

mrz Thu 24-Jan-13 21:01:40

just as well pygalgia isn't Russian or Mongolian then.

teacherwith2kids Thu 24-Jan-13 21:07:17

I suppose what I am saying is that your guesses would be phonically reasonable ones. You would not start to read 'pygalgia' with the sound 'l' or 'n' - you would use your knowledge of phonics to start it with a 'p'. I would also suggest that the only 2 sounds you would consider for 'g' would be hard 'g' or soft 'j' sounds, not a m or a f ... and you would probably apply implicit knowledge of phonics and spelling patterns to posit that it is more likely to be 'j' as in 'giant' than 'g' as in 'gutter'.

sneezecakesmum Thu 24-Jan-13 21:07:59

From my experience with DD when she was around 6/7. She was initially taught look and say(whole word recognition). I slowly became aware that her teacher was not progressing her reading into phonics because look and say has obvious limitations. It was clear that an otherwise bright child was not reading well so I got a book from the library on phonics and we completed the book with her able to decipher words like parliament!

I thought we had cracked it especially as there was a lot of rumblings from other parents with struggling readers in that class only.

But....I would sit a let DD read to me and it was clear she was still selecting whole word reading and when she came to an unfamiliar word she would put in a similar looking word despite making nonsense of the context. I would say, no go back and work out the word...DD would and always got it right, but this happened over and over again until no sense could be made of the story and she and I were both upset sad

My conclusion to all this is the brain will accept phonics at a certain time (around 6) and after that if its not taught the brain gets stuck in a rut and struggles. I moved schools soon after and DD had to go into a remedial reading class along with most of her former classmates angry

I kick myself for not seeing what was happening and intervening sooner but I am not a teacher so trusted an incompetent one. DD eventually caught up but didn't have the love of books DS had as a child. So that's the lesson I learned!

teacherwith2kids Thu 24-Jan-13 21:08:49

If you GENUINELY only used whole words to read, then you would have no way to choose whether to start 'pygalgia' with a 'p' sound or a 'm' sound, as you do not have a whole word reference for the word IYSWIM.

sneezecakesmum Thu 24-Jan-13 21:10:34

Forgot to say dd did go to uni in the end but our experience should never hav happened.

bruffin Thu 24-Jan-13 21:44:25

[[ Interesting article on brain scans and reading]]

bruffin Thu 24-Jan-13 21:46:05
Tgger Thu 24-Jan-13 22:02:12

Thanks bruffin

learnandsay Thu 24-Jan-13 22:26:04

I don't really understand the confusion. If you've been taught to spell of course you know that all words that begin with b begin with b. You don't need sounds in order to remember facts any more than you need to remember your times tables by breaking them down into phonemes.

inthewildernessbuild Thu 24-Jan-13 22:34:35

Do you think that poetry and/ or nursery rhymes irons out a lot of phonic confusion in children? By hearing it and then seeing it on the page I suspect a of us were taught phonics by default.

Ditto having stories read to us. You go back and look at the page as a child, and you remember what the sentence sounded like, what the individual words sounded like, and then you begin to use phonic strategies without being formally taught anything. If you hear Red Riding Hood and Wolf enough, it is not a great leap to start understanding the principles by which words are constructed. But no-one has to actually TELL you that the ol sound is the same as the ool in the wool or ull in full. You pick it up, like you pick up how to speak English.

I have issues with the idea that you need to formally explain how to speak English to a twoyear old, anymore than you need to formlly need to explain how to read to five year old. You present them with the relevant resources books or spoken language that^ help^ their phonological awareness and hey presto they learn to read,in the majority of cases. And they can go on decoding forever, with that under their belts. Why throw out the most important aspect of classroom teaching - the pleasure of Language as she is spoken, in favour of an arid diet of synthetic phonics?

learnandsay Thu 24-Jan-13 22:39:15

Teaching speech to children is a gradual thing. You correct your children all the time. They get tenses wrong. They get possessives wrong and so on. But after enough correction they get the hang of it. You can hear people speaking who have clearly not been corrected enough and still do not speak English correctly.

