Serena Tan Abdullah the Assistant Director for Curriculum Development for the DAS English Language Literacy Division shares with us the professional development our staff undergo to support the teaching of the English language and phonics.

The DAS Main Literacy Programme has come a long way and we constantly look to ways to enhance the programme to benefit our learners by attending courses on curriculum development and current perspectives on supporting learners with dyslexia effectively.

One such course was a four-day training on Sounds~Write, and I was thrilled to meet many like-minded educators, speech and language pathologists, psychologists and parents. All of us attended the Sounds~Write workshop with the intent and hope to see how aspects of the Sounds~Write programme can be incorporated and adapted to cater to the learning needs of learners in our schools/organisations.

The Sounds~Write approach is phonographic - which means that teaching and learning start with what all children acquire naturally and right from the start, the sounds of their own language; letters or combinations of letters, called graphemes, are the agreed ways in which we represent those sounds when we write.

One of the key learning points: 

What learners need to understand the English alphabet code in order to become fluent reader (and speller) of English.

CONCEPTUAL KNOWLEDGE SKILLS

Similarly, the DAS Main Literacy Programme (MLP) also introduces and covers the above conceptual knowledge and skills to our learners in order to build their foundational understanding of the English Alphabet code as we work toward them becoming fluent readers and spellers.

As conceptual teaching enables learners with difficulties store information in an organised and structured way that aids in the retrieval of information automatically, it is of vital importance that information is presented within a conceptual framework.

For example, one of the ways to help students concretise the process of blending is to have them imagine themselves as beginner bakers (readers) and following a recipe step by step (individual sounds) in a specific manner (1st sound, 2nd sound...) in order to ensure that the final product-cake (target word) is baked to perfection (reading accurately).

Therefore, there are elements of the Sounds-Write concepts and teaching principles that are also emphasised in our DAS MLP to help our students become more confident and competent in their literacy skills. 

This article was published in FACETS Vol 2 2018

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