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List of truly non-phonetic words?


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The word 'the' is phonetically regular, not a true sight word.  It has the hard 'th' sound in this, that, there them, thus, thou, thee (as opposed to the soft th sound in thing, thistle, thimble, think, thank )

 

The 'e' in the word 'the' makes the 'uh' sound which is one of the many sounds an 'e' makes in American English.  For example, the words elephant, telephone, excellent,.

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In regards to sight words, how do you address them in readers such as Nora Gaydos and Bob Books? We are using Ordinary Parents Guide and they've only introduced a few, but both Bob books and Nora Gaydos introduce more words. Right now I explain them phonetically and tell dd what they say.

 

That's exactly what you should do. It is not necessary for children to memorize words purely by sight, as only a handful cannot be read phonetically.

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That's exactly what you should do. It is not necessary for children to memorize words purely by sight, as only a handful cannot be read phonetically.

This is what we've done so far. We just bought a second collection of Bob books (1/2 set 2 and all of set 3) and there are more sight words. But dd seems to pick it up. We know that "the" has the th sound and she was able to decode "this" by remembering how the sounds initially.

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This is what we've done so far. We just bought a second collection of Bob books (1/2 set 2 and all of set 3) and there are more sight words. But dd seems to pick it up. We know that "the" has the th sound and she was able to decode "this" by remembering how the sounds initially.

Based on this thread, I'd say there can't be many real sight words. We own a Sight Word Bingo game, but really, most of those are a joke. What they actually are is, "high frequency words." I think the terms get used interchangeably and should not.

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Based on this thread, I'd say there can't be many real sight words. We own a Sight Word Bingo game, but really, most of those are a joke. What they actually are is, "high frequency words." I think the terms get used interchangeably and should not.

I agree. Sight words and high frequency words do seem to be used interchangeably. I find that most sight words we come across Dd Has already learned to read phonetically.

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I think this article answers the exact question you are asking.  :)

 

All About Learning - Sight Words Article

I wonder why they put "very" on the list?

 

I mean, the "y" sound at the end is found in lots of words (happy, baby). What is unique about very?

 

As for "buy" LOE teaches a phonogram "bu" (silent u) to explain some words like build. And they also have "gu" for words like "guest" and "guess." I added those to our flash cards.

 

I personally taught "ai" as having two sounds. "ai" as in "braid" and short e as in "said" and "again." If memory serves, those are the only two weird ones.

(edited: other weird ones for ai included against, aisle, and plaid. Thank you, The ABC's and All Their Tricks)

 

I added some other weird ones to other cards as well.

 

Here are some charts I used to help make our cards: http://www.thephonicspage.org/Phonics%20Lsns/Resources/letter%20sound%20read%20new%202011.pdf

 

http://www.thephonicspage.org/Phonics%20Lsns/Resources/sound%20letter%20spell1.pdf

Those charts have been so useful. I think user Elizabeth B runs the page.

Edited by heartlikealion
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.

 

I personally taught "ai" as having two sounds. "ai" as in "braid" and short e as in "said" and "again." If memory serves, those are the only two weird ones.

 

 

 

 

'Ai' makes the short 'e' sound in American English rather than a long 'a' sound quite often.  Said, again, mountain, captain, fountain, vinaigrette, chair, pair, stair, flair, fair.

 

The only really weird one is plaid.  We use a short 'a' sound in that situation but it's used infrequently enough and is so specific that context usually is enough for some kids to figure it out.

 

 

 

 

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'Ai' makes the short 'e' sound in American English rather than a long 'a' sound quite often.  Said, again, mountain, captain, fountain, vinaigrette, chair, pair, stair, flair, fair.

 

The only really weird one is plaid.  We use a short 'a' sound in that situation but it's used infrequently enough and is so specific that context usually is enough for some kids to figure it out.

