text where each letter has its pronunciation indicated

Moderators: Debbie Hepplewhite, maizie, Lesley Drake, Susan Godsland

Bob Boden
Posts: 228
Joined: Fri Oct 31, 2003 1:59 am

a 'dictionary key' type of text for teaching reading

Post by Bob Boden » Thu Nov 05, 2009 12:57 am

The following paragraph was written by Dr Steve Bett of the Saundspel Group.

By 'dictionary key' text he means a text in which each letter represents but one sound, like in Pitman's ITA.

"I think one good strategy is to teach a dictionary key first. I can demonstrate that I can teach preschool children to read and write in a radical phonemic code in 3 months. Most experts would argue that you have to teach reading before writing and that preschool children are not ready. It is true that they are not ready for TS but they are more than ready for a dictionary key. Here is the kicker. If we taught the dictionary key first and even explained to parents what we were doing, they would still want their children to become skilled in reading traditional text. The best we can do at this point is to make everyone aware of the price we pay for a deep orthography. We can teach the dictionary key in 3 weeks and the children will overlearn it in a writing to read program in 3 months."

chew8
Posts: 4152
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2003 6:26 pm

Post by chew8 » Thu Nov 05, 2009 9:18 am

Bob:

Is your ultimate aim the same as Steve Bett's then? - i.e. to secure major spelling reform in English?

Jenny C.

Bob Boden
Posts: 228
Joined: Fri Oct 31, 2003 1:59 am

Do we respell English?

Post by Bob Boden » Thu Nov 05, 2009 8:11 pm

Hi Jenny,

I have worked on both sides of the fence. I have developed several different respell systems (I think SRS4h is my favorite). It turns out that English is not a difficult language to respell, and NBC English, because of its widespread usage, provides an immediate candidate. In this increasingly complicated age it would be so nice to be able to teach all English-speaking kids to read proficiently in kindergarten in about three months as a result of respell. They could then begin to be taught the basics in all those subjects which can only be learned if one knows how to read. (Think of word problems in math.) But this is a subject bound to incur widespread opposition.

My personal preference is for the respelling of a list of about 1000 of the most grievously misspelled words of high usage, especially those a child must learn in order to begin to read proficiently. A government could provide for the acceptability of the respelled words in all government documents.

In answer to Ken's objection that any kind of respell system must face the difficulty that England has many different dialects, I could just ask, "Which dialect does an English company make use of in films it hopes to sell throughout England and abroad?"

kenm
Posts: 1495
Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2005 5:19 pm
Location: Berkshire

Post by kenm » Thu Nov 05, 2009 8:43 pm

English films are made with accents appropriate to the characters but use dialect words only with explanation. However, I seem to recall that one that made heavy use of thick Glaswegian (which has dialect words also) had sub-titles also.

My objections to respelling are two:

1) They imply a precise pronunciation that will be that of only a minority of the English speaking population of the world;

2) They lose semantic information, of which I still make use, from time to time; in particular, they lose the ability to distinguish homophones: e.g. "Philip" means "lover of horses"; "fillip" does not.
"... 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

chew8
Posts: 4152
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2003 6:26 pm

Post by chew8 » Thu Nov 05, 2009 10:53 pm

My objections are the same as kenm's.

I also know that with good synthetic phonics teaching, virtually all children can become competent readers. It may take them a bit longer than it takes children learning to read in other languages, but the difference in time is not so great that it justifies wholesale spelling reform with the consequent need for all the books that children might want to read to be respelled before they can read them - to say nothing of environmental print etc.

If your ultimate aim is spelling reform, Bob, it's just as well that we should know.

Jenny C.

Bob Boden
Posts: 228
Joined: Fri Oct 31, 2003 1:59 am

respelling of the English Language

Post by Bob Boden » Fri Nov 06, 2009 12:38 am

Hi Jenny,

I do not think that we will see the English language respelled in our lifetime. It might be desirable from a long range viewpoint, but I just don't think it is going to take place.

