Saturday, May 17, 2014

2014 May 17 | Cecilia Salzer | Teaching Phonics to English Language Learners

In May of 2014, Nagasaki JALT visited Nagasaki Junior College and were treated to a lecture by Cecilia "Sash" Salzer on the methodology for Teaching Phonics to ELLs (English Language Learners). The talk included extensive background on the presenter as well as some tips and ideas for introducing phonics to children.

Sash's background is that she was raised bilingual and became a Japanese teacher early on at the Yokosuka Naval Base. Since then, she is now a classroom teacher for EFL/ESL learners and has taught at all levels; K-12, college, and adult learners alike. Part of our workshop included breaking into groups and introduce each other for about 5 minutes worth.

From there, Sash discussed child development and the basis for teaching phonics in English - the parts-to-whole approach. She also covered learning objectives - children vs. adults and how they learn differently.

----- The following are notes from the presentation -----

Piaget - cognitive learning - (check Sash's Blog - we need a link!)
Lev Vygotsky - Learning happens through social interaction (late 70's early 80's) language an cognitive skills develop together - 

Zone of Proximal Development - what you can do with help - where guided learning takes place.
  • What i can do
  • What i can possibly do (with help) - ZPD
  • What i can't do
She also covered Krashen's theory of SLA (second language acquisition).
  • Acquisition - Learning Hypothesis
  • Monitor Hypothesis
  • Natural Order Hypothesis
  • Input Hypothesis
  • Affective Filter Hypothesis
She also covered Bloom's Taxonomy - K C A A S E
  • Knowledge (What? / Who?)
  • Comprehension (When? / Where?)
  • Application (Why? How?)
  • Analysis (Why? How?)
  • Synthesis (Why? How?)
  • Eval. (Why? How?)
Sash continued on with her comparison of children v. adult learning styles.

One comment given by a participant: the ZPD is reached more by the educator for young learners, but for adult learners can manage their own ZPD if they are aware of their learning ability.

After an extensive background, we then moved on to how to teach phonics in general. She brought out that in this methodology, the letter "A" is not where things begin. Before you introduce the alphabet, begin with "This is a pen." (Comparison of Japanese syllable count (7) vs. English syllable count (4) for this phrase.)

Reception - Listening/Identification
Production - Speaking/Recall (vocabulary, simple sentences, create own sentences)

Use comprehensible input - things with which students can connect.
Vocabulary development should be connected.
Scaffold student learning - all materials should be connected.

She made a nice comparison of Japanese and English from a syllabic perspective
  • Japanese - Mora-based syllables
  • Five vowel sounds
  • Monotone language
  • High and low pitches
  • English - Time-stressed
  • Five written vowels, 19 vowel sounds
  • Not a tonal language
  • Rhythm and time stressed

Also compared pragmatics (gestures, facial expressions, physical attributes of communication) between the two.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (a recommended book for phonics-based teaching - need author and citation)

Sash guide us in preparing lessons that can focus on phonemes. We also covered the order in which things should be covered:
  • Separately teach the vowels - short sounds first.
  • Then long vowels
  • Then consonants
  • Then blending consonants and vowels
Don't forget these items as well:
  • Dipthongs - oy, oi, ow, ou
  • Digraphs - Beginning ch, sh, th, wh, ph, qu, kn, wr
  • Digraphs - Ending - ch, sh, th, ng, mb, ss, dge, tch
Sash also covered some advanced phonics topics including:
  • Graphemes - /s/ (the sound) -> the writing --> s, es, ss
    • 45 years of research showing that graphemes knowledge is necessary for reading comprehension. read vs. readbass vs. bass
  • Advanced Phonics - Morphemes
  • Decoding - once the code is broken, the message is revealed - students need to learn decoding or breaking down of the word into it's basic parts.
In all, there was a lot of material to cover in a short amount of time, but Sash did a good job of putting out her ideas and research. She really knows her phonics.

----- JALT Announcements -----
Total attendees: 9
JALT Members: 4
Other attendees: 5

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