Saturday, July 02, 2011

Learning Jolly Phonics

As I shared previously, I attended a Jolly Phonics two-day workshop in mid-June to learn about phonics and 42 letter sounds, which is broken up into 7 groups of 6 sounds under this method. I may have been the only parent there, but at the end of the day, we were all there for the same goal, though mine was more personal.

Instructor Victoria Carlton hails from Perth, Western Australia and has her own school that uses the Jolly Phonics method, which was put together many years ago by a UK English teacher Sue Lloyd. Victoria got everyone warmed up from the start by asking us to choose a puppet that we like from a pile, and introduce ourselves. We had to also say why we chose that particular puppet. Besides teaching the various letter sounds and actions, Victoria also gave advice on teaching young children and various activities that can be used to help them learn the letter sounds, blended sounds and tricky words. She also shared tips on choosing suitable books and recommended a few. One very good idea she shared to encourage recognition of letters and sounds was to use an alphabet floor mat and getting the child to hop on the letter when you say it. For older children, to encourage them to write, a good idea is to use a letter box and exchange notes with the child. With this method, often, one can identify language concepts that the child has not grasped, eg spelling, and subsequently teach that concept again.

The course also covered simple grammar for older kids, which was interesting to me, though not applicable yet. Overall, the workshop was extremely interactive and I absolutely learnt a lot.

While EV is young for phonics training, Victoria shared that is was done to expose her to it in a relaxed way, and to increase her phonemic awareness. That is, the awareness that each letter makes a particular sound, and that these sounds combine to make words. For example, when we see a cat, we can say the word 'cat', break it up into the individual letter and sounds c-a-t, and then repeating the word again. Something like this can be incorporated into every day life and things, says Victoria, and will help her as she slowly gains more formal knowledge of the alphabet and letter sounds. This is definitely what I'm planning to do.