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"So" is a sight word and can't be sounded out...

(313 Posts)
Stampstamp Thu 19-Sep-13 13:11:46

Said the reception class teacher today. Aaargh! Thank heavens DD can already mostly read (she's nearly 5). Why do some teachers and schools have such a limited understanding of phonics, it seems so fundamental to me?

mrz Fri 18-Oct-13 19:25:35

and Dandelion books

"High frequency words are common words, some of which have complex spellings. Beginner readers may have difficulty decoding them. To help with these words point to the graphemes (letters) and say the sounds ..."

mrz Sat 19-Oct-13 11:29:21

zebedeee you might be interested in a new book - Dandelion Book of High-frequency Words (This photocopiable workbook offers a phonics approach to teach reading and spelling of those tricky high-frequency words.)

maizieD Mon 21-Oct-13 17:20:40


OK, one more try.

On the back of dd's JP Yellow Level reader reading book, amongst the blurb it says;

'Light type is used for those few letters that should not be sounded out, such as the (b) in 'lamb'. There are also a few 'tricky' words, in which light type is not used, as children should learn them by sight. The tricky words introduced at the Yellow level are shown at the end of each book'.

Which probably explains why I am still confused about the tricky/sight word issue.

I was so surprised by this that I got in touch with Sue Lloyd. This is what she had to say about the blurb on the reading book:

When the reading books were published in 2001 it did say that the tricky words needed to be learnt by sight. Sara and I were not shown the blurb on the back until they had been published. On the next print run, in 2003, the wording was changed (after we had objected to calling them sight words) to 'As before, light type is used for those few letters that should not be sounded out, such as the <b> in 'Lamb' ( but not in the new tricky words, which should already be familiar without this help).

So it looks as though you have an older edition of the reader. However, it is damaging that there are JP books around that say that. But it is clear that neither Sue nor Sara would endorse that statement.

(I didn't ask her about the video, though, mrz)

mrz Mon 21-Oct-13 18:42:15

Never mind maizie perhaps next time wink it's good to know that Sue & Sara support such statements.

mrz Mon 21-Oct-13 18:45:22

thecatisatwat I would suggest that the reason b isn't sounded out is because mb is an alternative spelling for the sound /m/ but the publishers are trying to make it simple for parents (and some teachers)

maizieD Mon 21-Oct-13 19:24:15


Sue did say that she and Sara do use the term 'silent letters' and she doesn't think it really makes much difference to results. (which is why the 'b' in 'lamb' is noted as not being sounded out)

However, until someone funds some studies which compare different systematic phonics programmes it can't be proved one way or the other.

mrz Mon 21-Oct-13 20:25:05

true ... as you know in Sounds~Write all letters are silent grin

ClayDavis Mon 21-Oct-13 22:17:04

That's interesting, Maizie. I've noticed a couple of extra resources (mainly the video) for JP that have odd inconsistencies compared with what's written in the handbook. The blurb on the back of the early editions of the readers seems to be one of them. I usually work on the assumption that the publishers have sometimes got a bit carried away rather than it being written by the authors of the programme itself.

Icapturethecastle Tue 22-Oct-13 00:19:59

A bit off topic but what is the phonic rule for "island". How do you explain s. I tried to google but could find an answer but am sure the experts on here would know.

maizieD Tue 22-Oct-13 14:44:07

I would just explain it as the 'is' being a rare/unusual spelling of the /igh/ sound. You'll find it in all the words derived from 'island' (isle & islet being fairly common), in 'lisle' (but I don't think anyone wears lisle stockings any more smile ) and the place name Carlisle. those were the only examples I could find.

The thing about these very unusual correspondences is that they are often the easiest to remember because they are so unusual. To remember it for spelling I'd tell my kids to remind themselves that it looks like 'is land'

A few years ago 'Kensuke's Kingdom' was studied at many of our feeder primaries. None of the 'strugglers' I worked with at that time had any problem with reading or spelling 'island'. Which just goes to show how using a word helps to embed it in memorygrin

SoundsWrite Tue 22-Oct-13 20:09:10

Just to add to what maizeD had to say: you might also, Icapturethecastle, want to think of word derivation. The Latin for island is 'insula'; in modern day Italian, it's 'isola'; and, in Spanish, it is 'isla'. In the last two, the <i> represents the sound /ee/ and the <s> /s/.
Then again, the word could come from Old England 'yland' or 'igland', derived from Old German.
The explanations of where more complex spellings of sounds come from are often fascinating for children of a certain age and can motivate learning.
Take your pick! However, things change and, as maizieD argues, today, the <i> and <s> represent the sound /igh/ in English.

maizieD Tue 22-Oct-13 21:37:16

'argues' S~W? hmm

Interesting notes on its derivation. Thanks.

Icapturethecastle Wed 23-Oct-13 02:52:19

Very interesting thank you maizieD and soundswrite

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