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Monday, May 31, 2010

Phonics, Phonetics and Phonemics :Four Balanced (Multiple) Paradigmatic Approaches

Four Balanced (Multiple) Paradigmatic Approaches for Direct, Indirect, Synthetic & Analytic Teaching: Gray’s Legacy Paradigm; Botel’s Discovery Phonics Paradigm Glass’ No Rules (Associative Learning) Phonics Paradigm; & an Instructional (Incidental) Conversational Approach (w. ReQuest)-

In general a little bit of phonics instruction tends to go, and grow, a long way.

[Excerpted below from: Reading/Learning Assessment for Diagnostic-Prescriptive Teaching, 2nd edition (A.V. Manzo, U. Manzo and Julie Albee) Belmont: California, Thomson/Wadsworth Publishers (2004)].

Outline: Teaching Phonics Every Which Way

1. Balanced Also Means Multiple Approaches to Teaching Phonics, Phonetics & Phonemics
2. Strategic Teachers for Strategic Readers
3. Implicit Questions & Issues About Phonics Instruction
4. What is meant by Paradigmatic Approaches to Teaching Phonics
5. Key Instructional Principles & Considerations and Issues in Teaching Phonics
6. Comprehensive Gray Legacy Paradigm
7. Botel’s Discovery Phonics
8. Glass’ No Phonic Rules Phonics
9. What to do with Volunteers, Paraprofessionals (Decoding Stations)
10. Manzo’s Incidental-Instructional Conversation Approach
11. In Summary…
12. References aplenty

Balanced Also Means Multiple Approaches to Teaching Phonics, Phonetics & Phonemics
Over seven decades of research findings have been gathering layers of meanings in this area of teaching-learning. This research includes a powerful, though sometimes forgotten, study by Bleismer and Yarborough (1960) comparing 10 different approaches to beginning reading. The various phonics approaches did best. This study was preceded by several others in the mid and late 1950’s aimed at various comparisons of methods of teaching phonics (e.g., Sparks and Fay, 1957). These were followed in the mid-late 1960’s by the well known First Grade and (lesser known) second and third Grade Studies, and by Jeanne Chall’s (1967) controversial summations of most of the research conducted earlier. Each of these studies and syntheses were necessary in some way to our science. Collectively, they seemed to say that it is necessary to teach phonetic analysis in the schools, and to do so fairly systematically through at least the primary grades, if not higher. Other more recent contemporary writers and researchers, like Snow, Burns and Griffin (1998), and Rayner & Pollatsek (1989) , and most popularly Adams (1990), have similarly concluded the need for explicit and systematic instruction in a phonemic-phonetic system. A report of the National Reading Panel (1998) - chaired, curiously, by an “impartial physicist” - has further re-concluded that phonetic analysis should be taught rather explicitly as part of a “balanced reading” program. In point of fact, it appears that the weight of experimental evidence slightly supports teaching an alphabetic, synthetic, system of separate sounds first (Adams, 1990), despite the fact that this seems counter-intuitive (just try to make the sound of “b” without automatically adding a complicating vowel sound).
Nonetheless, or maybe, for these reasons, there remains something of a vague feeling, even among some veteran teachers, as to just what it means to be professionally prepared for, and how, precisely, to teach phonics. It was in this vein that Patricia Cunningham (1992) addressed the question in an article titled: “What kind of phonics instruction will we have?” We will attempt here to flesh out this elementary question a bit further and look back, just a little, to see how we once taught phonics, so that we might better save the best. There are many implicit questions in gathering these recommendations that deserve to be mentioned as background, even if we can not fully address them here.

Implicit Questions & Issues About Phonics Instruction

Questions abound. Do all who teach phonics need to explicitly know all the rules of phonetics? Does the renewed interest in phonics mean that we all need to teach phonic rules to students, and if so, when and how many ? Does “teaching” mean, or include behaviorally conditioning certain phonetic responses to certain graphemic symbols and/or whole words in “flash” exposures ? Is phonetic analysis merely a matter of teaching students to hear and then make slightly voiced phonemic semblances of speech sounds that remind the ear of each sound byte in each word so that they can blended into a familiar word ? Or, is it necessary to master an exquisite set of rules of phonetics to “properly” pronounce real words, and even psuedo (nonsense) words never before heard (as is suggested for assessment in the CA Frameworks for Reading and Language Arts)?
The National Reading Panel (1998 ) has added a point here that seems to deserve special attention since it goes to the heart of this piece. It says in effect: that the art of teaching is “…knowing when to apply what strategy with which particular students ( p4-47).”

