Learning a new language is arguably one of the most difficult tasks and different aids are usually developed to enable people to learn languages in an interesting and easier way as compared to the traditional conventional methods (Baby Centre, 2011). Action reading is one of the applications that are interesting and easy to use in teaching new language to new students.
The CD application presents a learning platform that is both satisfying to human need for learning and offers a strong connection between phonics and other word skills. CDs phonics is also a very good chance to increase students’ vocabulary. The platform enables the students to differentiate various phonemes. In this paper I am going to discuss how the action reading program in the teaching CD was used to teach English language to three students namely Eric, Jennifer and Rebecca from McDowell Mountain elementary school. The program was divided into three sections and each student was taught with each section. The paper also discusses how the students responded to the different interesting applications of the program such as the play cards, dices, games, pictures, shortcuts, highlighters and different drills and most importantly how the students were able to process various uses and applications of vowels and syllables in an interesting and funny way.
Action Reading CDs
I worked with a young student at named Erick, who has already started learning to read.
Erick is a quick-witted boy, but still has some difficulties and makes some mistakes. The teaching CDs from the Action Reading program reveal the importance of phonics while teaching reading. The CDs taught reading in a fruitful and more interesting way, as children should learn while playing and play while learning. The CDs in question point out the four basic values of learning patterns. The first one, to my mind, is the most important: learning should satisfy the “human need for learning”. Notably, the CDs also present information about the connection between phonics and other word skills. Placing phoneme cards in Aah-Buh-Cuh order was a drill that was repeated throughout the CDs. The alphabet is printed on one side of the card and the other side has a picture that represents the sound.
The J card has a pile of Jacks that stands for the Juh sound. Eric had a lot of fun practicing with the different pictures and the sounds they represent. As is mentioned in the CDs phonics is a very good chance to increase students’ vocabulary.
Admittedly, learning to differentiate various phonemes, Erick came across new words. Eric enjoyed putting the pictures together to form words, for example the picture of soap, itch and tooth to form the word sit. Eric practiced sliding the pictures together as he sounded out the word. Eric put the pictures back in an Aah-Buh-Cuh order and continued to use different pictures to form new words.
As Erick liked using the picture cards, he practiced with the shortcut cards. Eric lined up the picture side of the cards and repeated the sound the picture made. For instance, for the picture with the wheel printed on the one side and the wh on the other, Erick sounds out the whu sound. He then picks up the picture of the shoe with the sh printed on the other side and sounds out the two letters together, the shu sound. Erick also played with the cards with three pictures, for example, the apple, can, and key to form the ending sound ack. After practicing the sounds, Erick slid the beginning sounds sh and the ending sound ack to form the word shack.
The use of context is also discussed in the CDs. So, I used the techniques provided. Since there was only one student, I did not only ask him to choose the right word for a sentence. There was not much of a competition in that kind of activity for Erick. Thus, I made out new challenges for him. I asked him to invent stories using the words. In fact, Erick liked learning with some text, as with the newspaper. He felt he was grown up enough to deal with such materials.
First, he was looking for definite letters, words or some secondary spelling patterns. He liked using highlighters. Then I asked Erick to find some words and compare the context. Finally, the CDs discussed the use of games to perform drills for sounds and master sound-symbol relationship and practice keyboarding.
Erick played the game “First Steps” The Object of the game was to drill the sounds. Erick rolled the dice and moved the marker three spaces and landed on the gum, and sounded out the sound guh for gum. We took turns until we reached the happy face. We played the game several times until Erick was able to master all the sounds.
We also played the game “Keys to reading”; Erick rolled the dice and moved over the letters qu, w, e and r saying the sounds as he passed over them. He then placed his hands in the appropriate position and practice reaching keys and saying sounds not letter names. He was laughing as he moved along the board. Erick also took interest in the shortcuts game. Erick rolled the die and moved across the board making the sounds as he crossed over them. Erick landed on the letter b and the short cut ack and sounded out the word back. He then landed on the letter n and the shortcut ock to form the word nock.
