Students confusing a/e/i and o/u

This forum has been created to provide a non-challenging environment for teachers and parents new to using synthetic phonics.

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Students confusing a/e/i and o/u

Post by amanzano » Sat Oct 01, 2011 3:20 pm

I am and ELL teacher for students whose first language is Spanish but communicate well in English. My students are between 8-10 years old and read 2 or more years below grade level. I am using the "Sound Steps to Reading" manual along with Jolly Phonics movements and songs for each phoneme and a word building activity where students manipulate squares with individual phonemes to build words.

I am following the Sound Steps sequence of introducing phones, and I am concerned because we have been working with "short" vowel sounds for several weeks and many students continue to spell "hit" as "het," "hog" as "hug", and "rat" as "ret." I think that the problem is that the students are confusing Spanish and English vowel sounds represented by those letters. Any advice on how to address this problem? I was wondering if I should supplement my instruction with something that specifically teaches students how to make and hear those sounds. I have heard good things about earobics; read, write and type; and LiPS. Do you think these programs might help students?

Also, I haven't been trained in any synthetic phonics instruction besides Wilson, which I find very confusing. I don't understand the logic of the sequences of lessons, the "welded" consonants, the open/closed syllables, etc. Any suggestions on how or where a teacher can receive training in synthetic phonics instruction for older beginning readers? I live in the US but am willing to travel to the UK if necessary.

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Re: Students confusing a/e/i and o/u

Post by cartwheel » Mon Oct 03, 2011 3:20 am


I am not Wilson-trained, so I don't speak from experience, but the number of rules seems to overwhelm quite a few of the instructors. Just this week I showed a Wilson-trained individual some synthetic phonics materials and she was amazed that such a simple, straight-forward approach to teaching phonics even exists. She had no idea. I call Wilson and other O-G programs "cousins of a sort" to synthetic phonics, and I know they have helped countless individuals learn to read better. But I think they do a disservice, to some degree, to "explicit, systematic phonics," because teachers and parents think it is so complicated and requires so much training that they hand the job over to others.

As lovely as the thought of a trip to England is (I live in the U.S. and often peek at ticket prices myself!), you don't need to travel there to be trained in SP. The online Jolly Phonics training course is quite good, e.g., and far cheaper than a plane ticket.

Although I can't help you specifically with the issue of Spanish speakers,
if you send me a PM, I can likely put you in touch with a teacher in the U.S. who works in a school with many Spanish-speaking students. This teacher uses synthetic phonics, (using the school's official reading program and Phonics International materials).


Anne Mc Keefry
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Location: Co Down

Re: Students confusing a/e/i and o/u

Post by Anne Mc Keefry » Tue Oct 04, 2011 5:00 pm

Confusing the short vowel sounds /e/ /i/ and /o//u/ is also common among pupils in N. Ireland. I find the idea in Jolly Grammar really helpful. It works and the children find it entertaining. Put a puppet/object in a box. I use Inky Mouse.

For /a/ put the puppet at the side of the box and say at the box Encourage the children to open their mouths wide to feel and hear the /a/sound
For /e/ sit the puppet on the edge of the box say edge of the box Children should feel lips stretching at the beginning of the word edge
For /i/ put the puppet in the box and say in the box
For /o/ put the puppet on the box and say on the box
For /u/ put the puppet under the box and say under the box

Repeat 3 times so that children become familiar with the vowel sounds at the beginning of the words at, edge, in, on, under

Next put the puppet in each position but say only the short vowel sounds

/a, e, i, o, u/

Then the children pretend their hand is a box and their index finger on the other hand is the puppet. Go through appropriate actions as above.

I have seen children doing the actions when they are writing independently or during spelling tests and need to check which vowel to use.


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Re: Students confusing a/e/i and o/u

Post by amanzano » Thu Oct 06, 2011 5:11 pm

Thanks for your help!

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