I’ve been thinking quite a bit recently about Glynis Cousin’s short introduction to ‘threshold concepts’, an idea developed by Erik Meyer and Ray Land and, although I have reservations about some of the things she argues, I find her central theme quite helpful. She describes a threshold concept as one that is ‘central to the mastery of… Continue reading Threshold concepts and the idea of sound to print
Although I’ve written about the differences between linguistic and traditional (graphemic) phonics a number of times to date, I’m often being asked for further clarification. This I am more than happy to give because it’s in the detail of what we do at Sounds-Write that makes it so effective. So, how do the two orientations differ from… Continue reading Graphemes and phonemes, or how NOT to teach reading and spelling
Following on from my last post in which I reported the results of a spelling test taken by a class about to begin Y2 in St George’s Primary School in Wandsworth, this time I’m publishing the results from the same spelling test for a class just about to begin Y3. The reason I’m putting the posts… Continue reading The phonics achievement challenge
‘Phonics,’ wrote Diane McGuinness, in her superb book Early Reading Instruction ‘is a problematic word.’ Never was there a truer thing said! Why? Because ‘phonics’ is an umbrella term for all kinds of approaches, some good and some fair-to-middling-grim. According to McGuinness, the ‘classification is unsatisfactory because it does not identify the critical difference in… Continue reading Sound to print: the appliance of science
In spite of having written on this issue a number of times before (here, here and here), after reading Nathaniel Swain’s piece in The Conversation ‘Trying to change English’s complex spelling is a waste of time’, I feel moved to say more on the subject. Essentially, Swain is quite right! The trouble is that, although he… Continue reading Reform the spelling system? Not likely! Train the teachers!
As Charles Perfetti wrote in his article ‘The Universal Grammar of Reading’ (Scientific Studies of Reading, 7:1, 3-34) in 2009, ‘examples of the variability of English spelling-pronunciation mappings are stock-in-trade for some opponents of phonics teaching, as well as the traditional call to arms for spelling reformers. The parallel is quite superficial, however, because although… Continue reading Why the Chair of the English Spelling Society doesn’t understand the English orthographic code
Over the weekend I saw two sets of parents, both of which are highly educated and middle class and both of which have decided to pay for private tuition in numeracy and literacy for their children. When I asked them why, their reasons were almost identical: in terms of the children’s literacy, they were not… Continue reading Why Children Can’t Read
I ought to state from the outset that, imho, the academic writer most worth reading on this subject is the Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of South Florida, Diane McGuinness. Her Early Reading Instruction (2004), Language Development and Learning to Read (2005) and Why Children Can’t Read (1996) have all had an enormous… Continue reading How the English alphabetic system needs to be taught