Phonics Test Year 1 Query

(257 Posts)
NigellaEllaElla Fri 14-Jun-13 12:12:55

DS is doing the "Test" next week. I did a few flash card words with him last night and just have a query.

He sounds out the word but if it has a "y" at the end he sounds it as "yu" as in the letter name, not sound. (Not sure yu is best way of explaining it but can't think of alternative) rather than "ee" but then still says the word correctly.

So for "Happy" he might say "H a p p yu - Happy"

Because he is saying "yu" not "ee" when sounding will this count as a fail even though he knows the word correctly?

Bloody stupid test. He's a really good reader for his age, possibly a little too good cause I don't think it will do him any favours in a test like this!

Thanks in advance for your help.

Bunnyjo Fri 14-Jun-13 13:08:45

I'm not a teacher. but my DD is in Yr 1.

I was under the impression that sounding out the phonemes before blending to say the word was optional - i.e. children who can say the word without sounding out would be able to do so and marked correctly (assuming they have said the word correctly).

DD is also a very good reader for her age - currently on white/lime books - and I have no worries about her taking the phonics check and neither does her teacher, who is confident DD will get 40/40.

The phonics check is simply to ascertain if there are any gaps in the phonics knowledge for the child, or phonics teaching if gaps appear to be class wide. A recent study by Oxford University actually found the screening check is accurate in terms of ascertaining a child's ability to decode words. That same report also highlighted that there was no framework in place to assist children who 'failed' the screening check and that would be my only concern. Knowing which children require extra help is only useful if the extra help needed is put in place.

Periwinkle007 Fri 14-Jun-13 13:18:24

as far as I am aware if he states the actual word correctly then thats fine. it is the word being marked. how is he though with a word he doesn't know that ends in a y. so say you wrote out plefilly or something, would he manage to read it?

learnandsay Fri 14-Jun-13 13:48:52

The letter name isn't yu it's wiye. The letter sound is yu

So your child is perfectly correct.

maizieD Fri 14-Jun-13 15:03:11

So for "Happy" he might say "H a p p yu - Happy"

In which case he is not decoding the word; if he were decoding it he would say /h/ /a/ /p/ /ee/ (he should know that 'y' spells an /ee/ sound at the end of a multisyllable word and that the 'pp' spells only one sound, /p/ ).

I would surmise that this is a bit of a difficult one to judge as the decoding of the final 'y' as /yu/ might point to a gap in phonic knowledge even if he said the target word correctly (which he could well know by sight anyway).

As periwinkle says, what would he do with an unfamiliar word ending in 'y' or an 'alien' word?

I'd be interested to know what mrz or feenie thinks about this.

daftdame Fri 14-Jun-13 16:35:42

Nigella I would tell his teacher. Looks like you may have spotted a gap in his knowledge.

Do you know how much work on this rule they have done at school?

He might have been away, or maybe that particular input has not fully sunk in. Whatever has happened the teacher should be able to advise / do some extra consolidation work with him.

mrz Fri 14-Jun-13 16:47:51

The test doesn't require the child to say the sounds just the word so "happy" would be accepted as correct.

mrz Fri 14-Jun-13 16:57:39

The following text provides an example of how you could introduce the check.
• In this activity, I am going to ask you to read some words aloud.
• You may have seen some of the words before and others will be new to you.
• You should try to read each word but don’t worry if you can’t. If it helps you, you may sound out the letters before trying to say the word.
• This practice sheet shows you what the words will look like.
• Have a go at reading out loud these four words which you should have come across before [at, in, beg and sum].
• The words on this side [turn over practice sheet] are not real words. They are names for types of imaginary creatures. You can see a picture of the creature next to each word.
• Can you read out the words on this page for me [ot, vap, osk and ect]?
• Ok, now we are going to start reading out the words in this booklet and I’m going to write down what you say on my sheet.
In this booklet there are four words on each page. I will tell you at the start of each page whether they are real words that you may have seen before or words for imaginary creatures.
• The first page has words for imaginary creatures and you can see their pictures.
• Can you start reading the words to me?

Scoring the check
You should score the check as the child works through each word in order. For each word, you should make a record on the Answer sheet of whether the child said the word correctly or not, considering the following points:
Children may choose to sound out phonemes before blending. If a child sounds out the phonemes but does not blend the word, they must not be prompted to do so. This must be scored as incorrect.
• Children may elongate phonemes as long as they are blended to form the word. However, if children leave gaps between phonemes and do not blend them, this must be scored as incorrect.
• Alternative pronunciations must be considered when deciding whether a response is correct. For real words, inappropriate grapheme-phoneme correspondences must be marked incorrect (for example, reading ‘blow’ to rhyme with ‘cow’ would be incorrect).
However, alternative pronunciations of graphemes will be allowed in pseudo-words.
• A child’s accent should be taken into account when deciding whether a response is acceptable. There should be no bias for or against children with a particular accent.
• Any pronunciation difficulties for a child should be taken into account when deciding whether a response is acceptable (for example, a child who is unable to form the ‘th’ sound and instead usually says ‘fw’ should have this scored as correct).
If a child shows their ability to decode by correcting an incorrect attempt, this should be marked as correct. However, children should not be prompted to ‘have another go’. If a child makes several attempts at a word the final attempt should be scored, even if this is incorrect and a previous attempt had been correct.
• You should not indicate whether a child has decoded a word correctly
or incorrectly during the administration of the check, but you may offer
encouragement or support to ensure the child remains focused on the task.
• Children should be given as long as necessary to respond to a word, although in most cases ten seconds should be sufficient. You should decide when it is appropriate to tell the child to move onto the next word, taking care not to try to move the child on if they are still trying to decode the word.

maverick Fri 14-Jun-13 17:11:47

BTW, the letter 'y' is pronounced /ee/ not 'yu'
St Thomas Aquinas students demonstrate how to pronounce some of the phonemes - check out /y/ and /w/

Enthuse Fri 14-Jun-13 17:27:39

I have not given this test a moments thought. Or, if anything, I am curious to see if my fluent children will score badly as neither learned to read through a phonics system and seem to swallow words whole. If their phon

mrz Fri 14-Jun-13 17:35:31

I've got 2 new starters in my class on Monday just in time for the test [grrr]

AvonCallingBarksdale Fri 14-Jun-13 17:43:00

So is the test next week for all year 1 children? DD is Y1 and fortunately she seems to know nothing about it. Presumably there's stuff online I can look at to see what it is she's actually going to be tsted on. DS is Y4 and I have no recollection of him doing it - is it a new test?

mrz Fri 14-Jun-13 17:43:45

Last year was the first national test

maizieD Fri 14-Jun-13 17:50:30

BTW, the letter 'y' is pronounced /ee/ not 'yu'

I think that this is a bit esoteric for practical purposes, maverick. The phoneme at the start of the word 'yes' may very minimally have an 'ee'ish sound but for most people it is /yu/! (with minmal /uh/ I hope)

maizieD Fri 14-Jun-13 17:53:03

So, what would you do, mrz, if a child gave you the consonant phoneme for 'y' at the end of a nonsense word in the test?

mrz Fri 14-Jun-13 17:53:32

I would mark it incorrect

maizieD Fri 14-Jun-13 17:55:15


mrz Fri 14-Jun-13 17:59:16

I would accept /ee/ or /ie/

pickledsiblings Fri 14-Jun-13 18:06:24

but mrz, I thought that any alternative phonemes would be marked correct, I'm sure I've read this

mrz Fri 14-Jun-13 18:11:43

but the sound /y uh / is never found on the end of a words so isn't an acceptable alternative.

pickledsiblings Fri 14-Jun-13 18:14:45

yes but can you really expect a 6 year old to know that?

pickledsiblings Fri 14-Jun-13 18:15:39

...especially with 'made up' words

daftdame Fri 14-Jun-13 18:16:21

I think it depends what has been covered at school pickled.

mrz Fri 14-Jun-13 18:17:02

Yes I would expect a 6 year old to know that with any category of word.