learnandsay Thu 24-Jan-13 22:43:47

There is also a grammatical form of English which grew up at around the time that Dr Johnson wrote his dictionary. At about that time grammarians began to sell popular works which explained to people how English should be spoken and popular forms of speech began to be frowned upon if "one was from the right set."

inthewildernessbuild Thu 24-Jan-13 22:44:44

I have a 10 year old who cannot spell for toffee. Yet he can read a page of text he hasn't seen before or heard before with no difficulty. His reading ageis 10. His spelling age is 7. He can decode, if you like, in a contextual setting. But the other way round is another matter. Presumably it is because he doesn't read enough to himself and therefore isn't familiar (when he initiates text, writes) with how everyday words appear on the page, or he is a lazy child who never bothered to learn those spelling lists. Both really. Familiarity with the printed page in its more pleasurable form is what teaches you to spell. Familiarity with the sounds of words when they are read to you (his preferred way is to listen to us read) is what teaches you,ultimately,to be successful decoder.

It is a bit like the way it is much easier to read/decode French than to make it up from scratch.

inthewildernessbuild Thu 24-Jan-13 22:48:22

I don't think we correct children in their speech. We model it, and they hear it. The best form of modelling is when you repeat back to a child in a responsive way, conversational way,the correct form. You don't go round correcting as such. You re-inforce positively, good grammar. If you want to wink

learnandsay Thu 24-Jan-13 22:49:57

I'm not sure how you do it. But I correct my children all the time. I'm not sure if it matters if ultimately they learn to speak properly.

teacherwith2kids Thu 24-Jan-13 22:55:11

But L&S, spelling (as you call it) teaches you how the sound 'b' is written down - I would call that phonics, but we are splitting hairs here.

Then when you see a new word starting with b that you have never seen before, you apply that knowledge of sound - phonics- to read the sound that it encodes <b>.

If you GENUINELY only read full words - as an Egyptian reading heiroglyphs read pictures - then you would not be able to apply information from one word containing b to another, as you say that you only recognise and read any word as a whole.

In fact, you use what you call 'spelling', and I call 'phonics' to break the word down to read it, using the 'spelling' / 'phonics' rules you know. Ergo, you use phonics to read - maybe only for truly unfamiliar words, but you still use it.

Missbopeep Thu 24-Jan-13 22:57:12

ITWB "I have a 10 year old who cannot spell for toffee. Yet he can read a page of text he hasn't seen before or heard before with no difficulty. His reading ageis 10. His spelling age is 7. He can decode, if you like, in a contextual setting."

Reading and spelling are 2 completely different neurological processes.
In reading we look at words and decode. In spelling we retrieve words and the letters that are needed to make them from our long term memory. If they are not in that memory, or we can't manage the phonics ( for completely regular words) we can't manage the spelling.

Many children who are dyslexic can manage to read quite well - at their chronological age- but are behind in spelling.

If your son is 3 years behind in spelling, then that should raise alarm bells- any history of dyslexia in family etc? Have you thought of having him assessed?

inthewildernessbuild Thu 24-Jan-13 23:04:12

slightly off piste here...yes, have had him assessed, but if he has dyslexia it is very mild,[recommended] dyslexia tutor said. We are trying to find him a literacy tutor through local Dyslexia charity, just to help with literacy and handwriting as it is his ASD traits that need the 1:1. It is not in the family, the ASD is!

learnandsay Thu 24-Jan-13 23:05:08

Well, teacher, at the level where everything in an alphabetical language must have some element of phonics about it whether you like it or not, I like you am not sure. I don't know where the limits of whole words and phonics lie. (Well, actually I do. But that's another story.) Given that letter names don't sound anything like their phonics sounds there is an extra level of abstraction involved in what you're suggesting. But, ultimately you're right. Yes. There must be some phonetic correspondence between letters and sounds in an alphabetic script (and in many pictorials ones too.) And, can anyone who is proficient in that language and script be wholly unaware of it, even if their awareness is subliminal, accidental, or fleeting? No, probably not.

inthewildernessbuild Thu 24-Jan-13 23:13:38

I think the other interesting thing about phonics is that Latin is so phonologically consistent compared to English. Yet no-one finds it that easy because we never hear it spoken, except possibly in a Latin mass or concert with latin words.
Could that be why JKRowling used it for her spells?

