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Knowing what to do


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Last updated 26 October 2012 15:28 by NZTecAdmin

Instruction (based on individual assessment) picks up on and extends the activities used for assessment. Bear in mind that, for some learners, phonemes may be too difficult. You may need to start with developing phonological awareness by working with syllable segmenting and rhyming, moving on to smaller units of sound within words when learners are able to distinguish sounds at the broader level.

Focus on one or two aspects of phonological awareness at a time. Although these are oral rather than written tasks, using letters occasionally as well can help to reinforce the connections between hearing sounds and recognising them in print. Teaching should be done within the context of real activities the learners are carrying out in their course rather than in isolated activities.

  • Focus on rhyming words used during general discussions and instruction, and encourage learners to listen for the rhyming used in rap and hip hop music.
  • Compose a group rap orally, playing with the options for rhyming the lines.
  • Focus on syllable segmenting and blending activities, using words that are of high interest to the learners, such as dinner, computer, newspaper, cafeteria, marae, mechanical, polytech, whakapapa, rapping, newspaper, hamburger. Say a word as syllable segments (news/pa/per, com/pu/ter) and have the learners repeat the word back, first in the segments then as the whole word. Learners can take turns to think of and segment multisyllabic words for others to repeat then blend.
  • Sound blending: using words that have come up during a lesson, say the sounds of a word and have the learners put them together as a single word; for example, “What word do these sounds make: /m/ /i/ /x/?”. For this activity, use words that are regular – that is, words where the letter sounds are directly related to the spelling (/s/ /l/ /ee/ /p/ rather than /c/ /ou/ gh/).
  • Notice learners’ spelling attempts when they write and identify the sounds they are hearing as they approximate spellings. For example, if a learner writes jumt for jumped, it shows they are hearing and identifying four of the five phonemes in the word. Talk about the sounds the learner hears in the head when they are about to write a word – but don’t worry about spelling at this point.
  • Note that there are many words in te reo Māori and other alphabetic languages that lend themselves well to phonological awareness activities and capitalise on learners’ specific interests. The point of learning in this starting point is for learners to listen for and identify the units of sound in words. If learners have this skill in one language, show them they can transfer their awareness to English sounds.

For further examples of teaching activities, see the publications by Nicholson and Henry.34 See also the appendix on teaching decoding in Teaching Adults to Read with Understanding: Using the Learning Progressions.

34 Nicolson, 2005; Henry, 2003.

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