Strategy 3

3. Teachers develop students' phonic skills through systematic instruction on sound-symbol relationships, spending appropriate time to meet individual needs.

In order to learn to read English, a learner must be able to connect particular letters and letter combinations with the component sounds (phonemes) of familiar spoken words. To do this, an English language learner must:

  • have a basic oral vocabulary of familiar English words,
  • be able to accurately perceive these English words as a sequence of distinct phonemes,
  • recognize letters in both their upper and lower case forms,
  • associate particular letters and letter combinations of the Roman alphabet with the phonemes they represent in English,
  • decode and identify the spoken English word that is represented by a combination of printed letters, and
  • practice and develop the ability to automatically identify English words seen frequently in print.

Students must also be aware of the various and most frequent letter combinations that represent particular sounds as in meet, mete, and meat or fold, phone and tough.

Effective teachers are aware that in some languages like Spanish, decoding words is much easier than in English because the relationships between sounds and letters are more consistent. This may cause students to try to pronounce silent letters like the l in walk and talk and should when they read these familiar words.

Teachers, reading coaches, and administrators are aware that ELLs may need more time than English-proficient students to master the phonological and vocabulary knowledge upon which phonics instruction builds.

Effective teachers adapt and tailor their phonics instruction to emphasize the sounds that affect particular language groups in the class. When teachers model their writing for students, teachers think out loud, explicitly discussing the relationship between sounds and letters.

They say things like:

I'm writing a story about my friend Libby.
I wrote the beginning of the title, My Friend...
See if you can help me spell my friend's name: Libby.
Listen to the first sound /l/. What letter is that?
The next sound in her name is /i/. What letter makes the /i/ sound?

We've made a list of words we know that have the sound /sh/.
Let's look at how the sound is spelled.
What letters make the /sh/ sound in she and show and shopping and shell?

Yes, usually, we write /sh/ with s-h in most words.
But here's an exception. Something is different.
What about these words: Chicago, chef, machine.
How is the /sh/ sound spelled in these words?