On a number of different occasions (here, here, with kind permission from Debbie Hepplewhite, and here) I’ve blogged about the introduction of nonsense words into the government’s ‘Phonics screening check’ and, I hope, have answered some of the objections made by (mostly) the whole language lobby.
Well, the other day I noticed that the eagle-eyed Susan Godsland of Dyslexics.org.uk posted a link to Alison Clarke’s Spelfabet website, on which Alison has wielded her vorpal blade and produced a comprehensive rebuttal of the same kinds of trivial objections.
I won’t précis what she’s written, – you’ll have to read it -, except to say that the abundance of examples she uses makes clear just how important it is to make sure that pupils have first-rate word attack skills so that they are able to decode accurately.
As you’d expect, Edward Lear and Roald Dahl figure prominently, as does one of my daughter’s favourites, ‘bazinga’, from the ‘Big Bang Theory’. Just as interestingly, Alison draws attention to some of the names we, as adults, probably see so often we have long since stopped thinking of them as ‘made-up’ or ‘nonsense’ words.
You’ll also find in the piece a number of useful links to tests on nonsense words.
What’s Alison’s message? Nonsense words are just words we haven’t met yet.