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Phonemic Awareness Is Not Phonics

Phonics is teaching readers to connect the sounds of spoken language to letters. This is NOT the same thing as phonemic awareness. The terms are not interchangeable.    Phonemic awareness (PA) is the ability to hear and manipulate the sounds in spoken words. It involves hearing language at the phonemic level.   Phonics involves the sounds and letters. […]

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  The May / June 2018 edition of The Language Teacher (TLT) had an interesting feature article by Wendy Tada of Hyogo University of Teacher Education. Titled “Understanding Pre-Service Teachers’ Familiarity and Interest in Phonics and Potential Implications,” the article, discusses future English language teachers’ familiarity with phonics, and relates this to the English education […]

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I was talking to a colleague the other day. “I think I finally get what you are talking about,” she said. You might think this would make me happy, but it had the opposite effect. A year or so ago, she attended a presentation I gave, and we have talked about my project a number […]

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It happened again.   Me: My project has to do with phonemic awareness.   Other Person: Phonics.   Me: No, phonemic awareness, not phonics.   OP: (blank look)   Me: Phonics is the sound to letter correspondence. Phonemic awareness is only the sounds.   OP: (blank look with new element of suspicion)   Me: When […]

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The International Journal of Behavioral Development had a special section on literacy development with a focus on neuroscientific methods. One paper was of particular relevance to the theme of this blog, Brain event-related potentials to phoneme contrasts and their correlation to reading skills in school-age children. It was written by a group of authors I […]

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Learners have to hear the sounds to learn them. The pics below are from a video that emphasizes the L and R sounds. Click here to watch and listen.      

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This is my second post on the so-called bilingual advantage. Research has shown that bilinguals have certain enhanced cognitive abilities. To efficiently manage two languages, bilinguals must continually employ their cognitive control functions, which includes the ability to inhibit or ignore certain things and focus on others. This leads to what is called “improved executive […]

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In the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Wittgenstein wrote, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” This is one of the few things he wrote that I can understand, but starting with a quote from Wittgenstein is impressive, no? Language teachers, I suppose, would agree with this premise. If our worlds are limited by […]

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            I’ve been told that my posts are too long and too academic. It has taken awhile, but I’m starting to get it. This will be shorter and sweeter.              The biggest cause of communication breakdowns when two non-native speakers communicate in English is mispronounced or misunderstood phonemes. This claim […]

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It happens all the time. I say learners can learn the difficult sounds of English through exposure to video clips, and someone argues they can’t and cite a study by Patricia Kuhl. It is an all too common misunderstanding. In the study referred to, 9-month old American infants were exposed to native Mandarin Chinese speakers […]

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