Establish an alphabetic code to avoid errors and confusion

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Establish an alphabetic code to avoid errors and confusion

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Tue Aug 27, 2013 1:22 pm

https://czone.eastsussex.gov.uk/sites/g ... 20quiz.pdf

Susan just flagged up this literature as being OK apart from what she noted as introducing tricky words as 'whole words'.

On close scrutiny, however, errors and inconsistencies creep into the detailed parts of the alphabetic code.

There is reference to page 21 - Appendix 2 - of the Letters and Sounds: Principles and Practice of High Quality Phonics Notes of Guidance for Practitioners and Teachers - and this, I suggest, is where failure to address sounds which are units of two phonemes - specifically /ks/, /gz/, /yoo/ and /kw/ are sadly lacking in the 'Phonemes to graphemes' tables on pages 23 and 24.

Further scrutiny of the charts in the Letters and Sounds guidance, however, show other inconsistencies which may serve to mislead people who tend to refer to 'Letters and Sounds' as their central information and guidance because of the 'official' status of this publication.

For example, scrutiny of the 'Graphemes to phonemes (vowels)' chart on pages 26 and 27 show different treatment of the single vowel letters of a, e, i, o, u.

For letter a, the sounds provided are /a/ (as in ant), /o/ (as in was) and /ar/ (as in father) - but not /ai/ (as in table).

For letter e, however, we see /e/ (as in egg) and /ee/ (as in he).

For letter o, we see /o/ (as in on), /oa/ (as in go) and /u/ (as in won).

For letter i, we see /i/ (as in in) and /igh/ (as in mind).

For letter u, we see /u/ (as in up) and /oo/ (as in put) - but not /yoo/ (as in uniform).

I would have thought that letter a as /ai/ and letter u as /yoo/ (often described as 'long vowel sounds') should not have been neglected in such detailed tables.

Instead of one comprehensive alphabetic code chart covering all the units of sound necessary to know including a small handful which are two phonemes combined, the information about the alphabetic code has been provided in four tables with some serious bits missing out of both the phoneme tables (phoneme to grapheme - such as the sounds /yoo/, /ks/ /gz/ and /kw/ are left out) and in the grapheme to phoneme tables such as the sounds not provided above - that is: a as code for /ai/ and u as code for /yoo/ are left out).

This means that many people providing material which is also sort of 'official' such as the link above provided as student training in a university, may tend to base the alphabetic code information on existing 'official' code information which is provided in a complex way and which misses out essential components of the alphabetic code chart.

Here is what I am finding when reviewing all sorts of phonics information, guidance, programmes, that wherever people fail to establish 'their' alphabetic code by way of an alphabetic code chart, they get in a muddle sooner or later and their notation and guidance inevitably includes flaws and/or omissions.

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Re: Establish an alphabetic code to avoid errors and confusion

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Tue Aug 27, 2013 1:28 pm

Putting 'omissions' to one side for a moment, another common error is using the slash marks (which should be used as denoting when people mean ' the sounds') to indicate the graphemes (letters and letter groups).

This happens in the literature above in a section on lesson planning on page 15:

Under the heading 'Example plan at Phase 5' on page 15 we see various places where the slash marks are used to denote both the sounds AND the graphemes - there is no distinction between the graphemes or phonemes thus:
Resources: Graphemes: /ai/ /ay/, phoneme frames, pens and wipes, prepared sentences for reading and dictation.
Later it says:
Introduce the new grapheme for the phoneme /ai/ - /ay/ as a flashcard.

Later it says:
Write on the board new target words with /ay/ as the phoneme - for example, 'day, play, say'.
Later it says:
Focus on the new grapheme /ay/.
Now, if anyone is reading this and doesn't understand the point I am making about wrong use of the slash marks and the muddling of sounds and graphemes, then that is very worrying and you need to print off an alphabetic code chart which is free at www.alphabeticcodecharts.com to see how slash marks are used to denote the phonemes (or units of sound) and the graphemes (letters and letter groups).