Maybe if English is a mixture of Norse rune sounds and Romance languages which were based on Latin phonemes which looked like they sounded, that is why it is so inconsistent?

inthewildernessbuild Thu 24-Jan-13 23:15:01

sorry, too many clauses; keyboard sticking...

learnandsay Thu 24-Jan-13 23:45:52

It will depend on which version of Latin modern scholars are arguing about. Latin was a widely spoken language and probably had many variations as many modern languages do today.

English is a poor beast. It has been through so many variations from Celtish, through Latin, Anglo Saxon, (in several successive stages,) through Norman French and Latin, again, and back into English. It's not all that surprising that we find it hard to relate to it in its written form.

mrz Fri 25-Jan-13 06:34:03

Do we find it hard? Or is this discussion because some of us found it very easy to learn to read and write and expect it to be that easy for our children too ...

Missbopeep Fri 25-Jan-13 08:13:35

It's not hard.

When children are taught they learn that a letter has 2 sounds: its name and its sound.

Eg Mr Tee is the name, tu is the sound. (simplistic explanation)

Very early on they ought to know the differences.

learnandsay Fri 25-Jan-13 08:38:04

The term relate does not mean read. It means understand why one is spelled the way that it is, or psalm, or knee or why we say say and saying but said, or why the word read is both an irregular verb and a past participle and the word jump is not.

learnandsay Fri 25-Jan-13 08:40:09

These things are not commonly understood. That doesn't mean that they can't be found out if anyone is interested enough. But such knowledge is not commonplace.

Missbopeep Fri 25-Jan-13 08:54:27

t means understand why one is spelled the way that it is, or psalm, or knee or why we say say and saying but said, or why the word read is both an irregular verb and a past participle and the word jump is not.

The above is grammar not spelling or reading.

Missbopeep Fri 25-Jan-13 08:55:07

well, the 2nd part of your sentence- not sure what the first part is all about.

learnandsay Fri 25-Jan-13 09:04:34

What don't you understand specifically?

learnandsay Fri 25-Jan-13 09:18:06

In so far as the word read has multiple meanings it relates to both spelling and reading. My grammatical description explains some of the word's meanings.

Missbopeep Fri 25-Jan-13 10:12:26

"In so far as the word read has multiple meanings it relates to both spelling and reading. My grammatical description explains some of the word's meanings."

I don't understand any of the above.

Do you mean the actual word "read" itself, or do you mean any/all words which we ^read".

Are you simply pointing out that some words like "read" can have the short e sound in the past tnese ) I read the book last night, or "Please read your book now" , long e sound, in the present tense?

It doesn't have multiple meanings- it means the same but is conjugated differently for different tenses.

learnandsay Fri 25-Jan-13 10:26:24

Yes it means different things in different tenses. This sentence has at least two meanings:

Is this read?

inthewildernessbuild Fri 25-Jan-13 10:40:44

What does Is this read mean second time around? confused

Ooh I do love this thread...

inthewildernessbuild Fri 25-Jan-13 10:41:12

I mean there is read already, but what else is there?

learnandsay Fri 25-Jan-13 10:45:15

(1) read already
(2) does it mean or say read?

inthewildernessbuild Fri 25-Jan-13 11:06:33

I may be picky but I would have thought "read" in second sense needed to be putin quotation marks, as it is being used in a collapsed sentence. The read is an imperative, so it needs a questionmark or somethng to indicate it is emphatic surely? Not a very common sentence hmm to be flexing our muscles on.

learnandsay Fri 25-Jan-13 11:10:46

In the second context it stands alone as a complete sentence. But it can also be written in a longer fashion in order to remove the ambiguity. However, doing that is not necessary.

