General Teaching Council Northern Ireland

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Phonic reading scheme aims to improve literacy


Irish News

A new phonic reading scheme has been developed to address concerns with the high level of literacy failure.

See and Sound is a phonic storybook series which helps reinforce the basic sounds in words. The series has been written, published and printed in Northern Ireland.

After years of teaching in special needs, mainstream education and working within the Travelling community, the pair behind the scheme became frustrated at the lack of natural transference of taught sounds.

Concerned with the high level of literacy failure and not being able to help one particular child, the two teachers behind the project set upon their “labour of love”.

They said by chance they came across Ignacio Estrada who has been quoted as saying: “If a child can’t learn the way we teach, we must learn [as teachers] to teach the way they can learn”.

In the English language, there are only 44 distinct sounds but more than 200 spelling variations of these sounds.

See and Sound books enhance reading for pupils who do not find it a chore by tuning into fluency and it helps those pupils whose previous or ongoing tuition is failing or has failed.

There are 42 books in the series dealing with the basic to the more complex sounds.

The books help with the transition of sounds taught in phonic/sound lessons to everyday reading. The targeted sounds are highlighted in blue to help the children see the sound – hence See and Sound.

The team behind the series say they believe that it acts “as a scaffold for reading and is the missing link between phonics teaching and reading”.

More often than not, they say, children can break down sounds in single words but do not or cannot apply this to larger amounts of texts, adding that they believe the reason behind this is that children cannot see the sound.

To make it simple, they coloured them – in a simple, logical and easy-to-use phonic scheme.

“When we read we may not realise but we are decoding a sequence of sounds that have been encoded by visual symbols, written from left to right. Hence, we are using conceptual understanding,” author Liz Devlin said.

“However, without clear explanation and solid foundation some intellectual processes may get confused. See and Sound books help to eradicate the confusion.”

See and Sound books work in conjunction with any phonic scheme – Phonographix, Sounds-Write, Jolly Phonics and Linguistic Phonics.

“We have adopted a whole new language approach to the books, which contain real stories with fun illustrations,” Ms Devlin said.

“They are levelled in accordance with reading recovery methods and provide a simple but very effective method of reinforcing sounds. The books can be used individually to reinforce certain sounds or as a scheme to guide the teacher or parent through the basic sounds of the English language.”


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