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Reading Is Fundamental
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Reading Is Fundamental

Watch this page for updates on the Parent Reading Workshop and the

Reading Class for both students and adults that start in the Fall of 2015.

 

English


English is a splendid language. It has the ability to adopt new words into its vocabulary more fluidly than any other language. But, that also makes it a little hard to learn. English is also very old. Most historians put Old English ( or Anglo-Saxon) as around 1500 years old. That is old. Naturally, something that old will have developed characteristics that make it difficult to master. Add to that fact that English has over two million words and you are left with a very, very big linguistic puzzle.

But, thankfully, 98% of English words actually do conform to several rules and regulations. These are in the form of phonograms and spelling rules. (Also, knowledge of correct grammar is very important to understanding how to read and write English words.)

There are 31 Spelling Rules and 74 Basic Phonograms. (There are several more Advanced Phonograms which are in a limited amount of words, but are still important to know for vocabulary’s sake.)

Most of our language’s spelling is based on Latin. However, our spoken language is based on Anglo-Saxon and French. (Anglo-Saxon is of Germanic origin.) The frustrating differences between our sounds and our writing is because our written and spoken language is based on different parent-tongues.

The 31 Spelling Rules help govern how things should be spelled. There are absolute rules and there are rules that do have some exceptions. (Again, being that English is based on so many different languages and is so old, the reason for why a word is pronounced or spelled in a certain way may have been lost or forgotten. But, relative to how many words can be explained by the rules, the amount of exceptions is very small. Many of the exceptions, however, are very common words. Since they are common, we see them every day and it feels like English has
more exceptions than it really does. It is important to know, though, that our most common words are also our oldest words and date back almost to the beginning of our language.)

I know when I was learning to read, write and spell, my main frustration was “why is it this way?” Now, while there are rules, the specific reason why may be unclear. It is like Baseball and Hockey in a way, though, because both of these sports have a lot of rules and the reason for the rule may not seem apparent. And, maybe, the reason has even been forgotten as both of these sports are quite old. But, you have to know and abide by the rules to play the game and you
have to do the same with your language, English.

The most basic elements of our language are not the letters A through Z. It is sounds. Because we do not say words with letters. Which is plain to see when you start singing the Alphabet Song. Very few of the letters even make a sound that is anywhere close to their names. B does not say /bee/, B says /b/. So, knowing the names of the letters is useless to reading. We have to know the SOUNDS!

In this way, the Phonograms, to me, are the most helpful part. English has only 45 sounds, but these sounds are represented on paper in over 100 ways. Sounds are expressed on paper by individual letters or by combinations of letters, and these are called "Phonograms."

Phonogram literally means a picture of a sound. It is how we express a sound on paper. The letter (phonogram) A, for instance, has 3 different sounds. These can be heard in words like Apple, Hate, Mama. Obviously the same letter A, but very different sounds in each word.

Multi-letter phonograms, such as CH, are almost always ignored in most phonics- based curricula and, even when it is not, it is only taught as having one sound. CH represents 3 sounds, /ch/ as in Church, /k/ as in School and /sh/ as in Chef. The usage depends on the origin of the word: (/ch/ for Latin based, /k/ for Greek and /sh/ for french.)

Many ask why do we have different ways to spell the same sound. That is a fine question, but the reason goes back to English’s history. It is old and from many different languages.

Also, though, if every word that sounded the same was spelled the same, then we would not be able to tell the words apart. (Aunt, Ant, To, Two and Too, etc.) Also, words that do not sound the same, but could potentially be spelled the same would lead to confusion when reading. (Know could be spelled N-O-W, but then it would get confused with Now.)

How we learn:


There are three ways that we take in information.
Kinesthetically (Physically moving or doing)
Auditory (Sound, Listening)
Visual (Seeing)

We all need to learn through each of these media, but we all usually have a dominant way we learn. Finding out how you, or your student, needs to learn is imperative.

However, if a curricula addresses all these forms of learning, rather than focusing on just one or two like most curricula do, every child will have an equal chance to learn.

There are two main types of learners: Intuitive and Logical/Literal. (What I call 2D and 3D.)

Intuitive learners read a page and are sounding out the words as they go along. They are comfortable on a flat page and they understand what to do. They also do not question as much as they intuitively understand frustrating concepts without realizing it. For instance, the letter (phonogram) S. S has 2 sounds, /s - z/. That second sound, /z/, is never taught, however. Intuitive learners don't necessarily catch the difference and are not hindered by it because S is a voiced and unvoiced pair. Which means the sounds are made the same way in the mouth. The only difference is with the /z/ sound you activate your voice box.

Logical/literal learners, however, when they are taught only one sound for S assume that there is ONLY one sound for S, which is completely logical. So they are mystified as soon as they start reading by simple words like His, Is, As and most words that are plural. (Places, Faces.) They are not being taught fairly. They are doing what they are told and the system is telling them they have special needs! How ridiculous is that?


A note about Dyslexia.


It is not a disease or something to overcome. It is something to embrace and to understand. It is a type of thought processing. There is nothing wrong with them. In fact, people that are labeled as Dyslexic often have some of the greatest talents and brain power out there. But, the system is not designed for them, the system is designed for intuitive learners. Give them a logical, step-by-step program and it will help them to understand themselves and their language.

Also, where Dyslexia really effects reading is when a person with that type of brain processor is a 3D thinker. They can look at something and their mind can pick it up and move it around and look at it. But they do the same things to words that they do to everything else, and sometimes they put the word back down in the wrong order, so it looks foreign. Learning that that is what they are doing helps them to realize when they are doing it, and they can learn to master it. Again, not a disease, it is just how their brain processes information. It is something that gives
them an edge in things like mechanics and art because they can see the whole painting or the whole engine working without having to take it apart, but it is a hinderance when it is not addressed properly in reading.

Kari Erdly, Families of Faith Christian Academy International Reading Coach