How to Put Together the Parts & Pieces That Make Language Work: B = Phonics & Spelling

If the English language is regarded as a puzzle (a complex set of components that work best in coordination with one another), here’s a categorization of “Language Teaching & Learning Puzzle Pieces” that works:
Current PUZZLE PIECES
(This is also available at www.worklifeenglish.com.)
After teaching what’s necessary to “Know the Alphabet,” (as detailed in this blog) the next general puzzle piece (subject of study) to contribute to acquisition of the English-Language is [B] “Phonics & Spelling.”
And as in all puzzle solving, pieces have to be considered one by one—or a few at a time, in segments of language material or subject matter. Then the info behind each major puzzle piece can be divided into teachable/learnable competencies. These can be further separated into specific language skills, functions, techniques, activities, tasks, materials, and so on.
For instance, for “Phonics & Spelling” here’s a chart showing nine divisions of material in a sequence designed to help achieve competency goals B-1 to B-9—like “Start with Phonics & Spelling Concepts,” “Focus on Initial Sounds & Letters,” “Cover Rhyming-Word Families,” and so on.  
Phonics & Spelling Lessons for Competencies
Chart B. Phonics & Spelling: Parts & Pieces functions as a gateway to choose what will help learners become proficient in Phonics (i.e. reading words aloud, or pronouncing and connecting sounds represented by letters in sequence) & Spelling (i.e. writing letters that represent sounds in correct order in words). 
Chart B  is comparable to Parts & Pieces Charts designed to facilitate instruction in A. Know the Alphabet, C. Use Vocabulary, D. Apply Grammar, E. Listen & Talk, F. Speak Clearly, G. Read Efficiently, and so on.
In each Parts & Pieces Chart A - K, teachable/learnable competencies are numbered to keep info, lessons, or materials in reasonable sequence. Most important is the “Do It!” Column: in chart B it divides mastery of Phonics & Spelling into equal or comparable portions. Here’s some commentary on the first 4 listings (25 parts & Pieces) out of the nine in Chart B. Phonics & Spelling: Parts & Pieces. To see each numbered Part or Piece, click on its row in the chart (BELOW), and the charts that follow, as necessary.
B-1. Start with Phonics & Spelling Concepts. To acquire basic oral and written literacy, English users must be able to distinguish among (the functions of) 26 alphabet letters, over 40 vowel & consonant sounds, word examples, reading aloud, and orthography. Use the downloadable printables to begin the process. 
B-2. Focus on Initial Sounds & Letters. They’re probably easiest to distinguish from one another, so why not begin instruction in English phonics with the (usually consonant) sounds and letters that start words?  First, ensure phonemic awareness. Continue with repetition, identification, and comparison. Anchor knowledge and skills with practice activities—or play with Picture & Word Cards or on Path-Boards. And after covering single sounds and letters, progress to sound & letter combinations—like digraphs, clusters, and blends.   
B-3. Cover “Rhyming Word Families.” Whether participants are children, language-learning adults, or new readers, the concept of “rhyming words” (groups of items that sound the same after their initial consonants) helps develop phonemic awareness. Present, practice, and reinforce knowledge of the (most common, useful) “Word-Family Patterns” with Rime and Word Reference Lists. Then anchor and enjoy the notion with 16 four-of-a-kind Picture & Word Card Decks.
B-4. Consider Phonetic (Dictionary/IPA) Symbols for Sounds. Although (teachers of) beginners rarely use them, adult learners may appreciate—and develop facility with—sound-symbols. These 40 or more (non-alphabetic) characters clarify the differences between sounds and letters, facilitate dictionary use, improve learners’ pronunciation, and are fun to learn to use. Enjoy work sheets, card activities, and “codes.” 

CLICK HERE FOR PART ONE OF THE COMPETENCY CHART LINKS TO LESSONS

WATCH FOR PART 2 AND THE OTHER FIVE (5) COMPETENCIES IN THE NEXT BLOG.

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About Work/Life English
For over 35 years, Work/Life English has been dedicated to improving the lives of English language learners. We offer a comprehensive range of fun, effective English language improvement lessons and activities to help adult education ESL educators successfully engage their English language students and improve their English competencies, leading to a host of positive effects in students’ professional and personal lives. Better English, Better Life. For more information, visit www.worklifeenglish.com.

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