Missbopeep Fri 25-Jan-13 11:32:14

Sorry but I think you are confused and confusing everyone else as well.

There is only one meaning ( definition) of the verb "to read".

It has differing pronunciations depending on the tense within the sentence.

I read ( present) ea with a long e sound
I am going to read
I read ( yesterday)- ea with a short e sound
I am reading

There is no change in meaning of the verb at all. But what comes before and afterwards in the sentence gives you the context clue to the tense and therefore if it has a long or short e sound.

learnandsay Fri 25-Jan-13 11:38:41

I'm not talking about the verb to read. I'm talking about the word read.

learnandsay Fri 25-Jan-13 11:40:48

Of course if you want to have a discussion about a totally different subject you will reach different conclusions!

inthewildernessbuild Fri 25-Jan-13 11:46:05

Of course it "means" something different even if the definition of the word remains the same through the tenses. Which explains why words often morphed into things with different meanings despite same etymological origin, like "plane" (think woodwork,aeroplane and geometry as variants with same spelling.They mean different things though)

Is it read? Is that what you are trying to tell me to do? For me that would be the only way I could possibly work out what the pronounciation and correct meaning (ie: tense) of that sentence is. Compared to. Is it read? I told you to finish that chapter. Confident readers , proficient readers, scan the sentences, always anticipating the next sentence in order to read the present sentence correctly. It is like playing music, you don't play it note by note.

inthewildernessbuild Fri 25-Jan-13 11:47:29

In effect I agree with you both thanks

Missbopeep Fri 25-Jan-13 11:49:04

I'm not talking about the verb to read. I'm talking about the word read.
Eh? confused

Every word in English is either a verb, noun, adverb, adjective, pronoun, participle, etc etc.

You cannot discuss words and meaning without acknowledging what they are.

"Read" is a word. But it is derived from the verb " to read".

If you want to use it on its own as a command: "Ok class, on your marks, get set. READ!" Then it's still a verb but used in the imperative tense.

Missbopeep Fri 25-Jan-13 11:51:47

The ONLY other meaning which can be attributed is in a case such as "Okay, let's take that as read" - Meaning understood or accepted without too much discussion.

Missbopeep Fri 25-Jan-13 11:55:32

Of course it "means" something different even if the definition of the word remains the same through the tenses. Which explains why words often morphed into things

It doesn't mean anything differently. It still retains its meaning- what changes is the pronunciation according to the tense and context.

Read whether it's past, present, future, conditional, tense etc etc still means look at something written down and understand it.

I give up now, it's not that hard. really.

inthewildernessbuild Fri 25-Jan-13 12:15:15

okay the identity of the word, of that runic symbol, that ancient blueprint,that doesn't change, but of course the meaning of the sentence changes. And surely that is what we are discussing. Finding meaning in an assorted collection of words so that a child can make sense of them in the correct fashion. And to do that is only possible with context added. Or punctuation. Or an ability to be flexible, not hidebound by rules.

inthewildernessbuild Fri 25-Jan-13 12:16:14

As in "chill"

inthewildernessbuild Fri 25-Jan-13 12:19:43

So you have already identified that even "read" has more than one "implication". Spock Do You Read Me? - meaning can you track me in hyperspace not find me on printed page, Is that ready is another tense variant of the verb to read, meaning it is understood, fixed,but we don't associate it with literacy do we?

learnandsay Fri 25-Jan-13 12:20:44

No it doesn't. One means to look at and understand writing and the other means to have looked at and understood. Those meanings are not the same. If you can't understand that then there's no point in your having this discussion. Perhaps you should do a bit of work on understanding what the word meaning means.

inthewildernessbuild Fri 25-Jan-13 12:28:14

Going back to original OP and her worries about "tethered" being misread as "teacher". Once you have an acquaintance with all the words ending with er and or, like feather, shoulder, doctor, motor, bulldozer, and presumably you would hear these words if someone spoke them and then draw conclusions seeing them on the page - you would the begin to distinguish "in context" the difference between the noun which ends in er/or, and some passive uses which end in ed. No-one has to make a RULE. But you have to start with I am tethered to a gate or why would any child know what tether mean in the first place?