By the way, a person learns a lot when he attempts to come up with a good respell system, even if the possibility of its usage is nil.

I am in favor of making use of the Phondot system to simplify the teaching of reading without requiring respell. I am perfectly aware that reading can be taught well without any changes, but we both know that all teachers of reading are not Jenny Chews or Debbie Hepplewhites. Furthermore our jails are filling up with non-readers who can't stand minimum wage, and we are having trouble getting teachers for many of our poorer neighborhoods.

The use of modern computer word-processing capability in the teaching of reading is on its way to happen, regardless of what we do. The local University tells me that I am just ahead of my time. But the possibility of saving the cost of a couple years of teaching (in the case of reading) is bound to finally create some political pressure. Big money is involved. I know politicians who agree very much with me, and some are former teachers.

So I'll keep working away, but I do feel a bit lonesome at times.

Bob Boden

User avatar
Debbie Hepplewhite
Administrator
Posts: 3648
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2005 4:13 pm
Location: Berkshire
Contact:

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Fri Nov 06, 2009 2:41 am

Oh Bob - you may well feel 'lonesome' in the sense that we may not appear to be in favour of marking print for pronunciation in the way that you describe - but I hope you don't feel 'lonesome' in the sense that we are definitely your cyber friends - and it is very good that you contribute to the forum and are fighting the good fight for people to become literate! :grin:

chew8
Posts: 4152
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2003 6:26 pm

Post by chew8 » Fri Nov 06, 2009 5:11 pm

How long did it take you and your contemporaries to learn to read as young children, Bob? Were there any who failed miserably?

If, as I suspect, you all became fairly competent quite quickly, without the need for spelling reform or a system indicating the pronunciation of each letter, is there any reason why today's children shouldn't do likewise provided that they get sensible teaching?

Jenny C.

Bob Boden
Posts: 228
Joined: Fri Oct 31, 2003 1:59 am

How reading was taught years ago

Post by Bob Boden » Fri Nov 06, 2009 9:02 pm

Hi Jenny,

At the elementary school I attended as a kid it was thought that children were not mature enough to learn to read until they were in the second grade. My first grade teacher cheated and taught us all to read in the last half of the first grade. Learning to read was taken for granted in those days. You went to school to learn your ABC's and you did. It was synthetic phonics in the extreme.

Neither my wife nor I (nor any of our friends) ever knew a kid who couldn't read proficiently by the third grade. But the procedure was arduous and the discipline was exact. I think we spent a full half day on matters relating to the learning of reading. (I took 'spelling tests' every day through the last day of High School.) We had excellent teachers. It was the time of the Great Depression and the most capable teachers were available, even for first grade.

We had to learn to write, spell, and pronounce a list of at least 25 words a day, and we were all tested the next day, and the results were posted near the door. Of course I always tried to be on top. I can remember when I first made 100% and was rewarded with a prize. I was authorized to take books out of the school library!

In the first half of second grade I was a bookworm. My Mom kept telling me I should really go out and play rather than just sit there reading a book.

Could we practice this kind of children's education again? I strongly suspect it would be difficult.

Bob Boden

Bob Boden
Posts: 228
Joined: Fri Oct 31, 2003 1:59 am

a possible subject for a research paper

Post by Bob Boden » Sat Nov 14, 2009 11:27 pm

I sent the following to a teacher who is considering the Phondot System as a theme for a research paper:
------ ------ ------ ----- --- ------
Some further thoughts regarding Phondot:

I have suggested that all Pharmaceutical manufacturers be required to mark the names of new drugs they ship to druggists with Phondot coding. At present a druggist getting a box of new drugs often has no idea how the names should be pronounced. Neither does a doctor who is attempting to fill a prescription by talking to a druggist. Misunderstandings occur. Druggists have told me it is a real problem. Not good.

With the Phondot system any new drug name can have pronunciation indicated with no changes required in size of print or color of names on a pill bottle. Cost: zero. I suggested this to the FDA, who told me that this was a matter between the doctors and the druggists. I guess they couldn't care less.