 

 

 

 

That must be a regional thing.  I am from the midwest, and I say all of those words with a long a sound.   (With the exception of Said) 

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In regards to sight words, how do you address them in readers such as Nora Gaydos and Bob Books? We are using Ordinary Parents Guide and they've only introduced a few, but both Bob books and Nora Gaydos introduce more words. Right now I explain them phonetically and tell dd what they say.

That is what I do, you can see explanations on my sight word page, linked earlier. But, I have them sound them out phonetically after teaching the rule or pattern or exception and have the student sound it out.

 

The only ones I teach are one, once, and eye. I teach one and once together and note that the n and ce are regular at least!

 

I am super paranoid against sight words after all my remedial students, though!!

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'One', 'eye', 'the', and...'of'?

 

Not strictly related but I stumbled on the article High-Frequency Lie about sight words. I haven't read all of it just yet, but thought it might be of interest to those who are reading this topic.

of is like is and as, consonant pair, plus schwa like was. The is totally phonetic before words starting with a vowel, schwa before words starting with a consonant.

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'Ai' makes the short 'e' sound in American English rather than a long 'a' sound quite often.  Said, again, mountain, captain, fountain, vinaigrette, chair, pair, stair, flair, fair.

 

The only really weird one is plaid.  We use a short 'a' sound in that situation but it's used infrequently enough and is so specific that context usually is enough for some kids to figure it out.

Interesting. I taught mountain as a schwa. I put "air" words in their own category (like fair on that chart above. http://www.thephonicspage.org/Phonics%20Lsns/Resources/sound%20letter%20spell1.pdf )

 

Some of those words have not come up, but I have a tendency to say "cap tin" rather than "cap tehn." I would probably teach it as a schwa. Vinaigrette sounds like "uh" (schwa) to me when I say it. Not sure about others.

 

I am noticing that there is some overlap in phonograms so I admit that while I did teach "ui" as a phonogram, some of those work with the "bu" or "gu" (LOE phonograms) as well. Build. Guide.

 

I just noticed the ABC's and All Their Tricks puts "affair" on the AI page. But I have kept "air" separately. They list mountain and captain on the AI page under "unstressed." Ah, so many ways to categorize things I guess! One of our products is Genki phonics and they put "air" on its own page.

Edited by heartlikealion
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I think this article answers the exact question you are asking. :)

 

All About Learning - Sight Words Article

My sight word page shows how to teach even more of those phonetically, I teach all but 2 of the 220 Dolch words phonetically, but 21 is way better than 220. I recently added the 100 Fry words to my document, they are bocoming more popular, I only had to add 9 Fry words to get all the words on the Dolch 220 and Fry 100 list.

 

http://www.thephonicspage.org/On%20Reading/sightwords.html

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That is what I do, you can see explanations on my sight word page, linked earlier. But, I have them sound them out phonetically after teaching the rule or pattern or exception and have the student sound it out.

 

The only ones I teach are one, once, and eye. I teach one and once together and note that the n and ce are regular at least!

 

I am super paranoid against sight words after all my remedial students, though!I 

I am super paranoid after watching so many kids I know guessing at words and only truly reading the sight words they knew. It made me incredibly wary of anything that seems the slightest like whole language.

 

DD will pick out some phonics easy readers from the library and if we come across a word she doesn't know the rules for yet, we teach them. So today I taught her "th" so that she could read "that". We haven't done "th" in lessons yet, but I am sure it will need to be addressed several times before clicking. 

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I would think that some loan words from other languages would be non-phonetic.  The one that came to mind was 'fete', which in British English is pronounced the same as 'fate'.  I'm not great at phonetic spelling, but it doesn't seem likely to follow a rule.  Another one would be 'facade' which disobeys the rules on hard and soft 'c'.

 

ETA: Schadenfreude.  I would think that the eu pronounced 'oy' is non-phonetic in English.

Edited by Laura Corin
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In regards to sight words, how do you address them in readers such as Nora Gaydos and Bob Books? We are using Ordinary Parents Guide and they've only introduced a few, but both Bob books and Nora Gaydos introduce more words. Right now I explain them phonetically and tell dd what they say.

 

 

This issue is why I'm writing a program for my youngest.

 

Yes, explain each and every word phonetically before expecting them to be able to read it. Look through the books you have and put those words on a 3x5 card.  Pull the cards out and teach the sounds.  (The 'th' phonogram says /th/ as in thin and /th/ as in this.  In the word "the" it says /th/ as in this.  "THis is THe ball I was playing with."  What other words have the /th/ sound?  ...and list a bunch of words that share that sound.)

 

Use these words for handwriting practice.  Pull out that 3x5 card and have him copy the word.  Ask him if he remembers which two letters say the /th/ sound.

 

Lather, Rinse, Repeat with every "sight word."

 

 

Even with words like 'one' I try to give some frame of reference to remember the spelling.  (one, lone, alone, lonely, once...all are talking about a singular something and all have o-n-e.)   I draw eyelashes on the e's in the word eye...and then do the same for the e's in the word see.  (I see with my eyes.)  That solidifies the spelling of eye and helps keep sea vs see straight.

 

These bits and pieces stick better when attached to stories and poems that the child loves.  So, as soon as your dc can move along to books with a plot line, do so.  

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I believe you, but I didn't understand any thing you said.

v/f and s/z and d/t and all the other consonant pairs and how it impacts reading and spelling are covered in my phonics lesson 6.

 

In the word the, it has the regular sound of long vowel at the end, long like be, he, she when the word the is before a words starting with a vowel, like the end or the only. When you say a word or phrase fast or before certain sounds, unaccented syllables and ending vowels often schwa. The vowel e schwas when the word the is followed by a word starting with a consonant, like it the bears or the consonants.

Edited by ElizabethB
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That is what I do, you can see explanations on my sight word page, linked earlier. But, I have them sound them out phonetically after teaching the rule or pattern or exception and have the student sound it out.

 

The only ones I teach are one, once, and eye. I teach one and once together and note that the n and ce are regular at least!

 

I am super paranoid against sight words after all my remedial students, though!!

 

SWR has decent explanations for even these. They are still a stretch though :) Eye supposedly has two silent e's because it would look weird for the "y" to be alone? Each "e" can be pictured as a bag under the eyes.

 

One and once have the root words of one and alone and only?

 

This is what is taught; I cannot verify if it's true.

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  • 5 years later...

All About Reading has a video about that, where they showed all the words on the list that followed the rules and left the true rule-breakers at the end.  a I wrote down the words from it...

a     one     where     what     once     does     said
pretty     any     walk     many     the     there     could
been     very     two     was     of     buy     laugh
are

This site goes into more detail about the different words on the list and what rules apply to them.  

 

Edited by goldenecho
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For me and my kids English is making a lot more sense after we realize English is not purely phonetic but combines phonics with meaning. It has really helped my 4.5 year old's reading journey. It has removed the English doesn't make sense barrier for him. (He got to the I know all the sounds for all my letters and I still can't read everything?! wall.)

For example with this list 

21 minutes ago, goldenecho said:

a     one     where     what     once     does     said
pretty     any     walk     many     the     there     could
been     very     two     was     of     buy     laugh
are

You can see some patterns already that are related to meaning.

  • one, once
  • where, there, here
  • two, twice, twelve, twenty
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I'd really like to know what "phonetic" means in this thread 😉. If it means "there exists a rule that fits it," then I guess most words are phonetic. However, since you can't actually PREDICT which rule it is from simply looking at the word, I would call them "not entirely phonetic." 

There's really nothing about the word "said" that lets you know that it won't be pronounced to rhyme with "aid" or "raid" or "maid". Is "said" phonetic? Well, it really depends what you mean. The "ai" letter combination DOES sometimes sound like that. But you need to know what the word is before you can decide whether it sounds like that or not. So I'd call that not fully phonetic. 

I can tell you that in Russian, which is the other language I read fluently, you'd be able to read most words perfectly without knowing their meanings, except for the emphasis. English is NOT like that. To my mind, it's a much less phonetic language. 

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10 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

However, since you can't actually PREDICT which rule it is from simply looking at the word, I would call them "not entirely phonetic." 

Many actually do have predictable rules. Sadly, English isn't taught that way even most of the time. For example, you can predict with great accuracy when a vowel will say its name rather than its sound based on its location in a word. It is less clear however when a vowel will say its third sound if it has one. I find it sad that this type of explicit phonics instruction is typically reserved for those who have learning disabilities (or luck into a school system that teaches it to all students) rather than the norm when it comes to teaching native and non-native speakers how to pronounce and spell words in English.

 

11 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

Is "said" phonetic?

No, the word said is not phonetic. Spelfabet has a (very short) list of words that supposedly have "ai as in said" but I can't say I agree with it. But, it is an Australian based website so I can see why they say again or against might share the same sound as said but creme fraiche is not an English word and therefore does not follow English pronunciation or spelling rules. The last word on the list, saith, I have always pronounced and heard pronounced with the long ai sound. I cannot think of another English word that traditionally has the same sound as "ai in said". 

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8 minutes ago, sweet2ndchance said:

Many actually do have predictable rules. Sadly, English isn't taught that way even most of the time. For example, you can predict with great accuracy when a vowel will say its name rather than its sound based on its location in a word. It is less clear however when a vowel will say its third sound if it has one. I find it sad that this type of explicit phonics instruction is typically reserved for those who have learning disabilities (or luck into a school system that teaches it to all students) rather than the norm when it comes to teaching native and non-native speakers how to pronounce and spell words in English.

When will a vowel say its name rather than its sound? The best rule I've seen is something like "it'll say its name when it's the first vowel in a vowel-consonant-vowel" combination (aside from things like ow and other vowel-consonant combinations with known sounds), and I'm pretty sure that works like 80% of the time, but it often fails in longer words. Is there a better rule? I feel like the silent e at the end of a word almost always makes a letter that's before the previous consonant (if it's not doubled up) say its name, but it's less good in the middle of words. 

I think you can make up a set of rules that make something like 90% of English words phonetic. In fact, you can make a set of rules that make 100% of English words phonetic -- just make the rule that each word sounds like it does 😛 . The problem is that the longer you make the set of rules, the more difficult it is to remember... obviously, we don't want a dictionary-length list of rules, but it's not clearly reasonable to have 100+ rules, either, especially when for most people, 90% accuracy plus awareness of the spoken language suffices. 

I definitely do teach my kids phonics, but I generally restrict to whatever they need to start intuiting the rules. For DD8, this wasn't much more than was in 100 Easy Lessons. For DD5, it's going to be considerably more, and she doesn't learn rules very easily at all. We did something like a year's worth of nonsense words to get her to internalize the common rules, and I'm pretty sure we'll have to start up the nonsense words again after I take enough of a break. (She's a champion whole word reader, alas, and can read practically anything without knowing lots of phonics. She really doesn't intuit the phonics in the way that DD8 does.)

Edited by Not_a_Number
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15 minutes ago, sweet2ndchance said:

Spelfabet has a (very short) list of words that supposedly have "ai as in said" but I can't say I agree with it. But, it is an Australian based website so I can see why they say again or against might share the same sound as said but creme fraiche is not an English word and therefore does not follow English pronunciation or spelling rules.

Again/against and said does share the sound when I say it, but I have heard people pronounce again in a way that does not have the same sound as said. With all the different dialects of English it gets even more muddled to think of it as purely phonetic. Definitely learning the explicit phonics coupled with realizing some of the meaning reasons for English has help me understand the English language more than the instruction I got as a child.

 

15 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

For DD5, it's going to be considerably more, and she doesn't learn rules very easily at all.