Why I have flagged this up is because it is SO COMMON and we have to appreciate the level of the confusion everywhere by failure to use alphabetic code charts to base one's work on - be it a piece of literature about phonics or be it a phonics programme or set of books.

Alphabetic Code Charts cannot be definitive and they can be individual to the publication or programme, but they need to clarify the terminology used in whatever resource.

Further, what does this say about both the person who wrote the above material and the people who deliver this material if they are unaware of the omissions, errors and inconsistencies?

What are our poor student-teachers to make of all of this?

I totally accept that teachers with this level of confusion are still teaching children - perhaps very effectively as these errors are errors of adults and for adults - and don't necessarily trickle down to the children per se - but it really isn't good enough in my book for MOVING FORWARDS with our professional development and shared our understanding of the alphabetic code.

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Re: Establish an alphabetic code to avoid errors and confusion

Post by kenm » Tue Aug 27, 2013 3:17 pm

Debbie Hepplewhite wrote:For letter e, however, we see /e/ (as in egg) and /ee/ (as in he).

For letter o, we see /o/ (as in on), /oa/ (as in go) and /u/ (as in won).
...
For letter u, we see /u/ (as in up) and /oo/ (as in put) - but not /yoo/ (as in uniform.
"e" also represents schwa, as in "cover"; "o" the two phonemes /wu/, as in one; "u" the single phoneme /oo/, as in "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

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Re: Establish an alphabetic code to avoid errors and confusion

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Tue Aug 27, 2013 4:26 pm

The trouble with going from 'print to sound' is that it leads to a complex understanding of pronunciation alternatives word-by-word.

There are so many different alternatives for various letters and letter groups that it gets very complicated.

I think this is why Diane McGuinness recommended the greater simplicity of working out the alphabetic code based on 'sound to print' - that is, focused on the sounds. These come to an end-point.

Thus, by starting off with the identifiable sounds (the 44 or so phonemes - but as I keep suggesting, other units of sound which are essential) you still have a number of units which is handleable - up to 50 units of sound for example.

Then, list the main spelling alternatives for those sounds across the rows of an alphabetic code charts - plus a few which are 'rare' or 'unusual' but which may be in words used commonly.

But, going from print to sound, the subsequent list, or table, becomes unmanageable and tends to be a word-by-word table.

Compare these two different charts/tables - one for which the rationale is 'sound to print' and features the sounds and their spelling alternatives (the alphabetic code chart) and one for which the rationale is 'print to sound' and features letters and various letter groupings (not necessarily at phoneme level because common letter patterns get complicated) and their pronunciation alternatives:

http://alphabeticcodecharts.com/DDD_par ... bleTop.pdf

http://www.phonicsinternational.com/Pro ... nglish.pdf

The Pronunciation Guide does not include all the possibilities of pronunciation word by word - but is intended to reflect the complications that readers are faced with in the English language.

At the beginning of the Pronunciation Guide, Ken, you will notice 8 possible pronunciations for the letter 'a' - there may well be more still when considering individual words.

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Re: Establish an alphabetic code to avoid errors and confusion

Post by chew8 » Tue Aug 27, 2013 5:38 pm

This is a response to an earlier message of Debbie’s.

I don’t think you allow sufficiently, Debbie, for the fact that there can be different and equally valid ways of looking at things. I’ll focus just on what you say below about the L and S treatment of ‘a’ and ‘u’ as distinct from ‘e’, ‘i’ and ‘o’.
Debbie wrote:Further scrutiny of the charts in the Letters and Sounds guidance, however, show other inconsistencies which may serve to mislead people who tend to refer to 'Letters and Sounds' as their central information and guidance because of the 'official' status of this publication.

For example, scrutiny of the 'Graphemes to phonemes (vowels)' chart on pages 26 and 27 show different treatment of the single vowel letters of a, e, i, o, u.

For letter a, the sounds provided are /a/ (as in ant), /o/ (as in was) and /ar/ (as in father) - but not /ai/ (as in table).
For letter e, however, we see /e/ (as in egg) and /ee/ (as in he).

For letter o, we see /o/ (as in on), /oa/ (as in go) and /u/ (as in won).

