Friday, November 11, 2011

How Do I Teach Literacy? (Part 2)

I just returned home from six back-to-back trips, most trips affording me just a couple days in between each trip to literally unpack and pack at the same time. As always, I am privileged to meet a variety of people in my travels. My work has provided me opportunities to interact with individuals who are passionate about improving the quality of life for those they serve. I am grateful to have opportunities to learn from so many dedicated individuals.

My most recent trip was to Southern California where I conducted a training for ESL teachers at a community college. I was impressed with their attentiveness and their teachable nature. At one point during the training, I saw an ESL student peering through the window into the classroom. She kept looking at me and at the board where I was writing. After this took place for several minutes, I finally opened the door and asked the student if there was something I could help her with. She replied in her broken English, "No, I just want to learn what you're teaching." She had seen what I was writing on the board and was intrigued by what she was learning.

The skill I was teaching was the soft sounds of c and g. The basic principles are as follows:

• When c is followed by the vowels e (ce) or i (ci) , the sound of c changes from /k/ to /s/ (e.g., cent; cite). C will have the /s/ sound about 99 percent of the time in this construction.
• When g is followed by the vowels e (ge) or i (gi), the sound of g changes from /g/ to /j/ (e.g., gem; gin). This new sound occurs about 85 percent of the time in this construction.
• When a consonant plus c or g comes between the first vowel and the silent e, the two consonants
will cause the first vowel to be short (e.g., dance, prince, plunge).
• English words never end in the letter j. When the sound /j/ is heard at the end of a word, it will always
be spelled -ge. Words with a long vowel sound will end with just the -ge spelling (e.g., cage). Words with a
short vowel sound will end with a -dge spelling (e.g., judge; bridge).

(To learn additional skills, click here.)

Among the teachers and volunteers I have trained and the students I have taught, I have witnessed great interest in literacy strategies. I have had several friends express interest in learning how to teach people to read. I revisited a blog post I wrote last year entitled "How Do I Teach Literacy?" I shared a link in the blog post that teaches strategies for teaching basic literacy, and I'll share it again here. Some other thoughts are found in my blog posts entitled Adult Education and Family Literacy Week 2010 and Adult Education and Family Literacy Week 2011: Teaching Struggling Readers.

What resources have you found helpful in your literacy efforts?

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