Pozzled Fri 14-Jun-13 18:18:22

Of course we expect 6 year olds to know that- if they've been taught phonics effectively. My 4 year old could say 'yumpy' or 'flishly' etc with the correct 'ee' ending.

mrz Fri 14-Jun-13 18:18:43

and it should have been taught in reception

pickledsiblings Fri 14-Jun-13 18:26:00

I was thinking of a short made up word like 'rey' as possibly presenting a problem??

learnandsay Fri 14-Jun-13 18:27:07

Day has y as yu
as does holiday which is a multisyllabic word. It may once, in the distant past, have been a compound word, but not any longer.

mrz Fri 14-Jun-13 18:28:32

"rey" could be pronounced "ray" or "ree" but not with a consonant /yuh/ sound

Pozzled Fri 14-Jun-13 18:28:35

'Rey' would be harder, certainly, but could be pronounced to rhyme with either 'key' or 'they'. Either would be scored correctly I think. It couldn't be r-e-yuh though.

mrz Fri 14-Jun-13 18:29:26

no it doesn't learnandsay it has two sounds /d/ & /ai/

Pozzled Fri 14-Jun-13 18:30:28

Learnandsay You say 'day' with a 'yuh' sound? I don't think I have ever heard that pronunciation.

daftdame Fri 14-Jun-13 18:31:21

learndandsay How do you say day? (I'm imagining dayoo? ^) grin

I like Chaucer's spellings which spell enough 'ynogh'.

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 18:47:48

They would be unlikely to choose anything as ambiguous as 'rey' - the previous alien words in both the sample and last year's test were more straightforward.

mrz Fri 14-Jun-13 19:02:42

I agree it isn't likely that the check will include <ey>

NigellaEllaElla Fri 14-Jun-13 19:52:02

Sorry, for delay, only just caught up.

With regards son, he will read an alien word/unfamiliar word with a y at the end and say "y uh" but pronounce the word ending "ee" So I do believe he has been taught correctly as he knows what sound the letter in that place in the word makes but he recognises the letter as a y.

I did speak to a Teaching Assistant today about it and used this exact example with her and she said it had been something she'd noticed a few times in the last few days with other children too, but that they were pronouncing the word correctly whether a real word or an alien word.

Interestingly his teacher yesterday spent some time with the parents after school just explaining to them what to expect etc and she did say that the more able readers often didn't perform as well in a test of this kind.

Ultimately I actually think the test is a totally ridiculous waste of time (putting it politely) but I want to make sure I am helping him as much as I can not just for the test but for his future reading ability, but the fact remains his reading is really good and he knows what sounds it should make, I just think he's in a bit of a habit.

I'm surprised Mrz that it would be marked incorrect even if he is saying the word right. Seems crazy you can fail yet read the word perfectly?!

Pozzled Fri 14-Jun-13 20:12:19

I think you misunderstand Nigella. If the child says the word perfectly (on their final attempt if they try more than once) then they will be marked as correct.
Wrt the point about 'able readers not performing as well'- that depends on what you regard as an able reader. I think child is not an able reader unless they can have a good go stab at reading words that are unfamiliar to them- such as names.

NigellaEllaElla Fri 14-Jun-13 20:24:55

Hi Pozzled, earlier in the thread I think Mrz stated that she would mark it incorrectly if he said y rather than ee, maybe if he then says the work correctly anyway she would mark it correct after all then.

With regards the "able readers" whilst I agree phonics is a big part of being able to read well, we have a LOT of words in the English language that phonics simply don't work with, there are many parts that slot together to help us to read in my opinion.

My son doesn't phonetically correctly pronounce a y at the end of a word BUT he does know how to read a word with a y at the end, either a real, alien or unfamiliar word.

Suppose we'll see what next week brings, just want to help him all I can but don't really want to start changing how he does things this weekend in case it confuses him!

SizzleSazz Fri 14-Jun-13 20:31:33

I'm not sure why it is a waste if time and you feel the need to help him. It is a test if the teaching not the dc.

Our school never even mention it and the children don't know they are being 'tested', just a fun activity.

SizzleSazz Fri 14-Jun-13 20:32:23

I'm a parent btw, not a teacher.

NigellaEllaElla Fri 14-Jun-13 20:36:48

SizzleSazz I'd put money on the fact it will be out of the window in 5yrs time if not sooner.

Is it not natural to want to help your child?

I'm not sure that our children know they're being tested to be honest, us parents do, but don't think it's discussed as a test to the children, not sure.

Pozzled Fri 14-Jun-13 20:46:00

I'm pretty sure that when mrz said 'I'd mark it incorrect' she meant if a child read something like 'flump-yuh' instead of 'flump-ee' for the nonsense word ''flumpy'.

It is the blended word that is given the mark of correct or incorrect, not the sounding out. A child can 'sound out' incorrectly, read the word (as a whole) correctly and be marked right.

Incidentally, I disagree with you about there being a lot of words in English that 'phonics simply don't work well with'.

SizzleSazz Fri 14-Jun-13 20:48:10

Oh, I do agree with helping your children but the school should (in an ideal world) be leading this. Hopefully the test will highlight that the teaching is not fully meeting the expectations of your son and they need to put extra resource in to help rectify it.

I am not sure that if the teachers have not spotted this knowledge gap yet that the test would solve that, but I guess that's a different issue

NigellaEllaElla Fri 14-Jun-13 21:28:43

Thanks Pozzled that does make sense.

Off the top of my head - though, rough, eight, cough, live (in a house), what, has, was, want, pretty, people, beautiful, Wednesday, eyes, water, friends...... There are hundreds, if not thousands of words, that phonics rules don't apply too.

mrz Fri 14-Jun-13 21:29:54

No NigellaEllaElla Mrz didn't say she would mark it incorrect if the child said the word correctly but she would mark it incorrect if the child pronounced the word with a "yuh"

ipadquietly Fri 14-Jun-13 21:38:27

FWIW Ofsted didn't even mention the phonics check when they visited recently.

Quotes from report (March 2013):
'Standards in reading and mathematics are significantly above the national average...'

'...attainment in Key Stage 1 has risen, particularly in reading...By the end of Key Stage 2, standards reached are significantly above average.'

'...Attainment is strongest in reading...'

'...Pupils from all ability groups enjoy reading...'

Our phonics check results were absolutely dire last year.

NigellaEllaElla Fri 14-Jun-13 21:38:29

Thanks Mrz glad I misunderstood smile

NigellaEllaElla Fri 14-Jun-13 21:50:58

*and I can't believe I put "too" instead of "to" blush

thegreylady Fri 14-Jun-13 22:02:09


gh as in rough
o as in women
ti as in patient

Oh the joys of English smile

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 22:06:13

Complete bollocks though - gh wouldn't be found at the beginning of a word and ti would never be at the end.

Bunnyjo Fri 14-Jun-13 22:06:41

...and she did say that the more able readers often didn't perform as well in a test of this kind.

That is the opposite of what DD's teacher said and I would be very hmm about a teacher saying something like that. Yes, there are pseudo words put in there that are designed to ascertain a child's ability to decode using phonics, but a 5/6yr old is going to encounter unknown words every day and, if they are an able reader, they will be able to read them despite not knowing what they mean.

thegreylady Fri 14-Jun-13 22:13:26

of course Feenie-it's just a bit of fun and an apocryphal thing which many teachers smile at in the early stages of learning to teach reading smile

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 22:15:52

It makes roll my eyes, I'm afraid!

mrz Fri 14-Jun-13 22:16:40

I would imagine what your son is doing is that he is sounding out the word and says "yuh" because that was the first way he was taught but realises that doesn't sound right so automatically corrects to the /ee/ (without saying all the sounds again)

Nigella English is a complex language but is phonetic and all those words work perfectly well with phonics.
There are 26 letters in the alphabet but -

There are 44(ish) sounds in English (varies slightly according to accent)
There are 175 common ways to spell those sounds

A sound can be written using one, two, three or four letters

A sound can be represented by more than one spelling - the sound /ai/ has 9 spellings <ai> rain, <ay> day, <ea> break, <a-e> came, <a> apron, <eigh> eight, <aigh> straight, <ae> sundae <ei> veil.

one spelling can represent different sounds
<ea> /ai/ steak /ee/ meat /e/ bread

<ough> /oa/ in though
<ou> /oo/ in rough & soup /o/ in cough
<gh> /f/ rough & cough
<ve> /v/ in live & have
<wh> /w/ in what which
<a> /o/ in what, was, watch, want,wasp
<e> /i/ in English and pretty (unusual spelling)
<y> /i/ in pretty and mystery
<eo> /ee/ in people
<ea> /ee/ as beautiful, meat, leaf
<u> /yoo/ beautiful, unit, unicorn
<i> /ee/ beautiful, ski, casino
<a> /or/ water, walk
<ie> /e/ friend

NigellaEllaElla Fri 14-Jun-13 22:28:25

My point really Mrz is that we don't learn all those words phonetically but more by memory and the context of the sentence they are in. Hence me saying there is more to reading than learning basic phonetic rules. Lets remember that these are children of 5/6/7 that are being tested, not English Language graduates.

learnandsay Fri 14-Jun-13 22:30:20

Er, well, that's the order of the letters now that ghoti is in our language. Language isn't static. And our spelling leaves the door open to such new things. So it's not as much bollocks as some would like it to be; it's just a bit fishy.

learnandsay Fri 14-Jun-13 22:49:46

You don't have to emphasise the uh part of yu(h)

You don't have to say

It's just yu as in the fist part of yes. You don't say yuh-es.