For letter i, we see /i/ (as in in) and /igh/ (as in mind).

For letter u, we see /u/ (as in up) and /oo/ (as in put) - but not /yoo/ (as in uniform).
The L and S approach here is surely to stick with examples where it can’t be argued that the sound of the vowel letter is influenced by the letter-pattern following it. Vowel-consonant-e words are a case where the letter-pattern clearly does influence the preceding vowel sound. The same is usually true when the vowel after the consonant is something other than ‘e’, as in ‘operator’, ‘liking’, ‘polar’ . Words such as ‘he’ and ‘go’ are a safe choice because there are no following letters and the single vowel letter on its own is the only thing that can account for the ‘long’ sound. 'Mind' is also fairly safe, because when two consonants follow a vowel letter, the vowel is usually 'short' (e.g. mist, mint, hinder etc.) Words such as ‘uniform’ are not a safe choice from this point of view, however, as it’s perfectly arguable that it’s the vowel-consonant-vowel pattern which accounts for the 'long' sound of the ‘u’.

‘Table’ is a bit more complicated. Mona’s approach is this: ‘The letter-group –le at the end of words acts like –e, and can “jump back over” one consonant to make the previous vowel say its name and be a long vowel.’ That’s one way of looking at it. Another way of looking at it is to say that the final ‘e’ is having its typical lengthening effect, but (unusually here) across two intervening consonants – words ending in ‘-ste’ are another group (baste, chaste, haste, paste, taste, waste). Again, though, these other ways of looking at it, both taking the letters following the ‘long’ vowel into account, mean that words such as ‘table’ are not a safe choice to show that ‘a’ on its own can represent the same sound as ‘ai’.

That, I think, is why L and S does not include examples such as ‘table’ and ‘uniform’. The reasoning is perfectly valid.

Jenny C.
Last edited by chew8 on Tue Aug 27, 2013 6:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Establish an alphabetic code to avoid errors and confusion

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Tue Aug 27, 2013 6:09 pm

Your rationale for not including the letter 'u' as code for /yoo/ as in 'uniform' does not warrant its neglect in official tables and charts.

You are calling upon a form of phonics which is not based on tallying the sounds in the spoken word with the letters and letter groups in the written word. In other words, your rationale and Mona's rationale is unnecessarily complicated.

You need only think in simple terms of, "In this word 'uniform', the letter 'u' is code for the /yoo/ sound". It is not the responsibility of the DfE when providing an official chart or table of information to consider how teachers may, or may not, teach the reading or spelling of the code in practical terms.

In practical terms, you actually do not need to call upon any indications of other vowel letters affecting the pronunciation of the letter 'u' per se.

I think this is where we do not share a common understanding of the nature of the alphabetic code itself - nor of the teaching of it for reading and spelling purposes.

In terms of writing a phonics programme, for example, some of the time the content of the programme and the guidance is focused upon the reading process - from print to sound - but some of the time the content and guidance focus needs to be on the spelling process - from sound to print.

In previous posts it was pointed out that the way of promoting the use of the alphabetic code may well be different according to whether the focus is reading or spelling. In other words, the code is not strictly reversible for reading and spelling in all cases.

The case of 'x' as code for /ks/ is one such example.

For reading, the reader will look at 'fox' and be able to sound out /f/ /o/ /ks/ and discern the word 'fox.

For spelling, however, the speller may identify three sounds for the spoken word 'fox' of /f/ /o/ /ks/ or actually four sounds /f/ /o/ /k/ /s/ dependent upon the circumstances.

The teacher may need to step in to help with the spelling.

But, if children have been introduced to the unit of sound /ks/ which has to be the case for translating the letter 'x' into sound, then the child may well identify these sounds in the following words:

books - /b/ /short /oo/ /k/ /s/

Or - /b/ short /oo/ /ks/.

This may lead to different spellings and it may lead to the teacher needing to teach about singular and plural where spelling is concerned.

Neither 'fox' nor 'books' are hard to decode (read) but they present additional challenges for spelling purposes.