Strategic Teachers for Strategic Readers
The methods described ahead can be easily categorized by their respective emphases on a number of possible primary and secondary, or collateral, objectives. One core method has a significant component stressing phonemic awareness, a speech to sound recognition approach that is especially appropriate for second language learners, and students who tend to have little phonemic sense - Boder (1970) called them dysphonetic. Another method is based on induction , a discovery, or cognitive enrichment approach, for students who are comfortable thinking their way through complex matters, and to a measured degree, for those who are not. A third intentionally relies on a conditioned response approach that tends to circumvent the dilemma of cognitive overload for those struggling to learn (but, more on this momentarily). And, the fourth is powered by an instructional conversation approach that utilizes mental modeling, and that can easily combine and reinforce the others while keeping focus on comprehension. But, first permit address to a few instructional considerations that while implicit in the prior remarks, bear some considerable significance in today’s issues regarding the teaching of the decoding aspects of reading.

Key Instructional Principles & Considerations and Issues in Teaching Phonics
While it can appear to be static and painstakingly incremental, phonics instruction can be organic. For this reason a little bit of phonics instruction tends to go, and grow, a long way. Lessons appear to accumulate and begin to have a synergistic - or, one, plus one = 3 - kind of growth effect on learning. That is to say, learning occasionally makes leaps between lessons, rather than losing ground as is the case with most factual learning. We do not fully understand how this complex process takes place, or gets done. The primary reason appears to be that students talk to themselves about what they are learning, and therefore, continue the process of learning through self-instruction as they encounter environmental and text-based print. This makes sense, since it is clear that teachers can not possibly teach all the sounds and rule combinations of the English language. But the mystery remains of just how this gets done. Importantly,” sound” instruction generally includes a fairly traditional combination of:
• attention to phonemic - or sound elements in the speech stream;
• teaching of phonic elements - or graphemes that represent speech sounds in isolation and in context;
• a bit of direct instruction with isolated, whole word - or flash card training ;
• considerable exposure to words in context in books with a relatively controlled level of difficulty; and,
• by a judicious amount of writing - or attempts to record one’s own thoughts and words in this coded, editable and apparently self-gratifying form.

What is meant by Paradigmatic Approaches to Teaching Phonics
An Instructional Paradigm (par’ a dime) is a core, comprehensive and robust means of teaching a specific subset of essential skills. Instructional Paradigms are especially valuable for teaching the obvious, when it is not so obvious just how to do so in a multi-level class. Paradigms tend to have a built-in assurance of quality since they often reflect generations of research and field practice, often dating back to when there were multiple grades in a single classroom. They also tend to cover all the instructional bases, a definite plus in preserving the goal of today’s heterogeneous classrooms.