Say hooray, today's Mayday's grey play.

Bunnyjo Fri 14-Jun-13 23:05:25

The phoneme is not Yuh L&S; it's a consonant /y/ phoneme (short sound, not elongated with the 'uh' at the end) in yes, yesterday, yellow. I believe the /y/ phoneme is in words like in onion and bunion.

In day, may, play it's the long vowel sound /&#257;/ phoneme. The same phoneme is in bacon, made, laid, vein.

In happy and baby, it's the long vowel sound /&#275;/ sound. The same phoneme is in me, bee, beat etc.

Bunnyjo Fri 14-Jun-13 23:07:58

long vowel sound /a/ and long vowel sound /e/. I forgot MN won't let you put a macron over the letter!

learnandsay Fri 14-Jun-13 23:15:02

Precisely. I'm making the point in response to someone who said that to use the yu as in yellow in day, you would have to say day-uh, which is of course nonsense.

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 23:17:11

Oh dear...

learnandsay Fri 14-Jun-13 23:18:08

Oh dah...

Feenie Fri 14-Jun-13 23:20:57


learnandsay Fri 14-Jun-13 23:25:21

wink shock hmm confused

[ o o ]

Bunnyjo Fri 14-Jun-13 23:28:15

I think the problem is people tend to confuse graphemes and phonemes. I think it was mrz who said there were 44ish phonemes, but 175 common ways to spell those phonemes.

The y in day is a completely different phoneme to the y in yes, and completely different to the phoneme in happy.

L&S you said that it is a yu, but I don't say /y/ in hooray, may, play etc - there is no /y/ sound there at all...

learnandsay Fri 14-Jun-13 23:35:41

I haven't seen a significant difference in the y in day and the one in yellow. Saying a difference exists isn't saying that any such (supposed) difference matters.

learnandsay Fri 14-Jun-13 23:38:06

the pronunciation of the phoneme ai includes the y sound within it.

ai would be spelled aye

That's part of the reason why phonics is bollocks.

IsabelleRinging Fri 14-Jun-13 23:38:30

learnandsay ????? There is no sound for the letter y in day???? The y is behaving as a vowel with the letter a to make a new sound which is ai. It could have been spelt dai if it were not for the convention of the i being replaced with the y at the end of of a word.

Bunnyjo Fri 14-Jun-13 23:39:39

Really?! You pronounce the 'y' in day or happy the same as the 'y' in yellow? Unless you have a very broad regional accent (that I haven't come across), I doubt that very much...

IsabelleRinging Fri 14-Jun-13 23:40:18

Sorry, crossposts, took too long to post!

Bunnyjo Fri 14-Jun-13 23:40:33

Thank God for sense IsabelleRinging

learnandsay Fri 14-Jun-13 23:41:17

No, for the reason stated above your post.

learnandsay Fri 14-Jun-13 23:42:39

I didn't mention happy. Happy ends in an ee sound.

You don't say day-ee (or at least I don't.)

Bunnyjo Fri 14-Jun-13 23:48:26

L&S, I honestly think you confuse yourself.

I haven't seen a significant difference in the y in day and the one in yellow. Saying a difference exists isn't saying that any such (supposed) difference matters.

So what were you trying to say?

I will repeat part of a previous post, in the hope it gets through...

In day, may, play it's the long vowel sound /a/ phoneme. The same phoneme is in bacon, made, laid, vein.

In happy and baby, it's the long vowel sound /a/ sound. The same phoneme is in me, bee, beat etc.

The reason I included happy in my post(s) is because the OP used that as a specific example!

Bunnyjo Fri 14-Jun-13 23:49:17

long vowel /e/ sound in happy and baby. Bloody phone will be the death of me!

IsabelleRinging Sat 15-Jun-13 00:04:12

learnandsay, it sounds like you would benefit from some of the Year One phonics lessons grin. When y is at the end of the word try imagining it is a just a letter i as that is how it behaves in most words. So when next to a consonant it makes an 'ee' or short 'i' sound (depending on your regional accent) or an 'I' sound.

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 06:24:45

So when you say the word day it has the same sound at the end as at the beginning of yes, young, yellow and the same sound as in the middle and end of of mystery learnandsay?

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 06:38:25

"My point really Mrz is that we don't learn all those words phonetically but more by memory and the context of the sentence they are in."

Then your point would be incorrect NigellaEllaElla ...there are 250000 plus words in the English language, an impossible task for any memory and context might give us an approximation if the word was in our spoken vocabulary, which it may not be if you are just 4 or 5 years old or the text is a technical or academic piece.

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 06:50:07

the pronunciation of the phoneme ai includes the y sound within it.

no it doesn't

ai would be spelled aye

no it wouldn't because clearly it is spelt <ai> as in rain, train, Spain

the word "aye" doesn't have the same sound as the word yellow and is in fact pronounced /ie/

learnandsay Sat 15-Jun-13 07:14:12

aye, affirmative in the house of commons, appears suddenly 1575, origins unknown. This is an anomaly.

aye, adverb, Middle English ai, ei --different ways of spelling the same sound. (Part of the reason why phonics is bollocks.) It's fine as a method of teaching children to read. But building a theory about why our language sounds the way it does is lunacy. In some words, like aye, used in the House of Commons, we have no idea why it is the way it is.

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 07:18:32

learnandsay you appear to have a huge confusion about spellings and sounds

aye as an adverb is pronounced /ie/

learnandsay Sat 15-Jun-13 07:43:38

Oh, well, that's alright then. And I presume ooh is pronounced basket.

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 08:05:49

It could well be in learnandsay world, you do seem to have your own unique slant on language. hmm

learnandsay Sat 15-Jun-13 09:47:03

Lots of English words are not written as they sound, Wymondham and St John being good examples. English is great for that. So, if ooh was pronounced basket, it would be in good company.

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 09:58:30

Only in learnandsay world I'm afraid

learnandsay Sat 15-Jun-13 10:00:37

That many English words aren't spelled in the way that they're pronounced is a fact.

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 10:05:34

Well you seem to have your own take on pronunciation is you say "yuh" at the end of the word day

learnandsay Sat 15-Jun-13 10:09:19

Somebody else said that. I've said the opposite.

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 10:10:15

learnandsay I think I know what you are saying (sort of) with 'y'. If you put a glottal stop at the end of day you would get a 'y' sound as in 'yellow' (your mouth would be in the right position for this). However we don't usually do this (unless we are singing club singer stylee grin).

Regarding how our language has changed I think Chaucer's 'ynogh' (and the name Yvonne) is interesting /ee/ and /yuh/ represented by 'y' obviously belong to the same family of sounds.

However I actually think phonics is the best way to start re. reading. I can't see of another way you could learn to decode unknown words as successfully or spell unknown words, write a representation of dialect for example.

I do think there are other skills we use in reading, like sight recognition (hence looking twice at FCUK), however it is debatable whether these skills have to be taught.

Biscuitsneeded Sat 15-Jun-13 10:10:34

My Ds2 is doing this test on Monday. I haven't given it a second's thought. He'll either pass it or he won't, and I really won't worry if he doesn't, because I know that he has moved on from decoding phonically and reads words through recognition now. And his reading is totally fine. Being a bright boy, who questions things, he may well be totally bamboozled by the made-up words, unless he buys into the alien name fantasy. Phonics is only ONE way of learning to read, and it's daft to give it this importance. It's a crock of * and will be out of the window as soon as there's a change of government.

learnandsay Sat 15-Jun-13 10:15:19

No, daft, the fact that the y sound is not stressed does not mean that it's not present.