Erick had so much fun with this exercise he began repeating other letters with the shortcuts to form new words. Erick seemed to enjoy this game over the first two games, and previous exercises. I enjoyed working with Erick and the different tasks involved in the CDs. Rebecca is a student at McDowell Mountain, where she is learning how to read and write. Rebecca loves to play therefore, was excited about practicing the different tools used for learning the sounds of letters taught in CD three and CD four. These two CDs present information about the connection between phonics and other word skills.
Phonics is primarily used to teach learners how to use context and learn new vocabulary. Personally, I took this knowledge gained from the CDs on board and sections of the polysyllabic that could be recognized. For instance, I started with words containing prefixes or suffixes such as un-cork, un-wise, bold-ness, moon-less. Through this, Rebecca was able to find some words she knew; therefore, she was able to divide them easily into syllables. This greatly facilitated her learning and understanding of what syllables are. As mentioned in the CD’s syllables are marked in the dictionary to help a learner to pronounce words and read long words. On the other hand, Rebecca had a lot of fun clapping out some words such as fan-tas-tik, which enabled her to clap out words and add some long words.
In addition to clapping words and learning syllables, Rebecca also enjoyed the Tic Tac Toe game. She chose to be the shortcut ch and I was the shortcut sh. She practiced how to slide the shortcuts of the ch and sh cards together with the ock, ick, ack, and uck, along with circling the shortcut sounds in the newspaper. Although it is mentioned in the CDs that, 99 percent of the time, most learners will pronounce ch as chu, for Rebecca it was different, because she was able to find several words in the newspaper with the ch sound such as school and ach. In addition, Rebecca also discovered that, she had to look at the whole word with accuracy before she could pick up speed.
This enabled her to read words and find the pictures that matched with the words, through marking the shortcuts by underlining them and circling the two for one sound. As mentioned in the CDs, reading is a form of communication and it should be done for a meaning; Rebecca enjoyed writing sentences, for example, she was able to write the sentence “I am going to school,” underline the shortcuts, and sound out the syllables in each word. Further, before moving to the next activity, we did the jumping jack song to the Aah-Buh-Cuh sound, which she was laughing as she sang it; therefore, proving the fact mentioned in the CDs that, fun and games make practicing to be more enjoyable. The CDs talk extensively about the backbone of words a, e, i, o and u also known as the vowels.
The weak sound in a word is a short vowel and the strong sound is a long vowel. Rebecca found after practicing that the vowels helped to pronounce out words when they are together. She practiced the exercise with the picture of Ethel while her hand was over her mouth. Through this, she was able to use the word kite by crossing out the letter e and said it to be the silent e.
One thing that Rebecca enjoyed most in the use of vowels is exercising with vowels ai and ay. In addition, she was able to write down the word spray, and drew a line with an arrow to give “a” the strength. Therefore, Rebecca learnt from the CDs and through practicing the exercises in the booklet that the ai should be in the middle of a word while ay should at the end of the word. Further, Rebecca practiced with the vowel sounds ea, ee as in double eat, ie, oa in the middle of a word, and oe at the end of a word. On the other hand, Rebecca found that the ui vowel is the most interesting and fun to work with. She laughed at how the woman on the CD pronounced the ui sound in England. Rebecca was also able to slide some pictures together, nail, and Eugene to get the word new and the picture of the soap, and tooth to get the word suit.
Lastly, Rebecca had a lot of fun with the drills and songs on CD three and four, and learned a lot about sounding out words with shortcuts, two for ones, and clapping out syllables. CDs five and six presented one of the best learning experiences on how to read and write some English words. Throughout this learning session, I worked with Jennifer at McDowell Mountain School who is learning to read and write.
We reviewed card 14 and clapped out the vowels, which enabled her to practise the long and short vowel sounds. Further, Jennifer did a great job reading the cards with the letter side up as she repeated the sounds of all the letters in addition to practising the long and short vowel sounds with the letter men and mean. From this experience she was able to blurt out the short e is in the men and the long e is in the word mean. CD five primarily talked about the letter y and how it is a cousin to the vowel I. Although at first to Jenifer this sounded very funny, after understanding that the y can sound like I or e, she was able to put words together and practice these sounds in words such as spy, fly, baby, and tricky. In addition, using this learnt knowledge, Jenifer was able to write words and sentences with the vowels y, as she was able to cross out the vowel and write e or I about the Y. Additionally, she was also able to mark the words in the sentences on page 50, where she learnt about quotation and questions marks in the sentences. She underlined the shortcuts; circled two for ones; made arrows with the vowels, and crossed out the y for e as she read the story on page 51.