Gray’s Comprehensive Legacy Phonics Paradigm

This approach tends to merge synthetic and analytic phonics. It is based on teaching students to recognize words that they already have in their speaking vocabulary. The paradigm for teaching in this way often is attributed to William S. Gray, sometimes called the “founder of modern reading instruction.” This model for synthetic-analytical phonics instruction probably represents the earliest and most complete articulation of this approach to reading instruction, and remains the basis for most subsequent forms of word analysis training (Gray, 1948). Notice as you review this slightly modified version that this four step procedure regularly teaches visual identification of graphemes and aural (or auditory) identification of phonemes (Steps 1 and 2). It then proceeds to teach phonemic/phonetic blending - called an analogic approach because it is uses one of the most basic principles of learning, namely, that of using “known” parts of words to unlock “unknown” parts; as seeing as in has (Step 3). It then comes together in another basic principle of teaching-learning known as application and transfer of training, when it requires a Context-Comprehension Activity (Step 4) which reinforces both word analysis and rapid word identification with relatively simple text (i.e., within a child’s Zone of Proximal Development, as we would refer to it today). This “fail-proof” paradigm is detailed and illustrated below using the “squ” blend.
Complete (Analytic/Synthetic) Phonics Paradigm
Step 1: Visual and Phonemic “Fixing” Through Similarities
a. Raising awareness of a visual distinction: Words are written on the board. The student circles the part(s) that all the words have in common:
squirrel squeeze squeak square squaw
b. Raising awareness of a phonemic distinction : Using the same list as above, the teacher reads each word from the board, giving only slight emphasis to the squ sound. The students try to identify the sound that each word has in common. The auditory step may precede the visual step if the student tends to have an auditory orientation.
Step 2: Visual and Phonemic Distinction Through Discrimination
a. Visual discrimination: Presenting words in groups of three, the student first underlines squ in each word in which he or she finds it. Next, the student attempts to say only those words containing the squ sound:
queen retire squirrel shrimp
squat squirt squirm spring
whom whenever sprint squeaky
b. Auditory - Phonemic/Phonetic - Discrimination: The teacher says three (3) words. Without seeing the words, the student identifies the word(s) containing the squ sound:
squeal squash shield squelch
spur squid square squeak
dig send squash squat
Step 3: Blending (Substitution)
The teacher shows the student how to blend and substitute sounds to form new words.
Example: Substitute the squ sound for the existing sound at the beginning of each word:
ball - b = all + squ = squall wire - w = ire + squ = squire
what - w = at + squ = squat tint - t = int = squ = squint
Step 4: Contextual Application
The student underlines words containing the squ sound, which are embedded in
1. He led a squad of men into battle.
2. He leads a squadron in the army.
3. Try not to squash it, please.

There are several additional enrichment activities that could follow from these essential steps. Children could be encouraged to write further sentences using the squ element. Worksheets could be introduced for 10 minutes of practice with this and previously taught phonetic elements. Children also can be encouraged to read self-selected books in which they might try to note any squ words encountered, or perhaps used in prior Language Experience Stories. This core approach was supported in the past by a basal reading program that provided extensive guidance to teachers in doing this with many other phonetic elements, and by a variety of exercise sheets. Today we are moving toward computer assisted variations complete with sound and animations. The intrinsic value of these new age variations, and other commercial materials can be judged against the degree to which they contain provisions for the essential steps found in this comprehensive paradigm.

Discovery Phonics Paradigm
The Discovery Phonics Paradigm also doubles as a quick technique that can be easily woven into most any phonics lesson. It is a highly cognitive-conceptual approach most often attributed to Morton Botel (1964), but otherwise so intuitive that it is hard to imagine anyone trying to teach phonetic analysis who would not re-discover it in the give and take with students. This paradigmatic method is designed to help students to learn to discover for themselves some of the phonetic and structural patterns, or generalizations, that make many words decodable. The teacher helps students to “discover” these patterns through inductive questioning that develops students’ powers of observation, sensitivity to language, and capacity to form concepts about how sounds and words have come to be encoded.
Steps in( Botel’s) Discovery Technique:
Step 1. The teacher provides accurate sensory experiences

Example: When teaching that some words drop the e before endings are added, the teacher might:
a. Put the following known words on the board:

make -- making hope -- hoping ride -- riding
b. Ask students to enunciate the words accurately

c. Ask students to note how the base words are alike, and what change to the base word took place each time we added the ing. If response comes quickly and accurately, move to Step 2. If not, do not move on to Step 2 for a while. Even when students are ready for Step 2, the teacher always reviews Step 1, at least briefly.

Step 2. Students examine the structural pattern with teacher guidance, but the teacher does not state the rule.
Example: In adding ing to words that end in a silent e, the teacher questions students until they arrive at the following findings:

a. The base words have a silent e preceded by a long vowel sound.

b. The base words drop the e when ing is added.

Step 3. Students collect words that fit the pattern
Students practice finding other words in their word lists and in general reading that fit the pattern, such as:

chase -- chasing close -- closing skate -- skating

Step 4. Students generalize the pattern.
A written or oral statement of the rule is formulated. For example, the rule on dropping the e before adding ing could be stated: “If a base word contains a long vowel sound and ends in a silent e, you drop the e before adding ing.”

Botel adds that it is important to the Discovery Technique to also teach students that rules can have many exceptions. As students begin to apply rules, he points out, they will find words that do not “behave” according to principles. Therefore, teach rules by pointing out that:
“A rule tells us what sound to try first. If the word makes sense in the sentence, it is probably right. If not, try another sound. The final test is always the meaning of the word in context” (Botel, 1964, p. 49).
For example,
She is my niece. Mother baked bread for us.

Assume that the underlined words in each of these sentences are unfamiliar at sight to the student. If the child has learned the rule that when two vowels appear together the first is generally long and the second silent, the first attempts to decode the word will be to use a long i sound in niece and the long e sound in bread. In each case, however, if reading is meaning-driven, the student will reject these choices and keep trying to find a context-appropriate alternative.

Glass’ No Rules (Associative Learning) Phonics Paradigm
Gerald G. Glass (1973) developed a simple method for teaching the decoding aspects of reading. This method also a form of analogic phonics, is compatible with strategies used by successful decoders (Glass & Burton, 1973).
In Glass’ Analysis, the act of decoding is isolated from comprehension and word meaning in order to maximize the student’s attention and focus on the target word and word elements. Two verbal “scripts” are used to question students, and encourage word analysis. One script is to ask what sound a given letter or letter cluster makes; the other script is to ask what letter or letter cluster makes a given sound.
Glass has identified 119 letter clusters by their frequency of occurrence in initial reading material, and therefore their utility in helping children to decode more rapidly. These letter clusters (see sample listed in Figure 1), can be used to develop word lists for such explicit instruction. However, most any set of letter clusters, rimes or phonograms will work just as well. Remember, the goal of instruction is draw attention to word parts and to encourage self-teaching, not to teach every conceivable combination of letters.
The Glass Analysis Paradigm method emphasizes the following basic ideas:
• students should look at the target word throughout the lesson
• avoid undue attention to word meaning during the initial emphasis on sound decoding and word recognition
• practice frequently for brief periods at a brisk pace allow choral responding, but occasionally point to one, tow or three students for response
• avoid distracting discussion of phonic rules such as dropping the final “e” before adding a suffix
• avoid breaking up units that logically belong together (e.g., th, wr, ing, st)
• reinforce correct responses, and do not punish incorrect ones. If a student cannot answer a question, merely state the correct response hardly breaking cadence and return to it again before leaving that word.
Steps in Glass Paradigm
Step 1 Check to make sure the student knows the alphabet and most of the letter sounds.
Step 2 Pick a set of word cards that teach a particular letter cluster.
example: the letter cluster “eck”
Step 3 Seat the student beside you, and show the first word card. Ask if the student can pronounce it; if not, pronounce it and have the student repeat it.
example: What is the word? [pecking]
Step 4 Starting with the letter cluster of the packet, focus on as many letters and letter clusters as is reasonable, asking what letters make a given sound.
example: What letters make the eck sound?
What letters make the ing sound?
What letters make the p sound?
For words that contain only the teaching cluster plus an initial letter (e.g., cat), treat the initial letter as you would a cluster so that the student has been exposed to all letter sounds in the word.
Step 5 Focus on sounds next, asking what sound is made by a given letter cluster or letter.
example: What sound does the letter p make?
What sound do the letters p-e-c-k make?
What sound do the letters e-c-k make?
What sound do the letters i-n-g make?
Figure 1
Letter Clusters (by Frequency Level)

First Highest Second Highest Third Highest Fourth Highest Fifth Highest

1.at 1.ed 1.al 1.fowl 1.er
2.ing 2.ig 2.aw 2.us 2.air
3.et 3.ip 3.el 3. il (l) 3.al
4.it 4.ud 4.eck 4.ite 4.ied
5.ot 5.id 5.ice 5.es(s) 5.ew
6.im 6.en 6.ick 6.om 6.ire
7.op 7.ug 7.if(f) 7.oke 7.ear

What to do with Volunteers, Paraprofessionals (Decoding Stations)?