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 10:16:10

The alien name fantasy as you put it seems to be getting in the way of the real reason made up words are used ... to check if a child has the knowledge to tackle unfamiliar real words when they encounter them for the first time ... unfortunately if your child fails it is likely that they haven't got that knowledge and will struggle when they meet such words.

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 10:18:01

If the sound isn't articulated it isn't present

learnandsay Sat 15-Jun-13 10:20:47

It may or may not be likely that children who fail are bad at phonics. But doubtless there are some children who just get confused by the concept of reading aliens' names. If a mum suspects her child is one of them then it's more probable that that is in fact the problem (given that the mum knows the child) than it is that something else is the problem.

learnandsay Sat 15-Jun-13 10:21:27

It is articulated it's just not stressed.

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 10:23:22

learnandsay I never said it wasn't present...I know it is present but you would have to finish a word with 'y' at the end with a glottal stop to hear it (like the stereotypical club singer does) which people don't usually. (Bet they wouldn't do this in your 1950's dictionary grin)

maizieD Sat 15-Jun-13 10:25:04

^ because I know that he has moved on from decoding phonically and reads words through recognition now.^

And how do you think he 'recognises them'? Remember, there has to be a brain process involved in recognising anything at all, it doesn't happen by magic. Have you even stopped to consider that somehow his brain has to identify the letters in the word, assign a 'sound' to them and produce the whole word? Just because it can do this in milliseconds doesn't mean that it isn't happening.

Biscuitsneeded Sat 15-Jun-13 10:26:55

But mrz, he will only fail when encountering new words IF phonics is the only strategy he has at his disposal, and IF he hasn't got the gumption to use clues like context, and IF his speaking vocabulary is too limited to provide him clues about what that word could be, and IF that word happens to be a word that one even can decode phonically. I could read fluently at age three. I never encountered phonics (too ancient!); I just loved reading. If my son meets a word he can't decipher he can ask a grown-up, and then the next time he sees that word his visual recall will tell him what it is. Now I am well aware that that might not work for all children, and that some may get on better with phonics. I'm not saying all phonics is pointless; but this test assumes that everyone learns the same way, and I'm afraid they don't.

Biscuitsneeded Sat 15-Jun-13 10:28:25

It's a bit like testing whether children know the alphabet by seeing if they can sing it to one particular tune. Maybe they know the alphabet without needing to sing it to a tune!

learnandsay Sat 15-Jun-13 10:31:15

Biscuits, what you're saying is true of any test.

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 10:31:46

Biscuit But if you learn to read concurrently with learning to speak (early readers in my family too) you can not rely upon having a varied enough vocabulary. There will be a lot of unknown words...

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 10:35:16

Incedently I learnt to read before encountering the whole range of synthetic phonics teaching teaching. I was taught a set of rudimentary phonics but I remember sounding out words (also flash cards but I had to sound out unknown words).

Biscuitsneeded Sat 15-Jun-13 10:36:08

I get what you're saying, Maizie, and yes of course there is a brain process going on however a child approaches a word, and yes of course the sounds of the letters are a clue. But if you take my username, Biscuits, a child using phonics will read the word as biskwits. My Ds (who is far from a genius, I might add!), will look at it and know there is a b and a s and a c and a t in it, and an i sound, and will think, hmmmm, where have I seen that word before? Oh yes, on the packet of digestives Mum has in the tin - it must say biscuits. I think there is something inherently flawed in trying to get children to 'read' nonsense words - it is antithetical to good reading strategies! Instead of looking at the sounds and striving for meaning, they have to apply a blanket set of rules to produce non-meaning. It's bonkers.

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 10:36:27

^ sorry incidentally (spelling also atrocious sometimes).

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 10:37:30

Biscuits Some of the best books have nonsense words in them...

Biscuitsneeded Sat 15-Jun-13 10:38:48

Yes, daftdame, of course... but then their pronunciation is a matter of choice!

Biscuitsneeded Sat 15-Jun-13 10:40:17

Oh, and daftdame, one might argue that 'atrocious' spelling (not that I'm saying yours is!!) is one unfortunate side-effect of learning to read using phonics....

learnandsay Sat 15-Jun-13 10:42:25

I can't remember children being given nonsense words in order to learn to read before. My memory of Lewis Carroll is that we were easily able to read before being given his work. Children are used to hearing nonsense words/names but that's not the same as reading them.

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 10:43:12

^Not entirely. How do you say 'Jabberwocky'?

Also when reading Middle English once you realise phonic variations eg 'ynogh' 'yhad' and can read out loud, understanding is much easier.

learnandsay Sat 15-Jun-13 10:44:47

Who is going to be reading Middle English?

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 10:45:57

Biscuits If you are talking about method, the way I was taught at school, would be described as mixed methods.

Bad spelling is probably my own peculiarity, I never could be bothered with it, until it really mattered (eg when I worked for a newspaper, yikes!)

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 10:46:26

Learnandsay Me. Love it.

Biscuitsneeded Sat 15-Jun-13 10:47:56

Exactly, learnandsay. The whole purpose of reading is to derive meaning. If you divorce the meaning from the process it's just folly. And the 'nonsense' words in Lewis Carroll do mean something. If you are told to 'beware the jabberwock' you can infer that the jabberwock is probably an unpleasant and dangerous creature, because you understand 'beware'. However, the word 'igsplurt' by itself, can be PRONOUNCED by using phonics but it cannot be 'read', because 'reading' has to imply 'understanding'. Telling children that it doesn't matter whether or not they understand is DAFT DAFT DAFT!

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 10:48:43

I think a good phonics grounding will also help when learning languages in general. I found spoken Swedish made much more sense than written, then you learn the new phonic rules.

Biscuitsneeded Sat 15-Jun-13 10:51:31

But the same phonics rules do not apply to all languages, even European ones. Take the letter 'j' in Spanish!

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 10:51:56

There are lots of levels of understanding going on in reading. Phonics helps you say the word.

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 10:53:46

Biscuit Spanish 'j' has a phonic rule, it is just different to ours. Once you learnt one set of phonic rules you can learn another set.

learnandsay Sat 15-Jun-13 10:55:40

Well, yes exactly biscuits.

The test method contains an assumption (doubtless correct) that for the majority of children phonics is the best method of learning to read. And hurriedly the government wants to test how phonics is being delivered. And, in their infinite wisdom have decided that a test consisting of 50% made up words is the best way of achieving this. I can't see why they couldn't have chosen esoteric genuine words. The likelihood of very young children knowing most esoteric English words is very small.

But without phonics knowledge how would you even know where to start with 'Jabberwocky'? If it were just a shape on a page (whole word style), you would need someone to tell you how it sounded.

And the same applies for every new word - particularly on MN, where nicknames are often nonsense words which can be pronounced using phonics (e.g. Feenie). Every new written word encountered is a nonsense word.

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 11:00:20

Well our language does consist of letters not pictograms. Makes sense to me to know what sounds those letters represent. When I read I imagine those sounds. If reading an unfamiliar dialect, I actually find it easier so understand when I read aloud. The phonics helps me here because the words as seen are unfamiliar.

learnandsay Sat 15-Jun-13 11:01:54

If the words were written in isolation and scattered around they would not have meaning. But if they're real words in context then often the meaning of a word can be derived from the meaning of the sentence that it's in. It's not always true. But it's often true. Depending on the age of a child she can then look the word up, which is how I was taught.

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 11:02:19

^ should be 'to understand'.

learnandsay Sat 15-Jun-13 11:03:42

== they would not have meaning to an unfamiliar sight reader. (Of course they would literally have a meaning.)

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 11:06:48

learnandsay A shopping list has context, but since it is not written in sentences a unfamiliar ingredient might be difficult to ask for if you didn't have any phonics knowledge.

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 11:09:12

Sentences can also be one word long, eg. 'Wait!'

maizieD Sat 15-Jun-13 12:09:25

My Ds (who is far from a genius, I might add!), will look at it and know there is a b and a s and a c and a t in it, and an i sound, and will think, hmmmm, where have I seen that word before? Oh yes, on the packet of digestives Mum has in the tin - it must say biscuits.

You hope...

Of course, you might have a packet of Digestives like the one in my kitchen which doesn't actually have the word 'biscuit' on it.

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 12:47:42

"But mrz, he will only fail when encountering new words" and he will only fail the phonics test if he can't read new words Biscuitsneeded and isn't better to find out early before it becomes a problem...

