Are sight words taboo?

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kenm
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Re: sight word frustration

Post by kenm » Fri Apr 25, 2008 9:03 am

ElizabethB wrote:[...]I have a page about why sight words are harmful and a link to a pdf document with the 220 Dolch Sight Words arranged by sound spelling pattern:
http://www.thephonicspage.org/On%20Read ... words.html

It's a useful tool when parents claim that the sight words have to be learned as wholes because most of them are irregular.[...]
As a whole, the page is very clear and convincing. I found one set of rules that don't work in British pronunciation (there may be others):
These words are often taught as sight words, but actually, they are completely phonetic. The or in wor is always pronounced er as in her, the a in words starting with wa is pronounced ah as in saw, and the ar sound in words like warm is pronounced like or in for.
word, work, worth
want, wash, walk
warm, ward, war
In most British regions, "worry" is an exception to your first rule; I pronounce the "a" in walk like "saw", but not the others; "ware", "warrant" and "wary" are exceptions to your third rule.
"... the innovator has as enemies all those who have done well under the old regime, and only lukewarm allies among those who may do well under the new." Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince", Chapter 6

JIM CURRAN
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Subject

Post by JIM CURRAN » Fri Apr 25, 2008 12:52 pm

The term “sight word” causes much confusion. It is mostly used to describe logographic or whole word reading through a process of memorisation and we all know the problems that this faulty strategy can cause.

For me “Sight word” or orthographic reading is the strategy that proficient readers use. Ehri in her widely accepted “Phase Model” of reading acquisition describes how sight word or orthographic reading is the final of four phases and can only be attained through the phonological route. In other words the best and easiest route to orthographic reading is through the teaching of the alphabetic code.

ElizabethB
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Re: sight word frustration

Post by ElizabethB » Sat Apr 26, 2008 5:01 am

kenm wrote:
In most British regions, "worry" is an exception to your first rule; I pronounce the "a" in walk like "saw", but not the others; "ware", "warrant" and "wary" are exceptions to your third rule.
Now that you mention it, we have regional exceptions to some of these, too. I'll change the wording to say usually instead of always and note that regional variations in pronunciation may occur, especially in vowels before l or r. I'll also remove walk from the list. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

I think that cot and caught rhyme, and that is basically the same sound I say in walk.

My friends in the South don't rhyme the first 2 and take a lot longer to say the second word. They also pronounce walk differently than I do.

And, many in the NE United States have varying pronunciations for r words, one that comes to mind is "cah" for "car" in the Boston area.

My 2nd adult student was after we had just moved to Arkansas, and although I had occasionally encountered someone with a bit of a Southern accent, I had never lived in the South. My 1st adult student had a horrible guessing habit to begin with, by the end had broken it, but when she got tired, would skip word endings such as -s, es, ed, ing, etc. My Arkansas student kept saying "-in" for "ing" and it took me a few lessons to realize it was a dialect issue, not a guessing issue! Eventually I noticed that he said "in" for "ing" even in his oral speech. It was still his first several lessons, so I hadn't corrected him for it, luckily.

AngusM
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Post by AngusM » Sun Apr 27, 2008 5:31 am

Certainly, in the parts of England I know 'cot' and 'caught' will not rhyme. Neither will 'pot' and 'bought'.

Elizabeth
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Post by Elizabeth » Sun Apr 27, 2008 1:21 pm

I find different pronunciations fascinating. As a child, I went from near London to Ontario, to Glasgow, and then as an adult to Edinburgh to London and then to Berkshire, where I've been for a long time. And now I go to all sorts of interesting places teaching teachers about phonics.

But when I'm training, I find some teachers are really bothered about different accents. I don't think it's important, provided you understand the principles of the alphabetic code. Then you can adjust and tweak and have a laugh with the children or adults about the funny way you say things.

Did you know that in the Caribbean 'mother' and 'brother' are not tricky; they both rhyme with 'bother'? I think the American 'Mom' and the English 'Mum' are pronounced in almost the same way, and yet both have the expected spellings. Around Manchester 'sing' really does have four phonemes, as they clearly pronounce the 'g' at the end. In Glasgow and Newcastle (the northerly one), there's only one phoneme for 'oo'. And in Yorkshire, Manchester (and Nottingham?) 'look' and 'luck' sound the same.

Last Monday in London, I met a teacher from New Zealand, who was bothered that she felt she couldn't hear some of the vowel sounds in Jolly Phonics correctly. Unfortunately we didn't have long to talk about it, but I think it was the /e/ and /i/ sound. In New Zealand they say 'egg' the way I would pronounce 'igg'. What do you think I should have said to her, Kelly?
Elizabeth

Judy
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Post by Judy » Sun Apr 27, 2008 1:55 pm

I've moved around quite a bit too and find the various regional accents fascinating. But teaching spelling here in Wales has posed some problems, particularly with the different pronunciation of /oo/ (which is often pronounced as /ue/) and 'ah', which is pronounced here like a short 'a' in words such as 'bath' and 'class'.