Haberdashery Fri 25-Jan-13 12:28:22

The meanings ARE the same, it is the tense that is different. Is English not your first language? Serious question, I am not trying to be snippy.

Missbopeep Fri 25-Jan-13 12:29:01

Oh Jeez- you are talking about bloody tenses woman. Can't you understand that?

I'm off . This is pointless.

Missbopeep Fri 25-Jan-13 12:30:07

Thanks Haber- my post above was aimed at learn.

Why someone does not understand tenses is beyond me.

Haberdashery Fri 25-Jan-13 12:31:26

Haha, yes, I realised you weren't talking to me!

learnandsay Fri 25-Jan-13 12:34:45

I'm not denying that the tenses are different. What I'm saying is that to look at and to understand is not the same as to have looked at and to have understood. If your homework was to read a passage and you were reading it in class for the first time and you tried to explain to the teacher that having read it and to read it meant the same thing I think you'd have a difficult time with the headmistress.

The fact that the tenses are different does not mean that the meanings are the same. They aren't.

Haberdashery Fri 25-Jan-13 12:40:43

The essential meaning of what it is to read something is identical. The tense modifies that meaning to fix it in time (present, past, future) and can also give a sense of whether the act is ongoing or momentary or whatever.

And I would really like to know if you are not a native English speaker if you don't mind saying. Other possibilities occur to me that would explain why you find this hard to grasp, but it's probably best I don't go there.

learnandsay Fri 25-Jan-13 12:42:41

I'm not talking about the essential meaning. I'm talking about the specific meaning and so would the headmistress be.

inthewildernessbuild Fri 25-Jan-13 12:45:38

olay naysayers.
Another example of tense changing meaning.

I strike. (as in union)
versus... I am struck. or Stricken. Can mean a variety of stuff but never anything to do with unions. It means something different in a different tense. The passive tense has a different meaning entirely from the union meaning.

whereas you can have Strikes, Strickers, Striking. And those words can be used contextually with many meanings as well as union strikes.

inthewildernessbuild Fri 25-Jan-13 12:46:24

I'm a native English speaker.

inthewildernessbuild Fri 25-Jan-13 12:46:51

or Strikers sorry blush

inthewildernessbuild Fri 25-Jan-13 12:51:34

The sink means something different from the I sink. Surely. Unless you want to say, I, Sink rather like I, Claudius. It once meant the same thing or it started from same root but conjugations are just as mobile as the rest of the English language. Why shouldn't they be? It is a free country. It would be most unusual to assume that I sink meant I am a sink.

inthewildernessbuild Fri 25-Jan-13 12:52:37

Reading is about specific meaning. Always.

Missbopeep Fri 25-Jan-13 12:53:09


The headmistress would think you were barkingsmile

It's you I am afaid who doesn't understand.

You don't seem to have any understanding of tenses. The meaning of the sentence ( as an entire sentence) is different according to the time the actions took place, but the specific meaning of the verb - as it is and you contested even that- stays the same.

Think of the very "to be"
I am, I was,
She is, he is
they are, we are, they were,

it's the same meaning.

I've been teaching English to A level at times for over 30 years. Please do me the favour of accepting that I might just know a bit more.

Haberdashery Fri 25-Jan-13 12:58:22

I strike is constructed differently from I am struck. One is a passive tense. Furthermore, the past tense of to go on strike is constructed consistently with this (I went on strike). I strike in that sense (rarely used, I think, it sounds wrong to me) is surely just a contraction of the real expression - 'I go on strike'? I strike would be I strike as in I strike the anvil with the hammer and in this case the past tense would be I struck.

