Reading is described by some people as the reconstruction and interpretation of meanings behind printed symbols. Others say it is the process of understanding written language. These explanations of reading are accurate. The main point is that comprehension of written material is the purpose of reading. In fact, we consider reading comprehension and reading to be synonymous because when understanding breaks down, reading has not occurred.
The two keys to teach your students how to read:
- Phonemic awareness.
Phonics is one method of teaching children how to read. Children are taught how to “sound out” new words by learning the following items:
- Consonant letters’ sounds: b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, z
- Blend sounds: br, cr, dr, fr, gr, pr, tr, wr, bl, cl, fl, gl, pl, sl, scr, str, sm, sn,sp, sc, sk,
- Short vowel sounds: a, e, i, o, u
- Digraph sounds: sh, ch, th, wh
- Double vowel sounds: ai, ea, ee, oa
- Other double vowel sounds: oi, oo, ou, ow
- Silent /e/
- /R/ controlled vowel sounds: ar, er, ir, or, ur
Phonics is a series of rules that children must memorize and apply when they are sounding out new words. For example:
- Children are taught a rule, i.e. silent /e/,
- Next, they practice reading words with silent /e/.
- Then, they do skill sheets at their desk highlighting the silent /e/ rule.
Children must learn letter sounds to an automatic level – they must be able to see the letter(s) and say the sound immediately.
Phonemic awareness is the understanding that spoken words and syllables are themselves made up of sequences of elementary speech sounds. This understanding is essential for learning to read an alphabetic language because it is these elementary sounds or phonemes that letters represent. Without phonemic awareness, phonics can make no sense, and the spellings of words can be learned only by memorization.
Elements of phonemic awareness:
- Rhyming: Children can recognize rhymes easily when they hear it.
- Hearing syllables: Children can break up words into syllables.
- Blending: Children can blend phonemes to make words (c / a / t).
- Segmentation: Children hear and say the word sound by sound (ba/na/na).
P.S. For further reading on teaching your students how to read in English”, you can get my FREE eBook “Teaching Beginning Reading”
It is a practical guide for EFL teachers to teaching beginning reading and getting their students to read in English with ease and as quickly as possible. This guide tackles the following main ideas:
* What is reading?
* The main approaches to teaching beginning reading.
* The stages of teaching beginning reading.
* Sample activities for beginning reading.
* Some important guidelines for teachers to follow before beginning to teach reading in English.
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