Have you looked into using word sorts, "Words Their Way" is a book my friend gave me on it. My son (albeit 4.5) struggles less with learning the rules when I couple the explicit phonic instruction with a word sort activity. Like your daughter my son is great at memorizing whole words, so this is right up his alley, because the activity is not only about whether he can read the word but whether he can make the connection between what the word sounds like to the spelling pattern it has. A caveat is that in parts of the book it seems to suggest that word sorts should be just one part of a more complete program, but other sections of the book seem to suggest that this type of instruction is all that is needed. I just look at word sorts as a type of practice activity.

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32 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

When will a vowel say its name rather than its sound? The best rule I've seen is something like "it'll say its name when it's the first vowel in a vowel-consonant-vowel" combination (aside from things like ow and other vowel-consonant combinations with known sounds), and I'm pretty sure that works like 80% of the time, but it often fails in longer words. Is there a better rule?

My goodness, yes, there is a better rule. A single vowel usually says its name at the end of a syllable. Short, simple and easy to remember. So if it is an open syllable, in other words one that ends in a single vowel, it usually says its name. If the single vowel is part of a closed syllable it makes its short sound.

Of course this begs the question, how do you know where to divide the syllables in an unfamiliar word? First, I work on VCCV patterns with English students. The rule is simple, you split between the consonants. So first you identify the vowels and if there are two consonant, split between them. The first syllable will always be closed and therefore its short sound. The second vowel sound depends on if it is at the end of the syllable or not.

Next, we tackle VCV patterns. These are a little trickier. The syllable can split either before or after the consonant. I teach my students to split before the consonant as their first try. This will make the first syllable open and therefore says its long sound or its name. If this does not produce a plausible sounding word, then they are to try splitting after the consonant, making the first syllable closed and therefore the vowel says its short sound.

47 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

I feel like the silent e at the end of a word almost always makes a letter that's before the previous consonant (if it's not doubled up) say its name, but it's less good in the middle of words.

Silent E is a whole unit of its own. There are 5 different "jobs" of silent E on the end of a word. Making the vowel say its name is one job. This occurs when there is a single consonant between the vowel and the silent E. That is usually the first "job" of silent E that I teach because it is largely the most common and recognizable. This only applies to single vowel words with a silent e on the end of the word. 

 

54 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

I think you can make up a set of rules that make something like 90% of English words phonetic. In fact, you can make a set of rules that make 100% of English words phonetic -- just make the rule that each word sounds like it does 😛 .

There are many programs available that teach around 70 phonograms and around 30 rules that make 80 - 90% of English words phonetically regular. While a hundred things to memorize sounds like a lot, the Dolch sight word list has over two hundred words to memorize. You can spell and read thousands of words with those 70 phonograms and 30 rules.

Spalding, Spell to Write and Read, All About Reading/Spelling, Logic of English... take your pick. Anything that is based on Orton-Gillingham will also work. OG is not just for children with disabilities! True, not all children need OG to be able to read but all children will learn the phonetic basis of the English language with an OG program.

39 minutes ago, Clarita said:

Again/against and said does share the sound when I say it, but I have heard people pronounce again in a way that does not have the same sound as said. With all the different dialects of English it gets even more muddled to think of it as purely phonetic. Definitely learning the explicit phonics coupled with realizing some of the meaning reasons for English has help me understand the English language more than the instruction I got as a child.

I say and hear most often with the short I  sound but I do hear and occasionally say it with the short E sound like in said. Dialects do make English tricky and there are so many dialects of English it is hard to make any one set of rules perfect for every dialect. When our dialect conflicts with the spelling rule of a word, I teach my students to "Think to Spell" a la Spell to Write and Read. We may say the word one way but we need to "think" the word another to spell it.

In the end, no system will ever make every English word perfectly phonetic. But there are some systems that are extremely helpful in making a large portion of English words phonetic or at least explainable as to why they are not perfectly phonetic.