Dentvincent Sat 15-Jun-13 12:53:55

I've posted about this previously with my DD. I think one problem with the phonics test and reasonably good readers is that they try and 'read' the word by reading a word that looks similar - I know this suggests their phonic skill is poor - but I think part is comprehension of what the teacher wants them to do. We've spent a week with my DD telling her that it is a phonics test and not a reading test ( really don't think the kids should know it is a test at 5 btw! - not my choice - the schools). Wednesday sent home - after practice test at school - all correct - previously we had been told - 'not progressing well' - all of 2 weeks ago! Only difference is that she now understands what she is doing with the test. I think lots of children use their phonic skills when reading along with context etc. this is a phonics test and is not testing reading a book or comprehension.
Mrz - her practice test came home - just had words - no alien faces - do they have to have aliens next to fake words?

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 13:23:23

The actual check book has pictures of strange creatures next to all the made up words

the teacher will also tell the child when the words aren't real words

I imagine what has come home is either a score sheet or a set of words someone has made the "official" sample materials only contain 4 real and 4 made up words. None of my class have seen the samples or practiced for the check on Monday.

I wonder how schools explain the fact that all the good accurate readers in the school where I teach scored 40/40 in last year's check or all the schools where every child passed the check.

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 13:25:21

Just for the record it isn't a test it is a screening check to identify gaps in phonic knowledge early

maizieD Sat 15-Jun-13 13:25:24

^ We've spent a week with my DD telling her that it is a phonics test and not a reading test ( really don't think the kids should know it is a test at 5 btw! - not my choice - the schools).^

Firstly, big black mark for the school if they have told the children it is a 'test'. Amazing how some schools seem determined to use their pupils' self esteem as a weapon against the Phonics Check. They tell the kids that it is a 'test'; which is a completely unnecessary thing to do and then they bleat about children feeling like failures at age 6. Well, whose fault would that be then?

Secondly; why don't parents tell kids (if they have to say anything at all) that the CHECK (not test) is to find out if they have any gaps in their phonics learning so that they can be given help if they need it.

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 13:32:25

The whole purpose of reading is to derive meaning and if you can't read the words it makes extracting meaning an impossible task

Dentvincent Sat 15-Jun-13 13:45:32

Maizie D - that is exactly what we have told DD - still hard to reconcile with DD telling us 'she failed the test and is rubbish at phonics' (what I came home to at the end of last 1/2term). Felt for a while like I was climbing a mountain to regain self confidence - forget about phonics!!

Mrz - the sheet has 40 words split into 4s - some groups of real others of fake. I would agree I don't think they should be practising the test - but I'm grateful that she seems to have worked out what to do and has enjoyed school the last couple of days.

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 13:49:00

The actual check is a booklet with 4 words per page, one page real the next made up, next real and so on...

maizieD Sat 15-Jun-13 14:13:19

still hard to reconcile with DD telling us 'she failed the test and is rubbish at phonics' (what I came home to at the end of last 1/2term)

It gets worse and worse! So they're giving the children 'practice' tests (because it sure as hell wasn't the 'real' one last 1/2 term) and telling them that they've 'failed' them, are they? If that is so then there is something utterly irresponsible and insensitive going on and I'd want to see the school being held to acount for needlessly stressing your DD (and no doubt others) angry

Dentvincent Sat 15-Jun-13 14:26:49

Apparently the word 'fail' wasn't used directly - but they were told they hadn't 'passed'!! shock
I have been into school ..... I don't think I was the first...... And my DD seems to have coped better with this perceived failure than some of the others.

Feenie Sat 15-Jun-13 14:27:19

That's truly appalling. sad

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 14:51:20

As an aside from phonics, but reading related, my child does comprehension quizzes with each reading book.

They are on the i-pad which is quite fun (likes it) but not allowed book with them, so like a test. Also knows has to receive a certain percentage to pass, and remarked upon and sent down an increment of level if not above 70% as far as I can tell.

At least he's getting used to exams, and is developing 'revision' techniques (mostly involving me quizzing extensively). Will also discuss which books are 'easier' quiz wise and has been known to avoid books which are too 'long' or at the higher end of a level hmm.

Biscuitsneeded Sat 15-Jun-13 15:11:32

Mrz, I'm certainly not saying phonics is pointless. Far from it. All I'm saying is that a. there other strategies that can be employed to read an unfamiliar word and b. an ability to 'read' nonsense words doesn't tell us anything meaningful, nor does it help a child to grasp that the purpose of reading is not to be able to make out loud a series of sounds that the teacher requires you to make, but to infer meaning, enjoy the narrative, in short to comprehend. I have read with kids who are way ahead of my son in their ability to 'read' phonically, but I am not convinced they understood what they were reading. They made the right sounds because they followed the rules. My son may not be reaching those giddy heights in the reading scheme, but I know he enjoys his reading, gets the jokes, anticipates what might happen next, empathises with the characters etc. It is for that reason that I am completely happy with his reading and I won't be alarmed if he doesn't pass the test.

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 15:26:29

Biscuit I everybody would agree there are lots of skills involved in reading and phonics is one of those skills.

I think where the difference of opinion lies is whether phonics is the primary skill for decoding. Myself, I would accept that sight recognition helps, in fluency for example, however I do believe nothing can beat phonics when faced with an unfamiliar word. Added to this, I do not know whether sight recognition needs to be taught.

Contextual understanding, whilst it may help when phonics knowledge is undeveloped, shouldn't be relied upon to the cost of developing greater phonics knowledge. Contextual understanding in my opinion is more useful when used to deepen comprehension.

I feel that just because a child is very proficient at decoding it does not mean their comprehension is inferior just that they are very good at decoding. This is a bit of a stereotype and one to be avoided, in my opinion. They will comprehend at their own level of understanding. A lot of reading schemes assume a certain ration of equivalence between comprehension and decoding, which is where you can get a mismatch. This is when you need a good teacher to think beyond a reading scheme in the selection of reading material.

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 15:27:27

^should be 'I think' 1st sentence.

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 15:30:53

^ration not ration

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 15:31:18

Sorry ratio (auto correct)

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 16:10:12

a. there other strategies that can be employed to read an unfamiliar word
such as?

and b. an ability to 'read' nonsense words doesn't tell us anything meaningful,

actually it tells us a great deal about how well equipped a child is to tackle unknown words that aren't in their spoken vocabulary ...
Last year's check told me that there were children in the Y1 class who weren't secure when real words contained split vowel spellings and that some didn't have a strategy for tackling polysyllabic words, so I could tell their teacher that was where they needed support.

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 16:16:35

As I said before Biscuitsneeded if you can't read the words then you can't start to understand. You seem to have a very strange idea that children who are taught phonics aren't taught comprehension ... strangely enough all my current Y1 class have a comprehension age that is slightly higher than their reading age which is equal to or higher than their chronological age.

Biscuitsneeded Sat 15-Jun-13 16:21:27

This is where we differ, mrz. If they 'tackle unknown words that aren't in their spoken vocabulary' and happen to pronounce them right because of their phonics knowledge, you call that reading. I don't, because they still don't know what that word means, so they are none the wiser. For me, reading is about being able to match the letters on the page with the knowledge and concepts in your head. When I was at school we had a test each year to ascertain our reading age. I remember that every year from age 6 to age 11 the only word I couldn't 'read' was metamorphosis. In the end I adopted a phonics approach (even though phonics didn't exist in my primary school!) and pronounced the word correctly so they gave me the point. But I left that school still not knowing what metamorphosis meant. It was only when I did biology, and then read Kafka, that it made sense to me. Being able to sound out a word in isolation from any narrative is not of much significance to me, I'm afraid.

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 16:24:48

How do words enter your vocabulary Biscuitsneeded? You hear them, you discover the meaning ...
If you left school not knowing what metamorphosis meant a it tells me you didn't study biology to any depth and b you didn't know how to use a dictionary

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 16:27:28

Biscuits If I adopted your philosophy there would be a lot of books I would never attempt to read! I would not have been able to study anything in Middle English or read New Scientist.

Now comprehension can be helped by context, in my opinion. In a sentence you would probably know that metamorphosis was a process of complete change, ie 'The caterpillar after undergoing metamorphosis became a Red Admiral butterfly.'

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 16:30:00

last week one of my 5 year olds decoded the word loitering ... he asked "what does that mean?" word for his vocabulary which he actually used later in the week in his writing.