Add to the mix words such as 'likes' and 'picnics'.

The point is, for the purposes of providing alphabetic code information, the author of the chart or table does not have to be concerned with these teaching details.

The 'alphabetic code' should simply illustrate the tallying of sounds in the spoken word to the print in the printed word.

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Re: Establish an alphabetic code to avoid errors and confusion

Post by chew8 » Tue Aug 27, 2013 6:22 pm

The speed of your responses, Debbie, sometimes makes me wonder whether you take enough time to think things through. I have other things on my plate at present, and will take time to respond.

Jenny C.

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Re: Establish an alphabetic code to avoid errors and confusion

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Tue Aug 27, 2013 7:15 pm

I do respond to various postings in haste because I too am busy.

However, 'phonics' is my full-time job - this is what I do 24/7 and so I keep my finger on the pulse and grow my understanding which can, and has, changed over time and with experience.

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Re: Establish an alphabetic code to avoid errors and confusion

Post by chew8 » Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:23 am

I've spent time trying to think through some of the issues raised in this thread. I sometimes find your reasoning hard to follow, Debbie.
You wrote:There are so many different alternatives for various letters and letter groups that it gets very complicated.
Do you mean ‘there are so many letters and letter-groups’ rather than ‘there are so many alternatives for letters and letter-groups’? I think you do sometimes use more words than necessary and this can result in a lack of clarity.
You wrote:The trouble with going from 'print to sound' is that it leads to a complex understanding of pronunciation alternatives word-by-word.

...going from print to sound, the subsequent list, or table, becomes unmanageable and tends to be a word-by-word table’.
Compare these two different charts/tables - one for which the rationale is 'sound to print' and features the sounds and their spelling alternatives (the alphabetic code chart) and one for which the rationale is 'print to sound' and features letters and various letter groupings (not necessarily at phoneme level because common letter patterns get complicated) and their pronunciation alternatives:

http://alphabeticcodecharts.com/DDD_par ... bleTop.pdf

http://www.phonicsinternational.com/Pro ... nglish.pdf

The Pronunciation Guide does not include all the possibilities of pronunciation word by word - but is intended to reflect the complications that readers are faced with in the English language.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time comparing the charts as you suggest, but this comparison has not left me feeling that a print-to-sound approach is much more unmanageable than a sound-to-print approach. The left-hand column in your print-to-sound chart is headed ‘Graphemes and spelling patterns’ but I’ll use the abbreviation G>P (grapheme-to-phoneme) for that chart and will use P>G (phoneme-to-grapheme) for the other chart, although the left-hand column there is, for obvious reasons, headed ‘Sounds’ rather than ‘Phonemes’.

I make the number of units down the left-hand column of the G>P chart 85 and the number of sounds down the left-hand column of the P>G chart 48. But in fact you list another four sound-units in the P>G chart (/ngk/, /gz/, /chu/ and voiced /th/) so the total number of sounds is 52 – the extra four appear under the heading ‘Graphemes, or spelling alternatives, which are code for the sounds’, but you indicate that they are sounds by using slash-marks and the same colour for the boxes as in the ‘Sounds’ column. 52 is certainly less than 85 (though not hugely so), but when I count up the spelling alternatives in the P>G chart and the pronunciation alternatives in the G>P chart, I get very similar numbers – 201 and 204 respectively. So although the number of sound-units in the P>G chart is smaller than the number of ‘Graphemes and spelling patterns’ in the G>P chart, the average number of alternatives per unit is larger in the P>G chart: 3.9 alternatives per unit in that chart vs. 2.5 alternatives per unit in the G>P chart. Isn’t it swings and roundabouts? – fewer left-hand units in the P>G chart but more alternatives across the page, vs. more left-hand units in the G>P chart but fewer alternatives across the page?