I thought I had found a way around the 'ah' words, so as to distinguish them from those needing 'ar' in spelling, by assembling quite a large number of words where nobody would use the short 'a' sound; father, rather, lather, drama, banana, tomato, lager, lava, spa, sultana, iguana etc.

But then I took on a Scottish pupil - and discovered that she actually pronounces all of these with a sound which is virtually the short 'a'!!! :shock:

Rod Everson
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Re: sight word frustration

Post by Rod Everson » Sun Apr 27, 2008 3:30 pm

ElizabethB wrote:
I think that cot and caught rhyme, and that is basically the same sound I say in walk.
Hi Elizabeth,

In my part of Wisconsin most people (not all though) pronounce an /aw/ sound that is different from the /o/ sound in "cot." However, the sounds are close enough that I found it possible to omit from my curriculum the /aw/ options for the letters "a" and "o".

What I do instead is teach an /o/ mapping where the child maps words (** style) into two different columns depending on the spelling of the vowel sound, "a" or "o".

I start with words that are clearly /o/ sounds in each column, even around here. Words like hot, clock, notch, dodge in the "o" column, and want and father in the "a" column. Then I start mixing in the /aw/ words.

For example, we pronounce "cloth" and "moth" more like clawth and mawth (using what you would consider the Southerner's pronunciation in your description.) However, I have yet to have a child not decode "cloth" correctly and say the word he recognizes as "cloth" even though he might convert the vowel sound to /aw/ (without even realizing he's doing it.)

The "a" column is trickier because we have a lot of words that could be considered eligible for an "a"=/aw/ category around here. I start with "swat" because the pronunciation is close to "want" (but starting to drift toward swawt. I then present words like "salt" and "halt" before presenting words like "talk" and "water" where we really drawl out the /aw/ sound of the vowel.

By walking them into the issue in steps this way, they read each word without the issue of the drift toward an /aw/ sound ever arising, though I do mention it with some of the older kids.

In my workbook I do have an /aw/ mapping where the spellings aw, au, augh and ough are covered (claw, launch, caught, bought) but this mapping should be combined with the /o/ mapping in areas where cot and caught rhyme. One of the more challenging aspects of designing a curriculum around letter/sound correspondences is how much they vary from area to area, even within the same country. This is also where the sound-to-letter orientation leads to some unnecessary complexity, I feel, compared to the letter-to-sound direction, but that's another issue.

Rod Everson

g.carter
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Post by g.carter » Sun Apr 27, 2008 10:28 pm

The term “sight word” causes much confusion. It is mostly used to describe logographic or whole word reading through a process of memorisation and we all know the problems that this faulty strategy can cause.

For me “Sight word” or orthographic reading is the strategy that proficient readers use. Ehri in her widely accepted “Phase Model” of reading acquisition describes how sight word or orthographic reading is the final of four phases and can only be attained through the phonological route. In other words the best and easiest route to orthographic reading is through the teaching of the alphabetic code.
Jim's post is exactly what I'd like to have in a A-Z Directory under
Sight Words....

ElizabethB
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Post by ElizabethB » Mon Apr 28, 2008 2:45 am

Judy wrote:I've moved around quite a bit too and find the various regional accents fascinating. But teaching spelling here in Wales has posed some problems, particularly with the different pronunciation of /oo/ (which is often pronounced as /ue/) and 'ah', which is pronounced here like a short 'a' in words such as 'bath' and 'class'.

I thought I had found a way around the 'ah' words, so as to distinguish them from those needing 'ar' in spelling, by assembling quite a large number of words where nobody would use the short 'a' sound; father, rather, lather, drama, banana, tomato, lager, lava, spa, sultana, iguana etc.

But then I took on a Scottish pupil - and discovered that she actually pronounces all of these with a sound which is virtually the short 'a'!!! :shock:
I use some Broad Scots as "nonsense" type words at the end of some of my final lessons. Here's a sample:

Weel, ye see, I canna weel say. Blin' fowk somehoo kens mair nor ither fowk aboot things that the sicht o' the een has unco little to do wi'. But never min'. I'm willin' to bide i' the dark as lang as He likes.

My Scottish accent is so horrible I keep putting off recording the last few lessons showing how they should be pronounced.

Rod-

I actually teach in a similar manner to how you described, I think. I teach ob and ot, then cot and lot. I don't teach caught until later, and I explain that while I rhyme this sound with "cot," some people do not. I'd be interested to hear more on your thoughts about sound-to-letter vs. letter-to-sound teaching. While designing my marked-up print, I found I started hearing the 2 sounds of th more clearly--the more I saw and listened for the two sounds and saw them marked accordingly, the stronger their differences became for me. I'm not sure if this was because I was just listening harder for them, or if seeing a differently marked character for each sound made the difference concrete for me, or both.