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47 minutes ago, sweet2ndchance said:

My goodness, yes, there is a better rule. A single vowel usually says its name at the end of a syllable. Short, simple and easy to remember. So if it is an open syllable, in other words one that ends in a single vowel, it usually says its name. If the single vowel is part of a closed syllable it makes its short sound.

Of course this begs the question, how do you know where to divide the syllables in an unfamiliar word? First, I work on VCCV patterns with English students. The rule is simple, you split between the consonants. So first you identify the vowels and if there are two consonant, split between them. The first syllable will always be closed and therefore its short sound. The second vowel sound depends on if it is at the end of the syllable or not.

Next, we tackle VCV patterns. These are a little trickier. The syllable can split either before or after the consonant. I teach my students to split before the consonant as their first try. This will make the first syllable open and therefore says its long sound or its name. If this does not produce a plausible sounding word, then they are to try splitting after the consonant, making the first syllable closed and therefore the vowel says its short sound.

Right, but isn't the outcome of this the same as what I just said? This results in a short vowel before a pair of consonants, because you split the consonants between the syllables, and it results in a long vowel most of the time before a single consonant, and if that doesn't sound right, you try a short vowel. What's the difference, other than ease of memorization? 

 

Quote

Silent E is a whole unit of its own. There are 5 different "jobs" of silent E on the end of a word. Making the vowel say its name is one job. This occurs when there is a single consonant between the vowel and the silent E. That is usually the first "job" of silent E that I teach because it is largely the most common and recognizable. This only applies to single vowel words with a silent e on the end of the word. 

Right. That's the one I tend to teach, because that's the one that helps with reading. I also find that it works more often than just with single vowel words, though... it works for most longer words, too. I know there are exceptions, but it's not a bad rule to use. 

 

Quote

There are many programs available that teach around 70 phonograms and around 30 rules that make 80 - 90% of English words phonetically regular. While a hundred things to memorize sounds like a lot, the Dolch sight word list has over two hundred words to memorize. You can spell and read thousands of words with those 70 phonograms and 30 rules.

I don't know exactly how many rules I teach. I think I mostly teach the most common double-letter sounds like ou and ow and ai and whatnot. I'm sure it winds up being around 30 or so. We tend to build on 100 Easy Lessons, since I bought it when DD8 was tiny and it worked well for her and we were used to it. 

 

Quote

In the end, no system will ever make every English word perfectly phonetic. But there are some systems that are extremely helpful in making a large portion of English words phonetic or at least explainable as to why they are not perfectly phonetic.

Yeah, English doesn't bother me. I'm a visual speller, as I said, so it's not hard for me to deal with. But I can tell that there's a qualitative difference between English and a truly phonetic language. DD8 can sound out Russian without understanding it. She would never be able to do this as well in English. 

Edited by Not_a_Number
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1 hour ago, Clarita said:

Have you looked into using word sorts, "Words Their Way" is a book my friend gave me on it. My son (albeit 4.5) struggles less with learning the rules when I couple the explicit phonic instruction with a word sort activity. Like your daughter my son is great at memorizing whole words, so this is right up his alley, because the activity is not only about whether he can read the word but whether he can make the connection between what the word sounds like to the spelling pattern it has. A caveat is that in parts of the book it seems to suggest that word sorts should be just one part of a more complete program, but other sections of the book seem to suggest that this type of instruction is all that is needed. I just look at word sorts as a type of practice activity.

Oooh, I haven't tried that. She might like that. D'you have a link? 

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11 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

Oooh, I haven't tried that. She might like that. D'you have a link? 

Words Sorts — The Literacy Bug  (There's a video on how it works with some sample sorts)

Words Their Way: Resources and Ideas - ELL ToolBox (Another summary on it)

Words Their Way : The Ultimate How To Guide (secondstorywindow.net) (summerizes and talks about what the book kind of talks about)

My friend who use to teach gave me her book (4th edition). This is the newer edition. The first edition is much cheaper.