The sink is indeed different from I sink. One is a noun and one a verb and as such they have different rules relating to their correct use.

learnandsay Fri 25-Jan-13 12:58:43

In the case of the homework to read and to have read are completely different and mean different things. Maybe you should take up teaching children how to argue their way out of doing homework!

inthewildernessbuild Fri 25-Jan-13 13:13:12

You don't need the blooming Rules! You just need to hear the language or read the language in sufficient quantities for the structures of language to sink in.
I know sink is a noun and a verb. Just like jump is or fight. But they come from the same word - the noun is a familiar stage in the English language where a verb become an abstract entity which in turn becomes a seemingly (although still abstract) concrete noun - a thing which is in the process of doing (sinking, jumping,fighting) and gets turned into a thing by common consent. Like a prayer or a drink or a sleep. They are all real tangible seemingly concrete things, but they are in effect abstractions of a verb.

Shall I just flee off to Pedants' Corner nw grin farewell...

inthewildernessbuild Fri 25-Jan-13 13:18:13

and anyway I've heard plenty of spokesmen saying We are striking for x and y reasons, rather than the usuage you are claiming is prevalent. Strike is used in lots of ways but some tenses are only relevant to other forms of the meaning. A passive conjugation is still a conjugation, if you are saying that meaning stays the same whatever the conjugation.

Tgger Fri 25-Jan-13 14:17:06

"In the case of the homework to read and to have read are completely different and mean different things. Maybe you should take up teaching children how to argue their way out of doing homework! "

How are they different meanings? Please explain (genuine question) smile. I just see it as a tense difference myself as I think pp do.

"Please read pages 9-11 of this book for homework"

"Have you read pages 9-11?"

Is this the context you think have different meanings???? confused

learnandsay Fri 25-Jan-13 14:21:19

Why you wait till a child has reading homework, let them not do it and then explain to the teacher that read in the present tense means the same as read in the past tense and let the teacher and the angry headmistress point the differences out?

Tgger Fri 25-Jan-13 14:27:07

? of course different tenses "mean" (in that sense of mean) different things, that is what a tense does.

learnandsay Fri 25-Jan-13 14:29:58

I know they mean different things. In the case of the homework they mean completely different things. If anyone thinks that they mean the same thing they can try arguing it out with angry teachers when the homework hasn't been done.

Tgger Fri 25-Jan-13 15:00:58

I am going for a run
I went for a run

I guess am going and went have different meanings too.

Will you cook dinner tonight?
I have cooked dinner tonight

I suppose the difference is that in the other cases the verb has changed spellin/ form. I still don't think you have an argument.

learnandsay Fri 25-Jan-13 15:04:08

I'm sorry, tgger. What are we arguing about now? I am going for a run and I went for a run obviously mean different things.

learnandsay Fri 25-Jan-13 15:06:27

The idea that different tenses have the same meaning was a loony one to begin with.

CecilyP Fri 25-Jan-13 15:12:36

Yes, the entire sentence changes the meaning but the word 'run' remains the same. It is just whether you have run in the past, or will run in the future - it is still the same old run.

learnandsay Fri 25-Jan-13 15:16:18

What are we arguing about now? How much does one have to change a sentence in order to alter its meaning? You may not need to make many changes at all.

Haberdashery Fri 25-Jan-13 15:48:01

Nobody is arguing that different tenses have the same meaning and this has turned into quite a silly argument, but to be fair I should have known that was going to happen. The triumph of hope over experience.

learnandsay Fri 25-Jan-13 15:52:56

Missbo was arguing exactly that earlier on.

learnandsay Fri 25-Jan-13 16:06:43

haberd, you were arguing it too
The meanings ARE the same, it is the tense that is different.

The meanings are different and the tenses are different. And yes, you're right the argument is ridiculous. How anybody could think that changing the tense does not change the meaning is beyond me.

mrz Fri 25-Jan-13 16:33:56

Does it matter if I read a book yesterday and plan read another tomorrow? The verb remains constant but one is past and the other is future

learnandsay Fri 25-Jan-13 16:40:25

It would matter if you read it today when having it finished by today is the homework.

mrz Fri 25-Jan-13 17:09:17

I don't get homework

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