Teaching ESL

Phonics in Elementary School (grade 6)
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Author:  Michael.G [ Fri Apr 30, 2010 3:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Phonics in Elementary School (grade 6)

Hi everyone,

I have been frequenting this forum for a long time, but this is my first post. Nice to meet you all.

I teach English to 5th and 6th graders in Japanese elementary schools. I want to start teaching phonics this year, but I am not sure where to start.

My students have English class every week this year. This is a big change, since they only had it once a month up until now. It didn't seem feasible to teach them how to read when I taught them so rarely, but now that I teach them so often, phonics seems pretty important.

The English curriculum used by my schools ("Eigo Note") is designed to familiarize students with the alphabet, but not to teach how to read or write. But I would like my students to learn to read and write basic words and sentences. To that end, I am thinking of spending about 5 minutes at the beginning of each lesson on phonics, for 35 lessons.

Funfonix.com has a lot of great materials, including the phonics books. The level is good for my students. But I don't know how to start building a 35 hour mini-curriculum.

Is anyone else teaching in the same situation? I'm looking forward to hearing everyone's suggestions!

Author:  mesmark [ Mon May 10, 2010 6:55 pm ]
Post subject: 

I think it's really helpful to start with a fun and useful reading base. A good phonics introduction can do that. I'd just warn that it's important to make it fun and motivating. Don't try to do too much and have kids think they can't read before they are even asked to.

I do 3-4 letters a day with groups at that age. I spend about 5 minutes just going over each letter and in the beginning, I don't really even bother with games. I do the phonics section about midway through the lesson. We'll review something old, play a little review game, do the phonics/reading lesson of the day, and then move on to today's main target.

Once we get through hard consonants and short vowels, I'll practice 3-4 letter words for a couple lessons and then consonant blends for a few lessons. If it's easy enough for them, I then move on to consonant digraphs (ch, sh, th, ng, ... ) With the time that you have, you might be able to cover long vowels with silent e (cake, bike, home, ...) or vowel dipthongs/digraphs. Just the silent e might be enough to really drive home the message of a phonemic code to English spellings and show them an importance of order in regards to spelling.

Sorry, so short and abrupt but I have a class coming in 4 minutes and I gotta ...

Author:  mesmark [ Mon May 10, 2010 9:57 pm ]
Post subject: 


I'm back.

All I really have to add to the above reply is to set your goals. What do you think is a reasonable goal for the amount of material that can be learned in those 35 lessons? Every situation will be a little different. Students are different, class dynamics, class sizes, can you give them homework, how much time you can use per class, etc.

I tend to err on the "less material, more practice, stronger foundation" side. That way we can do more with what we learn, have more fun using the target language and hopefully internalize instead of memorize. So, if I made a general suggestion, it would be 10-15 lessons on hard cons., short vowels, and reading words in that grouping. 10 lessons on cons. digraphs, reviewing and working with words up to that level, 5 lessons on long vowels with silent e. I might add some sight words in toward the end just to let them know that not all words follow these "rules", but even in the "exceptions" most parts of the word, follow the "rules". (It's also a good chance to talk about how English borrows words and borrows spellings, sushi is not *sooshy.)

Anyway, once you have your goal, you just need to work backwards and figure out how much you need to cover in each less, remembering to allot more time towards the middle to end for practice and review activities.

Author:  Kiwione [ Tue May 11, 2010 2:01 pm ]
Post subject: 

I was told not to teach phonics to elementary kids (by the prefecture BOE) but I know some teachers swear by it.
They will go over the writing thing in much more detail in JHS so as Mark said, don't push it too hard. Teach some of the basics and play some kind of games/activities to get them using letters (prepare them for JHS)

Author:  Michael.G [ Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:29 pm ]
Post subject: 


I'm sorry I'm so late in thanking you for replies. Your advice was helpful, Mark and Kiwi.

I've started off by teaching four or five letters a lesson. I teach the letter, the sound, and two words; e.g., A - alligator, apple, B - ball, bear, etc. (I'm using Mark's alphabet cards.) I was surprised how easily my students memorized the words.

Once I get through the entire alphabet I'll do some reading practice, and maybe teach consonant digraphs. I've decided against making them write sentences that they can't yet read, since as Kiwi said I don't want to push them too hard.

I'll report back on how things go. Thanks!!

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