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Bernie McGinley, from Ireland, contacted the RRF regarding the way that we discuss learners - our tendency to refer to 'children' rather than 'students'. We were given the go-ahead to copy and paste the original message as I suggested that this is an issue to raise for us all:
Dear Maggie and Debbie
Last year I attended the RRF Conference in London and have been benefiting from Synthetics Phonics
in my work. (I attended your workshop Debbie!).
What I am writing to ask is whether it would be possible to replace the word 'children' with 'student' in your
articles (unless the word child/children in relating to a developmental matter and should not be replaced then).
It's just that I work in adult education and I am trying to direct our providers in your direction. They would easily
dismiss it as a pedagogical approach and argue that andragogy is a different matter etc
I often refer to 'learners' in an attempt to broaden the scope of those who are taught or who need teaching and/or additional practice. I do think the word 'students' is perhaps the most suitable word when we discuss or write about phonics education in the wider sense.
Perhaps we can pay extra attention to our wording relative to the subject we are writing about.
It's very pleasing for us to hear from people and to know that others are spreading the word about the importance of phonics teaching and that the RRF efforts are contributing to the bigger picture and more local pictures.
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- Location: London
I strongly agree with Bernie's suggestion. To add to the collection of words, e.g. 'learner' and 'student', which do not exclude adults: I have found the terms 'beginner readers' and 'struggling readers' to be very useful at times.
Anne Mc Keefry
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- Joined: Sat Nov 01, 2003 8:35 pm
- Location: Co Down
Having spent most of my teaching career teaching under sixes, one of the most rewarding things I have done in the past two years was to improve the reading and spelling skills of two adults. The impetus to become a fluent reader came when the lady's three year old granddaughter told her that she didn't tell the stories the same way as her mummy. The transformation was dramatic once she understood and cracked the alphabetic code. She now loves readng not only to her granddaughter but also for her own pleasure.
The number of adults in Ireland who do not have adequate literacy skills is unacceptably high. It makes me wonder what happens in some families when reading bags are sent home to encourage a love of books. Surely it makes more sense to teach all parents of young learners phonic skills. For two years I did Jolly Phonics training sessions with a Sure Start group. It was very successful and the best attended training they had ever organised. Many fathers also enrolled. Unfortunately last year there was no funding available because "phonics should be left to primary school."
As I want synthetic phonics to be successful I only do training in schools where all teachers are trained. I continue to be amazed at the number of enquiries I get from schools that only want year 1 and 2 or at best keystage 1 teachers trained. I also encourage principals to choose the option where I demonstrate lessons from nursery through to year 7
If Bernie reads this or anyone else in Ireland interested in developing an understanding of synthetic phonics I would be glad to help and can be contacted by email email@example.com
Anne Mc Keefry
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