Posted on

Teaching English as a Second Language

English as a second language

Teaching English as a Second Language

Think to Spell, Schwa, Word Markings, ESL, and Free Learning Tools

English as a second language If you’re looking for a great way tot teach your English as as second language students, starting with our Mnemonic Phonic Technique is a great start-this free tool teaches the 72 Orton phonograms and the 45 sounds that are associated with these phonograms.

Teach Manuscript Writing

After you’ve taught the 72 Orton phonograms and your English as a second language students (ESL) are comfortable with most of the sounds and sound sequences (you don’t have to wait until mastery), I suggest using our 4 Point Circle Technique to teach manuscript writing portion of the aforementioned phonograms. This technique is another free tool that we offer here at YesPhonics.

After you’ve taught the phonogram letters a-z using the 4 Point Circle Technique I suggest introducing the multi-letter phonograms. Unfortunately, we don’t have a video up yet of the multi-letter phonograms, but we’ll update this article as soon as it’s available on our YouTube channel.

The use of a picture dictionary is of great value to students that are learning English as a second language. @yesphonics Click to tweet

The 29 Spelling Rules

Now that you’ve taught all 72 Orton phonograms via the Mnemonic Phonic Technique and you’ve introduced the 4 English as a second languagePoint Circle Technique, It’s time to introduce 2-4 spelling words from the Ayres spelling list. It certainly helps for students to learn (or at least be familiar with) the 29 spelling rules. Introduce 2-4 rules per day (with practical review at the end of each session) until you’ve introduced each spelling rule. Once you’re students are fairly comfortable with all 29 spelling rules, it’s time to move onto the Ayres spelling list.

Using the Ayres Spelling List to Construct Sentences

Students learn to construct literate English sentences by using high frequency words as taught in the Ayres Spelling List (not only low frequency words in categories or of the letters/phonograms being taught). From the beginning they construct oral and written sentences using the spelling words. The student’s first reading “in context” experience is to read the sentences they have written from words in their Spelling Notebook. Correct spelling of words are the same as standard “book print.”

Accurate spelling facilitates fluent reading and creative writing. In the program manual the Ayres Spelling List of words are in syllables and are written from dictation. The intention is not to memorize, but rather to learn how to spell words by listening to and writing the sounds. The sound/symbol relationships and spelling rules that should be taught with the phonograms and spelling words are highly relevant because those who do not know them cannot learn to spell except by whole-word memorization. Spelling must be learned in syllables along with the spelling rules. When the phonograms are taught with the spelling rules, 93-97% of English is phonetically accurate. This knowledge is a real short-cut to spelling accuracy. Learning one rule for many words is much easier than learning each word individually. The spelling words are referenced to the 29 Spalding spelling rules that are taught with Lesson Plans and Worksheets.

English as a second language In the spelling lessons the students obtain the basic knowledge of how the written language works. At the completion of the spelling list at the end of the 3rd level (sequenced: kindergarten, first grade, second grade and third grade) the student can decode (read/pronounce) the longest of unfamiliar words syllable-by-syllable. At this point, students are able to read anything in their comprehension vocabulary of about 30,000 words. Compare this with the 900 words third-graders are able to read using Whole Language.

Think to Spell, Schwa, Word Markings and ESL

Think to Spell: Worldwide English Spellings are relatively uniform, whereas speech is very diverse. We use ‘Think to Spell’ as a memory device, the word should be sounded and spelled the way it is written as in: b/ee/n (not bin), s/ai/d (not sed) /a/ round (not /uh/round), then said the way that your culture says it.

Schwa: In the rhythm of speech, vowels in unstressed syllables are often muffled and sound like /uh/. In these syllables the vowel’s sound should be stressed and taught as it is written as in: rel/a/tive (not rel/uh/tive), unless we ‘think’ the vowel as it is written, spelling will not be accurate.

Word Markings: Marking the spelling words by using numbers, underlining and identification marks, identifies the phonogram’s sound as it is used in the sequence, multi-letter phonograms and indicates spelling rules.English as a second language

ESL: Write and Spell to Read and Speak: In many cases individuals whose first language is not English, who have good memorization skills (about 10% with photographic memory), will learn to write, spell and read English but are unable to fluently speak English. When the learner has the combined tools of: 1) knowing the sounds in sequence of use for the 72 basic Orton phonograms that say the 45 individual single sounds of English speech, 2) learn to spell words in syllables with spelling rules, 3) use the memory devices of ‘Think to Spell’ and word markings, then their ability to pronounce the word is enhanced.