I can’t always understand your criteria for including/not including things in the G>P chart. For example, why include ‘eo’ for the sake of ‘people’ and ‘leopard’ when these words are virtually one-offs? Or, if there is a good reason for including ‘eo’, why omit the two-phoneme pronunciation as in ‘video’ and ‘geography’, which is far more common? Why include ‘be’ and ‘de’ as spelling patterns (examples ‘beg’, ‘behind’, ‘desk’, ‘demand’ and ‘detour’) when the ‘b’ and ‘d’ don’t affect the sound of the ‘e’ and all the relevant sounds for ‘e’ are covered elsewhere in the chart? You may have very good reasons for what you include and what you omit, but these reasons aren’t always clear to me and they may not be to others. If you include a fair number of spelling patterns in the G>P chart which don't appear in the P>G chart, doesn't this undermine the notion of a reversible code?

I’ve done a quick count of the G>P tables in Letters and Sounds and think there are 94 graphemes and 192 alternative pronunciations as against your figures of 85 and 204. The total numbers are not very different, but I think the L and S grapheme selection makes more sense (e.g. no 'be' and 'de') and the alternatives are set out more helpfully, with a distinction being made between ‘correspondences found in many different words’ (134) and ‘correspondences found in some high-frequency words but not in many/any other words’ (58).

I’m not sure what you mean when you say that a G>P approach tends to result in ‘a word-by-word table’. Can you explain? How does this square with the fact that much less word-specific learning is needed for the G>P process of reading than for the P>G process of spelling?

Jenny C.

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Re: Establish an alphabetic code to avoid errors and confusion

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Fri Aug 30, 2013 3:35 pm

I think it is clear that we have a different view of showing the 'alphabetic code' to make it tangible and manageable.

In terms of decisions I make or words that I include, I am endeavouring to demonstrate that the English language has so many words with the same letter patterns which are actually pronounced differently that there needs to be an acknowledgement of that fact.

There are different ways of doing this and perhaps I do not do this clearly enough. I aim to present the 'alphabetic code' in such a way as to make it tangible and manageable (hence my preoccupation with the potential role of Alphabetic Code Charts for training purposes, for teachers, for learners, for parents for programme authors) but also indicating both very common letter/s-sound correspondences and rare correspondences which may be in commonly-used or commonly-known words. I am suggesting that multiple tables going from sound to print (but being strictly at the level of the phoneme and therefore not including the sound-units of /ks/, /gz/ and /yoo/ as in Letters and Sounds and the DfE tables) alongside tables going from print to sound is potentially very confusing and not so tangible to understand.

There are various features of the alphabetic code to consider including:

There can be very easy-to-decode letter/s-sound correspondences such as 'e' as code for /e/ as in egg and 'o' as code for /o/ as in octopus. See 'e', say /e/. See 'o', say /o/.

However, in rare words - but which are commonly 'known' - such as 'people' and 'leopard', these letters need to be pronounced differently. Also, as in 'video' and 'geography' as you mentioned above.

Whether or not I include a full range of words with the same letter patterns requiring different pronunciations such as 'people', 'leopard', 'video' and 'geography' - the point I am trying to show is that it the alphabetic code IS complicated and readers need to be AWARE of the ADVENT of these types of words.

So, on an Alphabetic Code Chart, the inclusion of letter/s-sound correspondences which are very common and straightforward is very helpful - but also the inclusion of some exemplar words which are well-known words, or commonly-used words, but with rare or unusual spelling patterns is also helpful. Such a chart is indicating the reality of the English spelling system.

An Alphabetic Code Chart from sounds to print can focus on the sounds of the English language (let's say around 47 to 50 units of sound) which more or less come to an end point when designed to be at the level of the smallest units of sound (phonemes with a small handful of combined phonemes) - whilst also showing very common letter patterns to represent those sounds with a few extra words to indicate that there are indeed further rare and unusual spelling patterns.

If you focus on going from graphemes, or letter patterns (and, in my way of thinking, graphemes are not really the same as 'letter patterns' but there is a role for looking at various 'letter patterns' because these may include more than one grapheme per se and there does come a point where word chunks or letter patterns are helpful or a development from phoneme-level emphasis), then where DO you draw the line?

You were mentioning the figures of 85+ for graphemes or letter patterns but there are many, many more patterns with a print to sound emphasis.