Elizabeth-

For me, many -eg words, especially the word egg, that the sound of that e is closer to a long a. I also think ag words distort the sound of short a a bit.

My Southern students have a hard time distinguishing short i and e, especially in the words pen and pin. I teach short i, short a, short o, short e, then short u. I find this overlearning of short i helps them cement the sound of i in their brains and makes it easier to learn short e. When I taught them in alphabetical order, it was fine in the rest of the country, but not in the South. You can make more words with short i anyway, so I've kept my "Southern" order for all my students.

Bob Boden
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sound of 'e' in 'egg'

Post by Bob Boden » Mon Apr 28, 2008 3:08 am

Hi Elizabeth,

It is kind of good to hear that other people besides me pronounce 'egg' with a long 'a'. Often I see the word used in lists purporting to teach the short vowel sounds. I think the word 'pet' would be a better choice.

Other strange things. A creek is a crick to me. And 'roof' I pronounce with the 'u' sound in 'put'. Goes back to my youth, I guess.

Bob Boden

elsy
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Post by elsy » Wed Apr 30, 2008 9:33 pm

Aarg!? Bob, I think your long a is not the same as mine! :grin:

Rod Everson
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Post by Rod Everson » Fri May 02, 2008 7:05 pm

ElizabethB wrote: Rod-

I actually teach in a similar manner to how you described, I think.....I'd be interested to hear more on your thoughts about sound-to-letter vs. letter-to-sound teaching. While designing my marked-up print, I found I started hearing the 2 sounds of th more clearly--the more I saw and listened for the two sounds and saw them marked accordingly, the stronger their differences became for me. I'm not sure if this was because I was just listening harder for them, or if seeing a differently marked character for each sound made the difference concrete for me, or both.
Hi Elizabeth B,

While I used to think a "sound-to-letters" approach had an advantage because you could use that orientation to relate the more obscure symbolic print to the actual sounds kids were saying in words, I have gradually come around to realizing that the "sound-to-letters" orientation leads to poor curriculum choices.

If you let a linguist into the curriculum design process, he'll take the hundreds of sounds actually present in English when you consider all the co-articulation that occurs and start relating those to print. This results in a letter like "a" representing far too many sounds to be useful for instructing 5-year-olds.

If, instead, you start with the letters and ask the simple question, "How many sounds must I teach for each grapheme, at a minimum, so that kids will learn to read?" you then get what is essentially the Spalding Method, which is still, to my mind, the most effective language program presently in use in classrooms. (If someone disagrees with this, I'd like to know the name of the full language program--not just decoding--which you believe is better, as I would certainly look at it.)
ElizabethB wrote:
For me, many -eg words, especially the word egg, that the sound of that e is closer to a long a. I also think ag words distort the sound of short a a bit.

My Southern students have a hard time distinguishing short i and e, especially in the words pen and pin.....
The above two examples illustrate exactly what I'm talking about. The linguist will attempt to deal with the admittedly strong influence of the trailing "g" on the "a" in "bag," possibly by adding yet another option to the list of sounds to be taught for the grapheme "a". Yet any child will easily adopt the explanation that "bag" sounds a bit different than /b/+/a/+/g/, but that is how he should view the code in the word. He will then go on to read words like "sag," "brag" and "lag" with little difficulty. But more important, he will not be burdened with having to memorize yet another pronunciation option for the grapheme "a".

And while the linguist might be tempted to add an /i/ sound for the letter "e" in the South, your approach (letters-to-sounds) teaches a child the standard pronunciation for "e" while making them realize that their accent is causing them to pronounce "pen" a lot like "pin." This respects the accent while making them aware of the broader situation, a good thing.

Furthermore, going on something I read recently, once a child has both "pen" and "pin" properly represented in his head, he might well think he's saying them quite differently (because he's thinking the proper sounds) even though they are, in fact, coming out of his mouth sounding very much the same. What I read recently is that in the Boston accent, a speaker believes he is saying the /r/ sound in "ar" even though it sounds very much to me like he is saying it without (cah). To my ear "cah" and "car" do not rhyme. It's quite likely that "Ma" and "mar" also don't rhyme (in his head) to him either, because he "feels like" he's saying /ar/ instead of /o/ when he pronounces "mar." Any thoughts on this? I could be really, really wrong here, and would like to be corrected if so.

Rod Everson

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maizie
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Post by maizie » Fri May 02, 2008 8:25 pm

If you let a linguist into the curriculum design process, he'll take the hundreds of sounds actually present in English when you consider all the co-articulation that occurs and start relating those to print. This results in a letter like "a" representing far too many sounds to be useful for instructing 5-year-olds.