The ease and rapid pace of Glass Analysis seems to offer two special advantages for combating functional illiteracy at any level. The first is that paraprofessionals and volunteer workers can be easily trained to use the method with children or adults. The second is that schools can set up “decoding stations” (just two desks facing one another in a quiet place) where students with word analysis and recognition problems can be scheduled to make stops for 5 to 15 minute training sessions as often as several times a day until they become proficient. This simple arrangement could single handily end “functional illiteracy” in that it quite literally leaves no child behind.
Now consider a more meaning-based approach to teaching the decoding aspects of reading that folds in this essentially “associative learning” approach. This next paradigm relies on a highly professional form of mental modeling, also sometimes known as cognitive apprenticeship.

Manzo’z Incidental-Instructional Conversation Paradigm for Phonetic Instruction
There is a meaning centered approach to teaching phonetic analysis. It uses a comprehension based teaching strategy to teach phonics rather explicitly. It can be used as a vehicle for each of the previously described paradigms, and has some particular attributes of its own, not the least of which is that it is easily and rather naturally customized to individual needs as expressed in on-the-fly teaching-learning interactions. It also reaches out to the most essential of all goals of instruction, self-instruction.
This type of teaching is meant to become part of one’s sources code. That is, to become a self-guided strategy, more so than just an automatic response skill. The borrowed instructional paradigm for doing so, here, is the ReQuest procedure (Manzo, 1969; Manzo and Manzo, 1993). ReQuest, you will recall, was the first method designed to use mental modeling to teach reading comprehension - a mental process that many doubted could be taught because of its very high correlation with IQ measures. It did so, nonetheless through an inquiry approach that scaffolds a students’ efforts to achieve an initial, self-generated purpose for reading the remainder of a selection. The ReQuest paradigm is based on a simple game-like situation: Create a reciprocal interaction with students over the concepts to be learned, have them observe, and then overtly try to emulate a mental model of high competence as students and then teacher ask each other a series of questions about the first few sentences of a selection until a provisional purpose for reading the remainder is generated. Then, the students and teacher read to determine whether they had evolved an appropriate purpose setting question, and only next what the answer might be to that question. The expectation is that the words spoken and heard in this public conversation will become part of students’ internal, or covert, conversation within themselves, and hence, the internal guidance, or strategy, necessary for ongoing self-instruction. Once the teacher and student have established such a cognitive apprenticeship relationship, the teacher can easily shift from modeling comprehension processes to “think alouds” (Davey, 1983) that model the decoding processes. This shifting can be seamlessly achieved in regular classrooms as well as in tutorial settings.
One way to step down into this more basic word decoding function is simply to ask any of the questions from the preceding paradigms. Using either of the two convenient “scripts” of the Glass paradigm, for example, the teacher might ask on encountering and pronouncing the word ‘lakefront’ in a passage: “Which letters make the “ache” sound in lakefront?; Which letters the “fr” sound?; Which make the “ont” sound?” Once the student begins to emulate this decoding strategy, the second, inverse script can be introduced into the process: “What sound do the letters ‘a-k-e’ make in this word (pointing to it) ?; What sound do the letters ‘l-a-k-e’ make?; What about ‘f-r’?; ‘o-n-t’?” And, finally, what is, or how do you say, this word?”
In using this approach, the teacher typically will engage in a great deal of private speech - or, inner-speech that is audible: e.g., “Let’s see now where should this word first be divided? What are the regular sounds? Which are irregular? “ To gain the secret sharing effect of this mental modeling procedure, the teacher has only to mutter loud enough to be overheard engaging in this complex mental process. It is important that the teacher not try to be so smooth that one never considers asking about a cluster of letters that do not often go together very well. The reason is simple: the teacher is modeling problem-solving, and problem-solving is more like a maze than a highway. We watched a teacher engaged in this instructional conversation who looked up at the student, as if to let her in on her thinking, and said: e.g., “Should I ask what sound the letters “e-f” makes in this word(?). No, the ‘e’ clearly belongs to the l-a-k part of the word. Besides, you’d probably know that too easily, wouldn’t you?” Of course, the student probably wouldn’t have easily known this, but the teacher nonetheless re-taught the concepts of compound words and silent ‘e,’, in a ‘stage aside’ that further familiarized the student with both the decoding process, and the process of identifying and framing questions about this quaint, English language puzzle we glibly refer to as graphemic-phonemic correspondence (authors, 2004).

