Community Village

Literacy: Student writing
Author: Breda Matthews, EAL specialist
Created: Wed 7th Sep 2022

Schools often have a number of students who are not yet literate in English. Whilst this includes English-speaking children who are only just learning to read and write, it also covers other groups of learners, including:

  • 'pre-literate' learners who come from an oral language tradition where there is no written form of the language. This can make the concepts of reading and writing very difficult to grasp.

Child trying to pronounce
Author: Miranda Howell, EAL specialist
Created: Mon 17th May 2021

As school teachers faced with EAL learners in our classrooms, we often push the teaching of phonics down the list, especially at secondary school level. Yet communication is dependent on comprehensive pronunciation when speaking, and on decoding graphemes when reading. Consider for a moment the impact mispronunciation can have on accurate communication. For example, if I ask for soap in a restaurant, I might be faced with a blank stare! This error is caused by confusing two very similar phonemes in soap/soup.

Author: Collette Forrest
Created: Wed 11th May 2016

In the last edition, we considered the importance of not using a Whole Language approach in isolation as a primary method of literacy instruction, but rather ensuring that a systematic, skills-based approach is used to guarantee reading and writing progression for second language learners.

This begs the question, which systematic approach should we use? The two systematic methods adopted by most practitioners for first language learners are the Analytical or Analytic Phonics approach or the Synthetic Phonics approach.

Author: Colette Forrest
Created: Tue 12th Apr 2016

As educational pedagogies continue to move cyclically, with new strategies moving in and out of favour, the battle of reading approaches continues to rage on between the 3 main approaches: Synthetic Phonics, Analytical Phonics and Whole Language methods. They are often viewed on a continuum, with the Whole Language approach (Top Down method) being the least skills based and the Synthetic Phonics approach (Bottom Up method) being the most (see figure 1).

Author: Anita Bamberger & Caroline Scott
Created: Mon 29th Jun 2015

Many of us have learnt to spell as a child without being specifically taught the sounds. In the past, the teaching of phonics was discouraged in schools, however, we learnt a lot through sounding out words independently. At a recent course on voice production, the importance of vowel sounds was emphasised as central to pronunciation. They were also emphasised as central to sounding out to help with spelling. Chunking (breaking up words into syllables) also helps to sound out and spell longer more challenging words.