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 16:32:20

I think context helps with comprehension and to know which pronunciation to use when a word is a homograph

Biscuitsneeded Sat 15-Jun-13 16:34:51

Can you be 'taught' comprehension? Isn't it what happens when you are actually reading? You can be taught techniques for answering comprehension questions, certainly, but surely the act of comprehending is to do with development? Of course I'm not implying that children who use phonics don't comprehend what they are reading - hopefully the two go hand in hand - but you're misreading me! Of course 'if you can't read the words you can't start to understand' - I don't dispute that - but using phonics is not the only way to read! I have no beef with phonics as a system; I just think this is test is spurious and the motives behind its implementation disingenuous. Mr Gove wants to prove that under his direction schools driven up standards in literacy; he has seized upon phonics as a way of measuring that even though he doesn't have any primary teaching expertise himself, and our children are being put through the test for political ends. But if as a teacher you can use the test to identify some children who need practice in a specific area, then that's all well and good I suppose. I just personally won't be setting much store by it!

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 16:37:31

you still haven't said what are these other ways to read ...

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 16:39:47

and Mr Gove isn't measuring phonics so that theory is a non- starter

I suppose if you are afraid your child/pupils won't pass convincing yourself that the check isn't worthwhile helps

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 16:40:26

To a certain extent you can teach comprehension skills.

The vocabulary used for discussing features of narrative and non-fiction books can be taught, with examples, which helps communicate whatt has been understood. For example, a child might notice, subconsciously audibly the effect of alliteration, but when they know this is a feature they can look out for it and think of the effect. Ditto with sub headings. Scanning text can be practised. All this can deepen understanding.

So much can be 'taught'.

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 16:41:18


daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 16:46:14

Biscuit The screening checks 'standards' and effectiveness of teaching between schools. You wouldn't want your child to miss out on being taught part of the curriculum, would you?

I wish it was not necessary, that standards were high and all teaching effective. However apparently this isn't the case. sad

How else would you check?

learnandsay Sat 15-Jun-13 16:49:07

By using real words.

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 16:50:45

learnandsay But what about being able to decode unfamiliar words?

Biscuitsneeded Sat 15-Jun-13 16:54:08

No, if you read me I said I left primary school not knowing what metamorphosis was. I did find out at secondary, you'll be glad to know! Re the loitering incident, you are making the same point as me! The child decoded it (for which, yes, phonics is a useful tool), did not know what it meant so asked the teacher and then that word entered his vocabulary. next time he sees that word he will not need to decode it phonically because he will recognise it and understand it. That is a valid exercise. In this test the child will read a meaningless word, for which no definition will be forthcoming. The learning has not advanced one iota.

Biscuitsneeded Sat 15-Jun-13 16:58:04

Yes daft dame, that's what I mean. Comprehension skills for communicating what has been understood can be taught, but the actual understanding is part and parcel of reading effectively.

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 16:58:19

perhaps learnandsay would prefer we restricted children to words they have learnt by sight

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 16:58:38

Bicuit But if they can decode an unknown word they are more likely to be able to ask what it means or remember it it order to look it up. There are more points of reference.

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 17:01:41

Biscuit But once somebody has pointed a feature out to you, it draws your attention to it and you can reflect upon it more. This builds on understanding by interaction with a teacher (person acting in this role). Otherwise if left to your own devises features may go noticed.

learnandsay Sat 15-Jun-13 17:01:56

I'm not against the current test (or the alien words) I just think it would be more useful if the words were real, since we want children to learn to read real words not made up ones.

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 17:03:49

You are making a huge assumption if you believe that seeing a word once assigns it to our long term memory Biscuitsneeded.

Biscuitsneeded Sat 15-Jun-13 17:04:02

Mrz, there's no need to be personal. I'm not actually worried that my own child will fail the test. I'm just saying that if he did I would not leap to the alarmist conclusion that he cannot read, because as a parent I read with him a lot and I know perfectly well that he can! So if he did fail the test I would conclude that perhaps the teaching of phonics in his class had not been particularly effective, which would be something for the school to address, or that he has not been paying attention in phonics teaching time! I wouldn't take it as an indicator of literacy.

Pozzled Sat 15-Jun-13 17:04:30

Biscuitsneeded the phonics check is used for assessment, so you wouldn't expect 'the learning to advance'.

However, when actually teaching phonics, the learning will be advanced through using nonsense words- because the teacher will be teaching/reinforcing new ways of representing sounds in writing.

Pozzled Sat 15-Jun-13 17:04:45

Biscuitsneeded the phonics check is used for assessment, so you wouldn't expect 'the learning to advance'.

However, when actually teaching phonics, the learning will be advanced through using nonsense words- because the teacher will be teaching/reinforcing new ways of representing sounds in writing.

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 17:05:24

We want children and adults to be able to read any word they meet learnandsay

Pozzled Sat 15-Jun-13 17:07:57

If a child fails the phonics check, I hope that both parents and teacher will take it to mean that they don't have sufficient understanding of phonics to tackle new words confidently.

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 17:25:00

Pozzled I can understand why you say this, however as discussed on a previous thread I do not think the assessment is completely flawless (no assessment is).

I believe it should be used as just one piece of information that informs about a child's decoding ability, in fact in an ideal word it would not be needed as the teacher would already be assessing frequently.

I can see how in schools if a child is not familiar with the testing type scenario, they may not ever even read to the teacher doing the assessment (only TAs hear readers or only guided reading in groups is done in school). This could cause problems...

However I appreciate there are many pulls upon a teacher's time and many ways to manage this.

maizieD Sat 15-Jun-13 18:17:52

^ I just think it would be more useful if the words were real, since we want children to learn to read real words not made up ones.^

[sigh] The check is to verify that children have the phonics knowledge and skills which they should have been taught by this stage in Y1. The knowledge and skills to enable them to read any words which they encounter; which may, or may not, be 'real words' (e.g.nonsense rhymes?)

This obsession with 'real words' for 6y olds is a bit pointless. It's been said often enough before, a child will only 'know' if a word is 'real' if it is in its expressive or receptive vocabulary. Which is by no means complete at age 6. Anyone who lets a child believe that it knows all the real words there are in the language at age 6 is doing the child a big disservice IMO.

learnandsay Sat 15-Jun-13 18:31:21

By the same token the driving lessons could include instructions for piloting the space shuttle. It's not very likely that you will come across the controls of the space shuttle, but if you do you'll know how to use them.

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 18:34:10

"only TAs hear readers" That isn't true in all schools daftdame, it certainly isn't in mine (and we don't do guided reading in any year group).

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 18:36:56

mrz - pleased to hear it. Sadly not my child's experience...

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 18:38:09

^To be fair, I should probably clarify to 'hear readers individually'.

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 18:41:52

I don't have a TA to hear readers (we only have one for the whole school)

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 18:44:50

Interesting, my child's school has more than 20.

I bet organisation is very different.

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 18:45:49

+ volunteers are often 'required'.

Pozzled Sat 15-Jun-13 18:52:41

Learnandsay, you can hardly compare meeting new/unknown words with piloting a space shuttle. We all come across new words frequently- brand names, technical vocab, new technology, pop groups, place names, people's names. If we use phonics there may be two or more alternative pronunciations (but often one is more likely). If you don't think phonics is the first or best approach, what would you suggest?

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 18:54:18

I imagine we are a smaller school

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 18:55:56

Pozzled learnandsay's name may give you a clue wink

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 18:57:51

mrz. Average 2 form entry (less some year groups).

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 19:03:25

Single form entry

Pozzled Sat 15-Jun-13 19:04:27

I know mrz, but as an adult I wonder how she deals with those kind of words.

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 19:13:13

I imagine she knows them all Pozzled

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 19:18:40

Pozzled I think some people do pick up a lot of the phonic rules practically subconsciously. I must have done, I was only 'taught' rudimentary phonics (alphabet book) but the rest was picked up bit by bit, piecemeal as I read books with my mother eg. she would have told me the rule for 'happy' when we came across the word in a story, I also remember 'magic' 'e'!

learnandsay Sat 15-Jun-13 19:19:53

OK, let's use brandnames in the phonics test.

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 19:21:08

learnandsay The brands would be queuing up! grin

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 19:21:29

I imagine children know brand names too

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 19:29:42

some lucky individuals will work out the relationship between those marks on the page and the sounds in words with very little help but it obviously takes much longer than explicit teaching but for the less fortunate who can't work it out alone teaching is more important

learnandsay Sat 15-Jun-13 19:33:53

My daughter is pretty shaky on the names of cleaning products to be honest.

maizieD Sat 15-Jun-13 19:40:39

By the same token the driving lessons could include instructions for piloting the space shuttle. It's not very likely that you will come across the controls of the space shuttle, but if you do you'll know how to use them.