In Sum: Do What Comes Professionally And Embrace What has Been Done Traditionally

To summarize, teaching the decoding aspects of reading is as simple as what comes most naturally to professional teachers, but it also can be guided by highly honed, and time-tested instructional models. The four paradigms described can and should be used in some combined way. The precise proportions that seem most appropriate for a given school, class and individual ought to be guided by pre-assessment and seamless diagnostic-teaching.
Ultimately each of these, and other such essential, methods should result in a greater level of “automaticity” in word recognition, and an increasingly greater release of the mind from the tedium of deciphering of words, and therefore, with greater capacity to grapple with the potentially multiple meanings in words. This is why instruction in decoding also can be called a form of “comprehension instruction.” Good reading instruction not only adds a layer of skill, but it probably helps to grow cognitive capacity, or that sometimes presumed unchangeable, called IQ.

Author. (2003) Crisis or Cambrian Period? Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy
Authors (1993) Literacy Disorders: Holistic Diagnosis and Remediation. Wadsworth Publishing, Belmont: CA
Authors (2004) Reading Assessment for Diagnostic-Prescriptive Teaching. Wadsworth Publishing, Belmont: CA
Adams, M.J., Beginning to read: Thinking and Learning about Print. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
Bliesmer, E.P. and B.H. Yarborough. (1965) A comparison of ten different beginning reading programs in first grade, Phi Delta Kappan, vol. 56, pp500-504.
Boder, E. (1970). Developmental dyslexia: A new diagnostic approach based on identification of three subtypes. Journal of School Health, 40, 289-290.
Botel, M. (1964). How to teach reading. Chicago: Follett.
Chall, J. S., (1967) Learning to read: The great debate. New York: Mc Graw-Hill
Cunningham, P.M., (1992) What kind of phonics instruction will we have? In C.K. Kinzer & D.J.Leu (Eds.), Literacy research, theory and Practice: Views from many perspectives. Chicago: National Reading Conference
Davey, B. (1983). Think aloud -- Modeling the cognitive processes of reading comprehension. Journal of Reading, 27, 44-47.
Finn, R. (1991). Different minds. Discover, 12(6), 52-58.
Gillingham, A., & Stillman, B. (1936) Remedial training for children with specific disabilities in reading, spelling and penmanship. New York: Sackett and Wilhelms.
Glass, G. (l973). Teaching decoding as separate from reading.
Garden City, NY: Adelphi University Press.
Glass, G. G., & Burton, E. H. (1973). How do they decode? Verbalization and observed behaviors of successful decoders. Education, 94, 58-64.
Gray, W.S. (1948). On their own in reading. Boston: Scott, Foresman & Co.
Manzo, A. V. (1969). The ReQuest procedure. Journal of Reading, 13, 123-126.
Orton, S.T., (1937). Reading, writing and speech problems in children. New York: Norton
Rayner,K., & Pollatseck, A. (1989) The psychology of reading. Englewood cliffs, NJ:Prentice Hall.
Snow , C. E., Burns, M.S., and Griffin, P. (Eds.) (1998) Preventing reading difficulties in young children. Washington, C.C., National Academy Press.
Sparks, p. and L.C. Fay. (1957) An evaluation of two methods of teaching reading, Elementary School Journal,vol.42, pp. 386-390.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2000) Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching children to read. (NIH Publication No. 00-4769). Washington, D.C.: Author
Yopp, H. K. (1992). Developing phonemic awareness in young children. The Reading Teacher, 45(9), 696-703.


  1. Thanks for sharing this nice post.If you are entrusted with the responsibility of teaching young people for the development of education than you can easily English phonetic teacher.


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