Fortunately no linguists have yet got their hands on a UK SP programme! 40 - 44 sounds, 160ish correspondences and Jenny's 'tweaking' technique may be a bit rough and ready, but they serve the vast majority of children very well.

The 3 -5% who are estimated to still struggle, even with SP instruction usually have complex difficulties, which may, or may not, be addressed by further linguistic analysis. I tend to think the 'may not' probably prevails.

As to the efficacy of sound to print or print to sound, the two are usually introduced almost simultaneously in UK programmes. I suspect that we will not know which is the better approach until a well funded, well conducted research study is undertaken on this. Given the struggle it has been just to gain acknowledgement of the superiority of systematic, explicit phonics instruction over look and guess I suspect that such research is way in the future.

Meanwhile, the complexities of accents, both internationally and intranationally, is fascinating :smile:

Rod Everson
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Post by Rod Everson » Fri May 02, 2008 9:37 pm

maizie wrote:
The 3 -5% who are estimated to still struggle, even with SP instruction usually have complex difficulties, which may, or may not, be addressed by further linguistic analysis. I tend to think the 'may not' probably prevails.
Hi maizie,

I agree, though that's primarily because, as you know, I feel that the 3-5% usually are suffering from undiagnosed and untreated vision issues (along with what I would estimate to be another 5-10% who are learning to read but are visually uncomfortable while doing so--couldn't resist throwing this in.)
maizie wrote:
As to the efficacy of sound to print or print to sound, the two are usually introduced almost simultaneously in UK programmes.
No matter which approach to curriculum design is used, the kids get bi-directional teaching (letters to sounds and sounds to letters) almost immediately in any phonics-oriented reading curriculum. Where the difference lies is in the curriculum design at the outset. Starting with sounds as the main emphasis results in a curriculum that is, I believe, more unwieldy than one that starts with graphemes as a main emphasis.

This is why I feel Spalding is, in the end, a better curricular approach than the one in Reading Reflex. It limits the options to the minimum necessary to teach, whereas Reading Reflex with its sounds-to-letters orientation has to acknowledge several additional sounds for many of the graphemes. Plus, they ran into the inevitable accent problems that going from sounds to letters generates and as a result just ignored most of the vowel + r situations when designing the curriculum.

For example, the Advanced Code Workbook I designed to use with my clients, while it looks like it is modeled on the Reading Reflex's approach, is actually philosophically closer to Spalding's method of organization. That change in emphasis has resulted in higher Code Knowledge scores and a far better understanding of the strategy of testing overlaps (tweaking) because the options taught are more tightly limited.

Rod Everson
OnTrack Reading

mtyler
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Post by mtyler » Sat May 03, 2008 12:04 am

This question hinges on the grouping of information for ease and effectiveness of instruction. Is it easier and more effective to teach kids multiple graphemes for a sound or multiple sounds for a grapheme? For example, 'ow' and 'ou' for the sound /ow/ or 'ow' for the sounds /ow/ and /oe/. This question is difficult to answer because programs vary so widely in how much is grouped at one time.

Reading Reflex, though moving me closer to figuring out how to teach my daughter to read, was not helpful in the practical sense because it introduced too much information at one time and gave little explicit instruction for practice.

With my younger children I am choosing to teach 1 to 2 graphemes for a sound with lots of practice before introducing alternative sounds. I chose this direction after testing the other options because, as opposed to teaching multiple sounds for a grapheme, it reduced the number of choices they had to make when encountering the letters. Once I have introduced the sound /ow/ for the spellings 'ow' and 'ou' they get to practice it for a long time before another alternative is introduced. This reduces the cognitive load at the time of instruction. I only teach 2 graphemes together if there is a visual link that I can explicitly discuss.

As far as I can understand, Spalding reduces the cognitive load for beginners by holding off blending until the phonograms, that is, the graphemes and their chosen sounds, are learned really well.

Perhaps for older students the other way makes more sense as the students have more cognitive ability and the goal is to get them reading as quickly as possible as they are probably being exposed to advanced code print regularly.

As long as the instructor has a good understanding of the Alphabetic principle and a comfort with the organization, and an ability to pay attention to what is being learned by students, any method could work. Each of us has adapted published programs to suit our experience and our logic.

Diacritical marks would not work for me because I would have to learn something different in order to teach. Spalding's approach would not work because it makes me feel batty that she says there are only 3 sounds for the letter 'a'. I couldn't use a system that uses the split digraph because it seems strange to me. So I made up my own system that makes sense to me and takes into account the complexity of the English language. Each of these systems has value in that they 1) respect the complexities of English and 2) presents a system for dealing with them.

Melissa
Minnesota, USA

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