The idea that you have to be able to perceive a sound in order to produce it is somewhat intuitive. No? I’m referring to what is known as the perception – production link. It is a much-discussed topic in L2 teaching literature, and the most influential speech theories, Speech Learning Model, the Perceptual Assimilation Model, … Read more

Mom and Baby Classes

I came across a quote from Dr. Silvana Montanaro, the founder of Montessori Schools, the other day. I was looking for something else, but the quote is important for what we do at Aka-Kara English. She wrote: …a course was recently developed, consisting of playing English language cassettes to infants. When, at the age of … Read more

What b4 does…

For the last I don’t know how long, I have finished my posts with “… and that is what b4 does.” I thought this was clever. I recently learned just what “that” is was not always clear. This is about “that.” The first thing a native speaking child learning any language learns is the sounds … Read more

What b4 does

For the last I don’t know how long, I have finished my posts with “… and that is what b4 does.” I thought this was clever. I recently learned what “that” is was not always clear. This is about “that.” The first thing a native speaking child learning any language learns is the sounds of … Read more

The Sounds and Reading

Reading involves the ability to pronounce words (silently in one’s head) quickly and accurately and to read unknown words by decoding them. In alphabetic languages like English, readers link the letters (written units that represent sounds, like c or ck) to the phonemes (sounds of a language, e.g., /k/). This happens in two ways. One … Read more

Confirmed by Neuroscience

Journal: Frontiers in Systems of Neuroscience: (2013)  doi: Title: Learning, neural plasticity and sensitive periods: implications for language acquisition, music training and transfer across the lifespan Authors: White, Hutka, Williams Moreno This article is about brain plasticity. It examines how and why humans experience periods when learning is easier and quicker that during other … Read more

Word Learning and Short-Term Memory

The conclusion to an article I recently read states “the ability to discriminate non-native phonemes is crucial to word learning in a nonnative language.” Nothing new there. I’ve been saying that for years. The research has been there for years. It was an interesting article, however, involving over 100 native English speaking children and 9 … Read more

Phonemic Awareness: 6 Activities

Research has shown that phonemic awareness is the single strongest indicator of a child’s success at learning to read an alphabetic script. Strong phonemic awareness, when used to segment and blend sounds, helps children decode and understand what they are reading. Phonemic awareness allows readers to build another important element of reading: phonics. Phonics (the … Read more

Adult L2 Readers

This post is about an article I recently read. It is titled: Phonemic Awareness and Reading Comprehension among Japanese Adult Learners of English. It was published in, Open Journal of Modern Linguistics, 4, in 2014 ( The authors are L. Yoshikawa and J. Yamashita.   The purpose of this study was to see whether phoneme … Read more

Phonemic Awareness is not Phonics

Phonics, phonological awareness and phonemic awareness are often confused. While these terms are related, they’re not the same thing. Here’s a look at what they are and how they work together to get kids ready to read.   Phonological Awareness   Phonological awareness covers many skills. (One of them is phonemic awareness.) It isn’t based … Read more

Brain-scans / Phonemes / Children Reading L2

The connection between phonemic awareness and reading is well documented. (There is a list of articles on the topic below).   It is not clear which processes underlie this connection, so researchers are trying to figure it out. An article I recently read used event-related potentials (ERPs) to investigate the speech processing mechanisms for common … Read more

A TLT Article

  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 … Read more

It Is Not Difficult

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 … Read more

It happens again and again.

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 … Read more

Neuroscience and Reading

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 … Read more

L & R Song

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.      

The Cognitive Advantages of Bilingualism 2

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 … Read more

The Cognitive Advantages of Bilingualism

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 … Read more

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