Pearson eText Words Their Way: Word Study for Phonics, Vocabulary, and Spelling Instruction -- Instant Access | 7th edition | Pearson

The instructions itself is geared toward a classroom and it does come from Pearson they want to sell you a bunch of workbooks and online tools etc. So, a lot of the stuff on it and even the book itself talks about using it everyday, which I don't it is but one type of activity that I use. It sometimes sells itself as a complete phonics, spelling, reading instruction; I don't think it is. 

Edited by Clarita
I found link from publisher.
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On 7/2/2021 at 11:54 PM, Not_a_Number said:

Right, but isn't the outcome of this the same as what I just said? This results in a short vowel before a pair of consonants, because you split the consonants between the syllables, and it results in a long vowel most of the time before a single consonant, and if that doesn't sound right, you try a short vowel. What's the difference, other than ease of memorization? 

You asked for a better rule and I gave you my rule that I teach both children and ELLs which I believe is better. It's simple to remember and easy to implement even for young children. My question to you is how does it fail in longer words? There are exceptions, I know we come across them now and then, but I can't think of one off the top of my head honestly.

On 7/2/2021 at 11:54 PM, Not_a_Number said:

DD8 can sound out Russian without understanding it.

See, don't necessarily find this to be a good thing. My younger dd could sound out words, in English, on a high school level when she was in first/second grade. She could read them but didn't necessarily know what they meant. Hyperlexia comes with its own set of problems.

I can read almost anything in written in romaji in Japanese. I can read and pronounce it because Japanese is very phonetic when it comes right down to it. But that doesn't mean I understand any of it. Not exactly helpful in trying to use my Japanese in real life. And since using the language in real life was the whole point of my learning Japanese in the first place, its not exactly helpful when I still have to whip out the translation dictionary to find out what I just read anyways.

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27 minutes ago, sweet2ndchance said:

You asked for a better rule and I gave you my rule that I teach both children and ELLs which I believe is better. It's simple to remember and easy to implement even for young children. My question to you is how does it fail in longer words? There are exceptions, I know we come across them now and then, but I can't think of one off the top of my head honestly.

Depends what you mean by "fail"? Trying either the long sound or the short sound works most of the time. It's just that you can't tell which one to use reliably. 

DH and I both have had the experience of knowing words in writing that we don't know how to say. That's because English isn't really that regular and you can't figure out exactly how things should sound by how they are written. 

If you want an example, take the word "experiment" which is currently being discussed on the Chat Board 😂. I say the second vowel as a short e. Why do I say it like that? No idea, although it looked like that was a common choice on the board. Why isn't the "er" pronounced as the standard "er" combination, which sounds more like "ur"? No idea. Why do the second syllable of "experience" and "experiment" sound different? Not sure about that, either. 

Basically, English provides enough phonetic clues to be able to read words one already knows but not enough to actually know what something you've never seen before sounds like. Which is totally fine! I just don't think of that as fully phonetic. 

 

27 minutes ago, sweet2ndchance said:

See, don't necessarily find this to be a good thing. My younger dd could sound out words, in English, on a high school level when she was in first/second grade. She could read them but didn't necessarily know what they meant. Hyperlexia comes with its own set of problems.

I can read almost anything in written in romaji in Japanese. I can read and pronounce it because Japanese is very phonetic when it comes right down to it. But that doesn't mean I understand any of it. Not exactly helpful in trying to use my Japanese in real life. And since using the language in real life was the whole point of my learning Japanese in the first place, its not exactly helpful when I still have to whip out the translation dictionary to find out what I just read anyways.

It's not helpful for understanding the language but it makes it easier to learn new words in writing. 

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On 7/2/2021 at 7:03 PM, Not_a_Number said:

I'd really like to know what "phonetic" means in this thread 😉. If it means "there exists a rule that fits it," then I guess most words are phonetic. However, since you can't actually PREDICT which rule it is from simply looking at the word, I would call them "not entirely phonetic." 