So your 6 year old knows all the English lexicon and doesn't need to worry about unfamiliar words because she knows them all already!

Your analogy is completely ridiculous. Comparing driving a car to driving a space shuttle is like comparing to read English with learning to read French. Your DD will need to be able to work out what written words in her first language (or is she bi-lingual?) 'say'. She won't need to know French phonics unless she actually learns French. Likewise I, and a few million others, don't need to know how to pilot a space shuttle unless we want to be astronauts.

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 19:44:04

I did wonder if L&S had begun teaching her daughter to drive as she used a driving test analogy on the NC level thread too hmm

maizieD Sat 15-Jun-13 19:49:07

Well, it's quite easy, after all, isn't it? (Driving) Don 't you just spend lots of time being driven and just pick it up?

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 19:51:19

mrz I think my mother actually will have given a lot of individual input and attention. I have noticed her sheer 'staying power' when playing or sharing books with her grandchildren.

The 'teaching' may not have seemed explicit because it was very gradual, done bit by bit, several times a day. I knew my initial basic phonic alphabet at 2 yrs. However the teaching was there, I also did not learn to read by magic.

mrz Sat 15-Jun-13 20:02:54

I'm one of those individuals who did learn to read without any adult input as did my son daftdame ...although I don't think it was magic

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 20:24:29

mrz my son too smile. Again not magic, observing his behaviour, determined little guy.

daftdame Sat 15-Jun-13 20:29:38

^ well strictly speaking the adult input was there, but totally child led. He also liked phonic electronic toys and games and my books were continually pulled off the shelf, he had a large collection of his own (chewed, still teething at the time).

mrz Sun 16-Jun-13 06:45:56

I happened to notice him picking up junk mail and newspapers and reading bits out loud when he was around 18 -20 months at the time ... unfortunately he doesn't understand phonics so his spelling is abysmal shock and he didn't really write until Y6. If this check had been around someone might have acknowledged there was a problem and listened to my concerns.

NigellaEllaElla Sun 16-Jun-13 19:16:37

He was reading bits out loud at 18-20 months?!? My youngest is 21 months and I cannot imagine for a minute him grasping the concept of reading a word!

learnandsay Sun 16-Jun-13 19:34:09

Babies can read words if you tell them what the word is.

simpson Sun 16-Jun-13 19:36:52

DD is doing the test this week but it won't be marked/recorded I would imagine as she is only in reception.

I only know this because I volunteer in the school and over heard it blush the teacher has not mentioned it to DD nor me (as I would expect) and she has had zero preparation with flash cards etc...

I taught myself to read at 2.6 apparently and I thought that was young shock

daftdame Sun 16-Jun-13 19:59:03

My son learnt to read concurrently with speaking, I think.

It was difficult to tell what he was doing at the time, he seemed to know things. wink Curiosity led me to investigate further and he could recognize whole words and I knew he could recognise sounds (electronic phonics games). I don't think he was quite as young as 20 mnths but not long after 2.

daftdame Sun 16-Jun-13 19:59:48

^ years that is!

mrz Sun 16-Jun-13 20:15:29

yes Nigellaellaella
No one had told him the words learnandsay that's the point

NigellaEllaElla Sun 16-Jun-13 20:41:21

So you showed him a word and said it, no pics, and then when he saw the word again he knew it?

I am testing this theory out in the morning. Really, really interesting.

daftdame Sun 16-Jun-13 20:45:20

Nigella yes, my DS did.

mrz Sun 16-Jun-13 20:48:02

No I didn't show him a word NigellaEllaElla ... he picked up leaflets that came through the letterbox and he read them out they were junk mail I'm sure there were pictures.

For the record my son is autistic and has a co-morbidity of hyperlexia which I imagine is where his fascination with the Financial Times came from.

daftdame Sun 16-Jun-13 20:55:55

Incidentally I'm just not the sort to do loads of flash cards (not interesting enough). Once was enough for me to think, 'Oh, he can do it,' From then I just encouraged him to join in with stories, read words in the environment, play with plastic letters, make up words that he and I would read.

Hulababy Sun 16-Jun-13 20:59:58

So long as he says the correct word he will get marked correct.

He can blend it as much as he wants, he can say the wrong sounds for letters as much as he wants.

But as long as he says that the word is "happy" then it gets marked correct.

mrz Sun 16-Jun-13 21:06:36

I'm afraid I'm a bad mother ... all I did was read him stories

simpson Sun 16-Jun-13 21:07:42

Quite a few of the yr1s I read with would sound out the word window as

w i n d ow (ow sound as in ouch)

but say window correctly as they are using the more common ow (as in ouch) sound first, find it doesn't fit then going to the next sound that ow makes iyswim.

mrz Sun 16-Jun-13 21:07:49

and fall asleep while he read the Nato defence document to me (no pictures Nigella)

Tiggles Sun 16-Jun-13 21:24:30

I learnt to read before I was two. I know my mother did not explicitly teach me, as she had tried to teach my older brother when he was 2 and had completely put him off reading. By age 4, having had no teaching I could read the encylopedia britanica. Apparently I was a terrible show off and if mum's friends came around I would pull out a Dickens from the bookshelf and read it.
I am fairly certain I must have learnt to read phonetically as even now when I am reading long words quickly e.g. dinosaur names, I know I am decoding a word as I am going through it.

NigellaEllaElla Sun 16-Jun-13 21:25:44


But mrz at that age how could he look at a leaflet and have any comprehension what the words were? I've read to all mine from around a year (proper stories, pic books before that) but I can't see how, if you haven't even read to them, that they could possibly make that association. I'm intrigued, not questioning that you're being honest.

mrz Sun 16-Jun-13 21:30:50
Tiggles Sun 16-Jun-13 21:33:07

smile I think I am/was hyperlexic, I didn't even realise people made eye contact until it became an issue when they were assessing DS1 for autism.

daftdame Sun 16-Jun-13 21:51:05

mrz where on earth did he get hold of the NATO defence document at 20 months? Are you also a spy?

mrz Sun 16-Jun-13 21:57:11

They publish them daftdame freely available on the internet now

mrz Sun 16-Jun-13 21:57:55

and he was at nursery when he was reading the Nato doc so much older

daftdame Sun 16-Jun-13 22:02:11

mrz cool. I may take a look.

mrz Sun 16-Jun-13 22:02:11

He had good comprehension,spoken language and eye contact but poor social skills.

mrz Sun 16-Jun-13 22:06:39
Tincletoes Sun 16-Jun-13 22:15:14

Slight detour off topic but I actually find the concept of alien words v useful for my year 1 son who is reading pretty well. He has a tendency to guess at an unfamiliar word, and it's useful to say "pretend it's an alien word", which makes him stop and sound it out.

I have no time for Michael Gove at all, but actually have no objections to this check at all (and if my son doesn't pass, I am not worried about it reflecting on him, nor on how this will impact his university entrance....)

learnandsay Mon 17-Jun-13 09:28:59

My daughter sometimes guesses wildly at words (depending on how tired she is.) It used to be much worse than it is now, saying things like hospital for the word unlikely. At least now when she does it the word normally has some vague resemblance to what's written on the page.

But I always say, no. That's not right. Read it carefully.

And then she sounds it out and pretty much always gets it right, unless it's one of those words which isn't pronounced the way that it's spelled. Sometimes telling her it's a tricky word in those cases is enough to do the trick and in the rest of the cases I just tell her what it is. That doesn't happen all that often, about once per chapter or so in Mr Fox.

daftdame Mon 17-Jun-13 09:36:28

learnandsay So you agree that your daughter's phonic skills help her? (sound out unknown words). She has improved since receiving phonics teaching.

learnandsay Mon 17-Jun-13 09:58:14

Of course, any instruction has helped her. But she switched to sounding out words of her own accord before she started Reception.

learnandsay Mon 17-Jun-13 10:01:24

Incidentally, my problem with phonics isn't that it's being used to teach children to read. That's great. My problem with it is that some people want to use it as a theory to explain to other adults how our language works and in so doing they skip over or ignore places where it doesn't work. It's a method for teaching children to read and if it's left at that then that's fine.