Jenifer also read many other stories and as she read we talked about how visualising improves one’s memory and how it is an important part of reading. Through using the visualising technique, Jennifer was able to close her eyes after reading the sentences and tell me about the pictures in her head. Jennifer laughed and had fun as we practised with jumping jacks to the vowel sounds that make up words. Through this practise, she was able to learn that, sometimes the vowels do not follow the rules in certain words as in the word give, and live.
In addition, she was able to practise how to read and how to pay special attention to words that did not make sense. Further, she practised outlaw sentences and words as in active, promise, love and gone, as this was one the parts that is stressed in the CDs on a section that spoke on how outlaw words can cause problems unless an individual recognises them. She also practised on page 55 with the questions and fitting words that made sense as in, which word means to move fast, stop or hurry.
On the other hand, Jennifer enjoyed reading the stories and answering the questions at the end of each story, and for questions that she got the answers wrong, she would reread the story to find the correct answers. Through this, she was excited to learn that, this was the format she will be required to use in school for test taking. On the other hand, Jennifer had fun learning the two new sounds au and aw. She practised putting the letters in columns and words and constructing of words with the ou and ow. She thought it was funny when the cd talked about the girl pinching another girl to make the ow sound.
To make sure that she mastered these new sounds completely, she continued to read stories and sentences with these new sounds. In addition, Jennifer also practised the igh words that make the strong I sound as in light and the ign, ind and ild words. Lastly, Jennifer had a lot of fun playing the game “The Surprise Ship” because it helped her to master all the spellings and sounds, and to practise all the necessary reading and writing skills. When playing the game, she placed her marker on one of the ships and rolled the die and depending on the instructions which were contained in the square where the die fell, Jennifer had to obey the instructions on that square.
For example, when her die landed on the square that said say a sentence with the word ought in it, she said I bought a new dress. As she continued to play the game she landed on another ship and repeated the sounds below it, aught, alk, and her ABCs. Finally, we ended out exercises with the Treasure Hunt game to reinforce all sounds and spellings. When playing, Jennifer placed her marker on start and rolled the die. She sounded out all the sounds as she crossed, ui, ind, and then did jumping jacks to a-b-c, laughing as she went along. Generally, Jennifer did a great job completing the exercises and learning new sounds in CDs 5 and 6.
Learning and understanding of a new language is a very difficult experience if learning aids are not applied. Action reading program CD was used to help Eric Jennifer and Rebecca from McDowell Mountain elementary school to learn and understand a new language in an interesting way. Different applications of the application such as play cards, dices, games, pictures, shortcuts, highlighters and different drills were used by the students to help them understand different language basics such as usage of syllables and vowels.
Eric particularly enjoyed putting the pictures together to form words playing with the cards lining up the picture side of the cards and repeating the sound the picture made, he also liked learning with some text, as with the newspaper. It was interesting and fun for him and this also enabled him learn pretty fast. Rebecca loves to play and therefore, was excited about practicing the different tools used for learning the sounds of letters taught in CD three and CD four Rebecca was very exited and motivated by the different application tools since she loved playing.
She had a wonderful experience learning reading and writing from the beautiful applications from CD three and four especially the connection between phonics and other word skills. By starting with words with prefixes and suffixes she was captivated and with time she discovered that, she had to look at the whole word with accuracy before she could pick up speed. By practicing with the game applications and exercising she was able to learn quite fast. Jennifer too had her share of fun in the whole learning process and she particularly responded positively to the applications in CD five and six she laughed and had fun as we practised with jumping jacks to the vowel sounds that make up words. Action reading as a teaching and learning tool has been seen to take the whole teaching and learning to a whole new level.
Baby centre. (2011). Developmental Milestones: Talking. Baby Centre. Retrieved from http://www.babycentre.co.uk/toddler/development/speechandlanguage/milestonetalking/