There's really nothing about the word "said" that lets you know that it won't be pronounced to rhyme with "aid" or "raid" or "maid". Is "said" phonetic? Well, it really depends what you mean. The "ai" letter combination DOES sometimes sound like that. But you need to know what the word is before you can decide whether it sounds like that or not. So I'd call that not fully phonetic. 

I can tell you that in Russian, which is the other language I read fluently, you'd be able to read most words perfectly without knowing their meanings, except for the emphasis. English is NOT like that. To my mind, it's a much less phonetic language. 

So, said is a true rule-breaker, I've read.  

But still, what you say is true even about some words that are rule followers.   If more than one rule applies you sometimes just have to know.

 And it's different for spelling and reading too.  With reading if there are two or even several ways it can be read according to rules, than at least in those words you can try all the ways and you can usually figure out which is right, until you do get used to that word and just know.     Spelling is more difficult, because if there are multiple ways to spell the same word, you can't just pick one (not since the middle ages at least)...you have to get the right one so memorization is needed. 

I do often wish English were as simple phonetically as Spanish (it's like Russian...if you know the rules you really can read nearly anything correctly.   And I say "nearly" just because it's possible there's a few exceptions out there I haven't come across.)

But even in words in English that can't be fully phonetically sounded out, that are rule breakers or are tricky words because more than one rule can apply, it really helps to have the phonics base because there are very few words that you don't use phonics for.   Take "said."   In that word at least the s and the d are ones you can sound out, and so you just have to remember the middle part is different than normal.  That's still easier than memorizing a random symbol, even if it's less easy than a truely phonetic language. 

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1 minute ago, goldenecho said:

So, said is a true rule-breaker, I've read.  

But still, what you say is true even about some words that are rule followers.   If more than one rule applies you sometimes just have to know.

 And it's different for spelling and reading too.  With reading if there are two or even ways it can be read according to rules, than at least if you know those words you can try all the ways you can usually figure out which is right, until you do get used to that word and just know.     Spelling is more difficult, because if there are multiple ways to spell the same word, you can't just pick one (not since the middle ages at least)...you have to get the right one so memorization is needed. 

I do often wish English were as simple phonetically as Spanish (it's like Russian...if you know the rules you really can read nearly anything correctly.   And I say "nearly" just because it's possible there's a few exceptions out there I haven't come across.)

A language like Russian really does make spelling easier. I've taking a 25-year break from writing in Russian, and I'm currently writing again, and I'm largely not misspelling things. Like, it's not PERFECT, but it's just fine. And I haven't been reading much in Russian, either. It's simply an easier language to use. 

 

1 minute ago, goldenecho said:

But even in words in English that can't be fully phonetically sounded out, that are rule breakers or are tricky words because more than one rule can apply, it really helps to have the phonics base because there are very few words that you don't use phonics for.   Take "said."   In that word at least the s and the d are ones you can sound out, and so you just have to remember the middle part is different than normal.  That's still easier than memorizing a random symbol, even if it's less easy than a truely phonetic language. 

Oh, absolutely! I think English phonics rules are invaluable and I'm very much a fan of learning them. I do teach my kids phonics -- with both of them, we went through 100 Easy Lessons and then a bunch extra to give them a sufficient base to work with. So I'm not knocking phonics 😉 . At some point, I took a year's worth of Chinese and I'm well aware that learning to reading in a totally non-phonetic language is MUCH harder! 

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I think the whole "sight word" phenomenon actually has little to do with whether or not a word follows phonetic rules.  I think it's about making it realistic for many kids to read fluently when they are cognitively ready to read fluently.

I know this is an unpopular position, but IMO if a kid reaches satisfying fluency faster by memorizing some common words, then more power to her.  It has not been my experience that "sight words" slow down phonetic learning or any other reading skill.  IME, "sight words" have increased motivation to decode other words, since most good kids' books have a mixture of both.

My approach was to explain the phonics and then pronounce the word.  With common words, most kids remember them by sight, whether we like it or not.

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