Previously, a contributor to the RRF message forum mentioned the figure of 350+ different correspondences in the English language when taking into account various specific words. (Perhaps our wonderful sleuth, Susan, can find the figures in our archives?) So, where does one draw an end?

Certainly, then, as people steeped in the field of phonics, we have to do various jobs:

1) Sort out some kind of 'alphabetic code' for the benefit of a wide range of people in such as way as to make it understandable and manageable to teach and to learn.

2) Bring realism into the picture to show how we can deal with the many words which may be commonly-used with rare code or commonly-known with rare code. This is very important because as people teach phonics and encounter words not embraced in our materials and guidance, they will view phonics as being very limited.

3) Provide methods and materials to support the teaching and learning of reading with alphabetic code information - in a wide range of circumstances.

4) At the same time, provide methods and materials to support the teaching and learning of spelling with alphabetic code information - in a wide range of circumstances.

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Re: Establish an alphabetic code to avoid errors and confusion

Post by Susan Godsland » Fri Aug 30, 2013 4:38 pm

Why modern synthetic phonics programmes are organised from sounds ->letters

http://www.spelfabet.com.au/2012/06/sounds-and-letters/
It's an almost impossible task to use letters and letter patterns to organise your thinking about spelling, as there are simply so many of them and their relationships with sounds are so complex.

After a while it starts to seem that there must be thousands of sounds in English, whereas there are only 44[1] . So let's try using sounds as our organising principle.

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Re: Establish an alphabetic code to avoid errors and confusion

Post by chew8 » Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:37 pm

Susan quotes this from 'Spelfabet':

'It's an almost impossible task to use letters and letter patterns to organise your thinking about spelling, as there are simply so many of them and their relationships with sounds are so complex.'

So where does that leave the notion of the reversibility of the code itself, which is one that I think most of us accept?

Imagine a situation where Person A, an excellent speller, writes a passage which contains all English phonemes and every possible spelling of each phoneme, including very rare spellings - and let’s also throw in words containing /kw/, /yoo/ and /ks/ sounds. Person B, an excellent reader, then has to read the passage aloud from cold, which he does perfectly. Surely B, who is going from letters to sounds, has to cope with exactly the same number of correspondences as A, who is going from sounds to letters? The total number of sounds may be quite a lot smaller than the total number of letters/letter-groups, but the total number of correspondences is the same in each direction - and the code is about correspondences.

I am starting to draft something to send to Debbie privately, but it may take a day or two as I am out tonight and have family coming for the day tomorrow.

Jenny C.

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Re: Establish an alphabetic code to avoid errors and confusion

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Fri Aug 30, 2013 10:07 pm

I was contacted by an adult - self-described as 'dyslexic' - who had discovered my alphabetic code charts and thought they were fantastic in making sense of the English alphabetic code. I was then asked if I would write a chart from spellings to sounds to help with pronunciation.

I thought about this for some time and eventually decided that there was a role to be played by some kind of information which 'indicated' that the reading process, print to sound, is not straightforward in the English language - thus, letter 'a' can be pronounced in different ways dependent upon the word the 'a' appears in - but also the letter 'a' in combination with other letters such as 'ar' and 'aw' - or even 'oa' - need to be pronounced in other ways.

Then, there are words with letter groups such as 'mb' where these letters are not forming one letter group - but need to decoded as separate sounds as in 'remem-ber' or 'cucum-ber' rather than as one sound as in 'comb' or 'plumber'. Thus, even a table which is grapheme to phoneme would not include words in which a letter pattern such as 'mb' is in common words but is two phonemes (not combined). That is why I used the description 'graphemes and letter patterns' in my pronunciation guide and not just 'graphemes'.

When designing resources and considering an overarching rationale for Phonics International and the Floppy's Phonics Sounds and Letters programme, I brought my own experience to bear by including words in sentences and texts from the outset which are longer, and may include plural endings, prefixes and suffixes, and rare or unusual spellings. These are drip-fed into the programmes so that reading and spelling is realistic and not artificially completely neat and tidy (meaning 'everything works' at a simple code level).