Picture Dictionary: The use of a picture dictionary that has many words with pictures is of great value to students that are learning English as a second language of all ages, as well as elementary students. In the space under the word, the word may be written in syllables with word markings thus giving the student clues to its correct pronunciation.

Subscribe to the YesPhonics blog and YouTube channel for more classroom advice—and try our Mnemonic Phonic Technique for free to learn the 72 sounds of English.

photo credit: Wootang01 English Language Teaching via photopin (license)

photo credit: чãvìnkωhỉtз via photopin (license)

photo credit: LadyJaws Rizky via photopin (license)

photo credit: yewenyi Eliot and the Year 6 students via photopin (license)

Posted on

Teaching the Alphabet First: Debunking a Myth


Alphabet Teaching the Alphabet First: Debunking a Myth

Teach the 72 Orton Phonograms First

We’re usually taught that learning English starts with the alphabet. Kids need to learn those 26 letters before they can make the language work for them, so we need to teach them the alphabet as early as possible. But while it’s obviously true that kids are going to need the alphabet to read, it’s not necessarily the case that they need to learn it first. In fact, in many cases it makes more sense to shelve the symbols of written English at first and start with the sounds instead.

The Pitfalls of Alphabet-First Reading

The problem with the English alphabet is that every letter points to so many different sounds. The letter “a” sounds completely different in the word “lake” than it does in the word “lack”, and knowing that that letter is called “a” is not going to help a child remember why it makes the sound it makes. And that’s only a single vowel. Think about all the conditional rules and all their exceptions that make up the English language. Silent vowels at the ends of words and silent consonants at the beginnings, the suffix “-tion” making the same sound as the word “shun”, the cluster “gh” sounding the same as the letter “f”, except when it’s silent—think of it like this and it starts to seem like a pretty daunting task for a 4-year-old.

And even when some kids get it, an article on Education World points out, there are others who won’t. Many children, especially children with analytic learning styles, need a more logical approach to reading instruction. They need to see the language assembled bit by bit, built up from its component parts, rather than seeing the whole picture and then breaking it up into its component parts post-facto. The alphabet, in other words, is exactly the opposite of what they need.

This conference paper is a good demonstration of the importance of phonics in early reading: when two groups of first graders were taught to read based either on phonics or on what’s called “whole-language” reading—a teaching style that relies heavily on contextual fluency and the alphabet—the phonics group improved more in reading fluency and spelling, and in fact the whole-language group actually lost ground in spelling. What this suggests is that when the time comes to learn the alphabet, kids with a solid grounding in phonics are actually better prepared than their counterparts.

While it’s obviously true that kids are going to need the alphabet to read, it’s not necessarily the case that they need to learn it first. Click to Tweet

How to Teach Reading with Phonogramsalphabet

So how do you get away from relying on the alphabet? The solution is to ground your teaching in the basic sounds of the English language. English is made up of 72 sounds, and by the time a child is old enough to read, they already know those sounds, even if they don’t know they know them. Building out from that system of sounds to a more abstract system of letters is a more structured, more logical way to teach kids to read—it’s exactly the bit-by-bit assembly of the language that many kids require.

Teaching phonograms might not come naturally to everyone, especially people who were taught to read with whole-language methods. If anything, phonics sounds harder than the alphabet, not easier—after all, there are 72 sounds and not a simple 26 letters, and some of them come with built-in contextual rules. When you get into it, though, you’ll realize that explaining those sounds is a lot simpler than explaining the baked-in complexity of English letters. The process is a lot simpler and more intuitive than you’d expect from an intimidating number like 72.

We also have a lot of free resources at YesPhonics that are intended to expedite the process of teaching reading phonetically. Last year we published a three-part series on how to teach phonograms, which starts here. Those articles will give you a little background, walk you through the basics of the Orton-Spalding phonograms, and explain how you can use them at home or in the classroom. We also have a video over on YouTube that will walk you through our Mnemonic Phonic Technique, which is particularly helpful if you’re teaching or studying English as a second language.

Subscribe to the YesPhonics blog and YouTube channel for more classroom advice—and try our Mnemonic Phonic Technique for free to learn the 72 sounds of English.

photo credit: quinn.anya S via photopin (license)

photo credit: DiariVeu – 485208497 via photopin (license)