Another intriguing characteristic of the Phondot marking system: If letters on a sign are composed of lines with some width the phondot markings can simply be tiny vacant spots at the proper places on the letter. This would allow the names of small towns along the road to be shown in a form which would allow foreigners to pronounce them the same way as the inhabitants.

Another thing. If a teacher is writing text on the 'white board' she could always indicate the exact pronunciation of a particular word by putting colored dots on the correct spots on the letters. She could show the pronunciation of 'done, gone, and lone' by the addition of three little dots, plus the use of the ignore line. Thoughts of use of velcro spring to mind.

I hope you will be able to examine some of the expensive teaching-to-read systems now being sold to the public schools. You will see that the pages devoted to the teaching of the alphabet and how to spell words like cat and pet are just the first part of an extensive set of pages which attempt to show how to spell the 'irregularly spelled words'. Think soul, soup, out, touch, should, cough. I had the possibility of examining 'Reading California'. I was just amazed at the way the publisher's system could be simplified if only the Phondot System were in place.

Have I given you some new ideas?

Bob Boden

kenm
Posts: 1495
Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2005 5:19 pm
Location: Berkshire

Re: a possible subject for a research paper

Post by kenm » Sun Nov 15, 2009 11:00 am

Bob Boden wrote:Another intriguing characteristic of the Phondot marking system: If letters on a sign are composed of lines with some width the phondot markings can simply be tiny vacant spots at the proper places on the letter. This would allow the names of small towns along the road to be shown in a form which would allow foreigners to pronounce them the same way as the inhabitants.
Interesting. Each local authority in the UK would need an expert on local pronunciation to determine the Phondot spellings. If they were to transfer their Education Department's reading advisers to this task, the results would be highly beneficial.

I would be interested in seeing the Phondot representations of "Cirencester" (pronounced /Sissiter/) and "Dittisham" (/Ditsum/).
"... 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

Judy
Posts: 1184
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2005 9:57 pm

Post by Judy » Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:04 pm

Ken, you could add quite a few English placenames to that list, eg

Wymondham (Windum), Meopham (Meppum), Gloucester (Gloster), Leominster (Lemster)..... my favourite is Happisburgh (Hazeborough).

Bob Boden
Posts: 228
Joined: Fri Oct 31, 2003 1:59 am

mark words the first five times they appear in a book

Post by Bob Boden » Sun Nov 15, 2009 7:31 pm

Hi Ken and Judy

We don't have quite the same problem in the US with place names, but of course there are always exceptions.

By the way, I thought of another suggestion which I made long ago:

I suggested that downloadable books intended for young readers put Phondot pronunciation markings on all words for the first five times they occur in the text. An experienced programmer told me this would not be a hard thing to do.

I don't believe that just because there are variations in local dialects we have to give up our attempts to simplify the teaching of reading. Some standardization has to be accepted even in our dictionaries.

The last paragraph reminds me of my observation some time back that a small dictionary could use Phondot encoded words as both the target word and the pronunciation indicator word.

Bob Boden

Bob Boden
Posts: 228
Joined: Fri Oct 31, 2003 1:59 am

letter to some Officials

Post by Bob Boden » Wed Nov 18, 2009 2:19 am

I sent the following to a couple of high officials. I also sent a couple chapters of Alice in Wonderland (marked). You know of course that I am talking about TV English. I suspect also that the English is very much like that produced in England for movies they want to sell abroad.

The local schools are opposing me with everything in their power, but local officials seem to be giving the matter some thought. The cost of public education here is alarming. There is just not enough money to continue doing things the old way.

Bob Boden
------ ----- ----- ------
Dear Superintendent,

I want you to be aware that there is a way of significantly reducing the cost of the public elementary schools. They are not making use of modern computer word-processing systems in their teaching of reading. It is easily possible at this time to automatically mark the letters in English text to show the pronunciation of each letter, with no change in spelling. Children could easily be taught to read proficiently in kindergarten if letters (temporarily), each had but one sound. Could I show you more about the invention which makes such improvement possible?

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests