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Mark,

I think your approach to Phonics is very solid. It's quite obvious you know what you're talking about. I just like some other poster said, I'm going to have to print out your post and read it more slowly to understand more clearly.

In my experience of trying to blend Japanese culture into Phonics and tweak Phonics rules to make them more interesting to the students, I have found that the standard approach to Phonics hasn't worked for me. What I've done is taken Phonics, adapted it to Japan's culture, taken into account what Japanese kids are interested in, and come up with an approach that seems to be working thus far in my schools. For example, I have a Phonics rule the kids busted a gut over. I was even questioned by a mother about it when her kid came home and told her about the rule. It's called the "Usotsuki mother." It's actually the Short Vowel rule, but if you think about it from the kanji standpoint, you might be able to figure why I call it this. I use all kinds of interesting things in class, anything from card tricks, mazes, word searches, etc. BTW, Mark, I've even used a couple of your alphabet mazes...thanks. :)

I think the problem with teaching Phonics in Japan is that not enough homework has been done on it. The average Japanese English teacher has heard the word before but knows nothing about it. Even if an ALT wants to teach it, they have the wind taken out of their sails almost from the very beginning because of the language barrier, lack of teaching experience in general (which brings about confidence issues), lack of Japanese cultural knowledge, no support from the Japanese teacher, and usually not even seen as a valued asset at school.

I think caring about wanting your students to learn how to read in the absense of memorizing is not enough. I really think the style of how Phonics is taught changes based upon the access you have to your students. I would dare say I speak for the average ALT when I say we think Phonics is a better solution to IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) or katakana superscipt, so the question is how to teach it?

For example, in Phonics, when you finish with individual sounds of the alphabet, you move onto Short Vowel sounds but when I teach Phonics to my Japanese students, I leave the short vowel for later. I move straight to the Silent E rule. I have three reasons for this:

1) It's the easiest Phonics rule to teach.
2) It's more logical to teach, considering students dont have to learn any additional sounds to learn this rule. All they need to know are the individual letter sounds.
3) I use the New Horizon textbook in school. Of the 956, or so, words JHS students have to memorize, 87 words fall under Silent E rule. Comparably so, 83 words fall under the Short Vowel rule, but with the Silent E rule, I don't have to teach any additional sounds.

I don't want to sound too confrontational or say your wrong in your approach to teaching Phonics, like I said before, I think your approach is solid. However, I think there are optional ways to teaching Phonics in a second language. That's my two cents.

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Tue Jun 19, 2007 12:39 pm
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MES-Zealot!

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patrick wrote:
Mark,

the "Usotsuki mother." It's actually the Short Vowel rule, but if you think about it from the kanji standpoint, you might be able to figure why I call it this. .


OK you lost me here. Can you explain or at least give another hint as to how kanji and usutsuki mother are related?


Tue Jun 19, 2007 1:33 pm
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funwithstories,

Usotsuki mother means "lying mother." I piggy-back this rule off the Silent E rule, that says when you add an E to the end of a Short Vowel C V C (Consonant and Vowels) pattern, the first vowel says it own name. In Japanese, consonant is 子音 and vowel is 母音. If you drop the second kanji, you are left with the kanjis for child and mother, so then the pattern is 子 母 子. Then, you draw a mother holding her two childrens' hands on either side of her. Then, you explain an honest mother would say her own name, but in the 'Usotsuki mother' pattern, the lying mother says another name, as in "hat or cap."

It's a kinda off the wall approach to Phonics, but it seems to stick in the children's heads. So much, in fact, on the reading tests all I have to do is point to the word the student said wrong and they self-correct themselves.

I hope you followed that explanation.

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Tue Jun 19, 2007 2:45 pm
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MES-Zealot!

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Patrick

Thanks. :D It's a very creative explanation. Once students can visualize this, I'm sure it is etched in their memory.

How do you introduce individual sounds? Do you also create some sort of a visual, or do you have anchor words that use that letter?


Tue Jun 19, 2007 3:29 pm
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MES-Zealot!

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funwithstories wrote:
Patrick

Thanks. :D It's a very creative explanation. Once students can visualize this, I'm sure it is etched in their memory.

How do you introduce individual sounds? Do you also create some sort of a visual, or do you have anchor words that use that letter?


There are all kinds of techniques I employ to teach individual sounds mnemonically. I know I have the anchoring technique as my final backup, so I try to find other ways to help the students remember. I sounds together, like F and V, to show they are the same sound but one's voiced and one's not. Then, there is the spiderman X, which is the sound his web makes when he shoots, and the keitai V, which is the sound of keitai ringing in manner mode (the students thought of this one). You can use all kinds of techniques and ways of helping the students remember.

I think the most important step is taking that risk of stepping out of the mold of being the stereotypical ALT and trying radical ideas. A JTE I used to hate teaching with and who thought Phonics was boring, we now enjoy teaching together.

I didn't want to go the traditional path, so I'm trying new things out. Plus, my kids love Eminem, so we're doing a rappin' thing right now. It's amazing the things you can do in class with a JTE who is onboard and a class who know their ideas count.

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Tue Jun 19, 2007 3:36 pm
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