I promote the use of the Alphabetic Code Charts to provide an overview of the complexities even for children from the age of four and I promote the use of 'two-pronged systematic and incidental phonics teaching' so that adults can address wider language needs for both reading and spelling and so that they can address 'differentiation'. The teacher is free to introduce or refer to alphabetic code ahead of the planned programme of work - as required. The Alphabetic Code Chart is a very helpful visual aid for both the planned and the incidental teaching.

The downside of providing a systematic body of work and methods which make the 'simple code' stage of teaching one in which all the words work readily is the leap that is required from the 'simple, basic or transparent code' to the 'complex, extended or opaque code'. It IS a leap if both teachers and learners are not forwarned of the breadth of complexity they are faced with in natural language. Teachers should not, I suggest, shirk away from providing honest explanations of why a child's name does not work according to the information provided only by the 'simple' version of the English alphabetic code.

By a table or chart including only 'strictly' phonemes, we are neglecting to acknowledge those letter groupings which are in common words which require decoding with two phonemes such as the /ks/ and /yoo/ I keep mentioning. Thus, such a chart is arguably incomplete when thinking of even common graphemes such as 'x', 'ue', 'u', 'ew', 'u-e'. So a phoneme-only chart or table would not fully support the teacher or learner.

By creating an alphabetic code chart with only spelling patterns which are most commonly found and not providing examples of some very rare or unusual words, a fuller picture of the alphabetic code is not indicated.

Part of the rationale of the alphabetic code charts is that both teachers and learners will 'discover' more alphabetic code in wider reading and wider writing and this can be added onto those charts which are paper-based and/or A4 'quick' posters can be made for the classroom main display.

In addition to the discovered word/code, any other words of that spelling pattern can be included to make a spelling word bank on the classroom display.

It is the cumulating provision of sentences and texts and reading books which enable the beginner reader to gain experience in decoding. What we need, however, is fearless and robust readers - even from an early age - so that as they encounter words in wider reading or need naturally spoken words for their wider writing and independent creative writing, they know that the English alphabetic code is complex and they are going to need to do things like tweak pronunciations, and ask 'which spelling alternative' they need for the identified sounds in their words. Teachers need to be unafraid of pointing out children's spelling misunderstandings (I don't even want to say 'errors' because really this is about incomplete knowledge rather than 'mistakes') - and children need to be fully aware they need lots of help from teachers and parents to help them with spelling.

They need to know that they are going to need lots of help from supporting adults or experienced readers and writers for lots of years - not because they are not able children - but because the English alphabetic code is complicated for historic reasons.

Sadly, too many teachers expect children to be able to readily transfer any spellings from the lists they may have received for learning at home to wider writing, and blame 'phonics' if children write in phonically-plausible ways rather than with correct spelling.

I suggest that all teachers need to be trained fully in the English alphabetic code and the decoding and encoding skills - and that the perception of phonics as baby stuff needs widespread change so that adults and learners appreciate that phonics is adult stuff for reading and spelling new and unknown words.

Back to the title of the thread, however, I still maintain that the establishment of an alphabetic code chart from sounds to print is the simplest way to make some organised sense of the English writing system (and it should include the most common spelling alternatives plus indicate some rare ones) - and this would arguably lead to more understanding and accuracy in published material and a reduction in the number of errors which are currently very common.

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Susan Godsland
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Re: Establish an alphabetic code to avoid errors and confusion

Post by Susan Godsland » Mon Sep 30, 2013 6:36 pm

Well, if you're going to use an alphabet code chart, at least make sure it doesn't have any errors :sad: BTW, this same chart is on display in my local primary school.

http://lindsaysroadtoteaching.blogspot. ... l?spref=tw

Also, note the 'Guess the covered word' activity for 'teaching phonics' :???:

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maizie
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Re: Establish an alphabetic code to avoid errors and confusion

Post by maizie » Mon Sep 30, 2013 7:48 pm

Dreadfully 'busy' chart - difficult to work out, but please, Susan, what's the error?

She appears tp be linking to a US university classes' blogs about a book they are 'studying'. Scary reading!

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