Elibean Mon 17-Jun-13 11:01:26

mrz dh has that NATO app, and thinks it's supercool grin

daftdame Mon 17-Jun-13 11:05:24

I agree with you in that the phonic rules of our language have changed over time. If you read very old texts you cannot help but notice this.

However this does not mean there are no phonic rules, just that they have not been completely static. The letters / combinations of letters do represent sounds (we do not have pictograms in the English language). There is much less variance now that we have standardised spelling, although there is variance.

When learning to read and write I think you have to start somewhere, just because there are exceptions does not mean a general rule is not useful.

So here is where we question phonics should be the primary method of teaching to read.

Other skills which people can use are sight recognition and context. However when these skills are relied upon with exclusion of phonics, problems can arise (decoding unknown words in isolation, being able to begin to write an unknown words etc). Added to this sight recognition may not have to be taught, may occur naturally. Using context for decoding unknown word is also unreliable (without any or very limited phonic skills).

Do people build on phonic knowledge naturally, without being explicitly taught synthetic phonics? I would say very definitely people can do this, as you can see up-thread it has happened in my family. I don't know how common my experiences are though. The reason my mother was keen to teach me to read was because she can remember not being able to read at 7yrs old...her sister eventually helped her when she admitted this to her.

pickledsiblings Mon 17-Jun-13 11:43:04

How come we don't need a scientific approach to learn how to speak?

Whilst teaching analytic phonics does seem to 'work' it must be remembered that it is a 'tool' or approach rather than the definitive description of our language - I know people don't really think this but I'll try to explain what I mean by giving an example.

My DS (6) asked this morning, 'mummy, why does 'ay' have to say /a/? It made me think that there is too much emphasis on phonemes/graphemes and not enough on whole words. In fact, at one point, DS was writing with finger spaces between graphemes. I told him that the words and how we say them came first and that learning 'phonics' is a way of trying to find patterns in words and sounds to help us read and write them.

People didn't make words by consciously combining phonemes/graphemes - language isn't synthetic in that way and we need to make sure that our DC know that.

daftdame Mon 17-Jun-13 12:20:44

pickled Interesting, I think in Hebrew letters do have individual meaning as well as the words...I don't know enough about this and you have set me thinking....

pickledsiblings Mon 17-Jun-13 12:28:26

daftdame, I don't know very much about it either but I am curious too

mrz Mon 17-Jun-13 16:40:40

People didn't make words by consciously combining phonemes/graphemes

Just the opposite pickled they assigned "symbols" (letters or combinations of letters) to represent the sounds in spoken words. The spoken word came first then the written.

Hulababy Mon 17-Jun-13 18:48:45

First class at my school did this year's screening today. Very positive results so far. 84% pass rate from today's class which included a number of children with learning delays/difficulties.

IsabelleRinging Tue 18-Jun-13 17:53:07

The year ones at our school did really well today, including one boy who finds it tricky and works with me for extra input. Only two children out of the 30 didn't score enough to pass and they were only a few words away from passing so they did well, but school has a very systematic approach to teaching phonics which works well.

mrz Tue 18-Jun-13 17:59:27

How come we don't need a scientific approach to learn how to speak? well some children do - that's the job of speech therapists and speech pathologists but in general speech is a natural process written language is artificial

Hulababy Tue 18-Jun-13 19:14:30

Today's class achieved 80% iirr. 6 didn't reach the required level, but no surprises again today.
Have a third class tomorrow, then about 30 Y2s who did not achieve the required level from last year to do theirs on Thursday.

mintyneb Tue 18-Jun-13 19:43:50

I've no idea how she did but my DD had her assessment today. I had a feeling the teacher was doing them so on the way home from school this afternoon asked if she'd had a good day and done anything interesting? Yes, we did some writing. Did she do any reading with her teacher? No, she was busy doing 'jobs'.

Over dinner dd was chatting about something else to do with school and then said 'I had to do some obb and bob words with my teacher'. And that was it! I asked her a bit more but basically she wasn't bothered by it one way or another.

So, although I don't know how she did I'm pleased the teacher handled it in a lovely low key way.

wigglywoowoo Wed 19-Jun-13 12:14:59

I may be a little confused but do the children have to say the sounds then the word or can they just read it? Also is it possible to pass the phonics check if you can read all the real words but can't sound out the alien ones or only a few of them?

HarumScarum Wed 19-Jun-13 12:49:42

I think they can just read it. They're allowed to sound the word out if it helps them. The only thing that matters is if they read the word in a phonetically plausible way. I think half the words are alien words so no, you couldn't pass it if you could only read the 'real' words.

Pozzled Wed 19-Jun-13 12:54:12

Yes, HarumScarum is correct. Children can just read the word without sounding it out. I think last year the pass mark was 32, so a child would have needed at least 12 alien words correct.

Pozzled Wed 19-Jun-13 12:56:31

Posted too soon... If a child can only sound out a few of the alien words, that would indicate that they had difficulty with phonics, so that's exactly what the check is designed to pick up.

Hersetta Wed 19-Jun-13 15:47:55

My DD did her test yesterday and passed withflying colours. The school did send home a sheet of Alien words for her to read with us over the weekend and as she sounded them all correctly I was hopeful she'd do OK. We were also asked to look ound for diagraphs over the weekend so did some work with her using ou, oi, ar, ea sounds.
Have to admit I am a little pround of her as she is a 31/8 birthday and sruggled for the first half of the year but something clicked about 3 months ago and she has come on really well.

mrz Wed 19-Jun-13 16:47:26

the "pass mark" was 32 this year too

wigglywoowoo Wed 19-Jun-13 21:23:30

Thanks, I did wonder how easy it would be for a sight reader to pass.

learnandsay Wed 19-Jun-13 21:42:41

Give me the test and I'll tell you.

mrz Thu 20-Jun-13 06:49:28

wigglywoowoo it is a phonics screening check - purpose to check if a child can use phonics to decode words they have not previously met. A child who can only read words they have learnt as whole words will struggle to reach the expected level

If you were 6 and a sight reader then if might be a worthwhile experiment but you aren't learnandsay

ClayDavis Thu 20-Jun-13 07:38:22

I've seen many posters on MN say they are visual learners and read by sight not phonics. It might not be worthwhile but I'd be interested to see how many of them 'passed' the screening check. I suspect most of them would have no trouble with the pseudowords.

Hulababy Thu 20-Jun-13 07:42:57

There are many sample screening checks online for anyone wanting to have a go.

learnandsay Thu 20-Jun-13 09:42:20

The YMN phonics screening check.

meditrina Thu 20-Jun-13 09:57:03

"Thanks, I did wonder how easy it would be for a sight reader to pass."

I don't think a sight reader could pass, as none of the novel words would have been seen before, so they cannot have learned them.

HarumScarum Thu 20-Jun-13 10:37:41

>> Thanks, I did wonder how easy it would be for a sight reader to pass.

Surely someone who had been taught by Look and Say but become a good reader (by which I mean able to tackle words they have not seen before adequately) has intuited the rules of phonics themselves anyway? This is me. I would have no trouble with the alien words at all, nor would I have found it hard at six because I was fortunate enough to find it easy to work out what the rules were. If you have been taught by Look and Say but have not become a good reader, as defined above, then of course you would fail. And you would fail because you can't read. Someone who can recognise some words, even quite a lot of them, can't read any more than I can say I speak German if I only know a hundred words in German. Neither level of knowledge is fit for purpose.

learnandsay Thu 20-Jun-13 11:47:23

I think that's precisely the question, although I'm not sure how many mumsnetters are going to admit that they failed the mumsnet phonics screening test. Maybe we should print it out and spring it on people in pubs, parks and doctors' waiting rooms.

mrz Thu 20-Jun-13 19:24:12

"Surely someone who had been taught by Look and Say but become a good reader (by which I mean able to tackle words they have not seen before adequately) has intuited the rules of phonics themselves anyway?"

exactly! or they would have to ask someone every time they encountered a new word then learn it by sight which is clearly not what happens.

IsabelleRinging Thu 20-Jun-13 22:45:18

Exactly mrz, even those of us who were taught in the 70s using Peter and Jane books use phonics. Children often learn things in a 'top down' way and work out the code for themselves. It doesn't mean they are not using phonics. Look and say works for lots of children as a basic introduction to reading, and most will work out the phonetic code themselves. However, teaching phonics first works even better for most. Nobody can read without phonics though.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now