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Old 12.09.2008, 19:37
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Teaching/ improving kids' reading in English

Hi all

I have two kids in French-speaking Swiss school, a boy of 8 and a girl of 4. Whilst I'm doing everything I can to encourage their French, I'm naturally keen for them to also gain/ improve skills in English reading and writing.

I've found a number of helpful resources, so thought I'd put a post together outlining the ones I'm using, in case it's of help to others.

I'm using the following:

- a UK-based scheme called Jolly Phonics, which is used in many primary schools now (my son was taught using this in Reception 4 yrs ago). You can find info about it here: http://www.jollylearning.co.uk/ and all the elements can be purchased on UK Amazon or The Book Depository (free delivery to here!). As a minimum, I would recommend the workbook and the poster frieze; everything else is a 'nice to have'. (I've cut the frieze up into separate letter sounds, and stick a new one up on my daughter's wall once we've learnt it; she loves showing off her new letter to daddy at bedtime).

(Incidentally, this exact scheme is also available in French - La Manual Phonique - also available on Amazon/ Book Depository, and I've just used this version to teach my 8 yr old how to break down words in French for help with reading and spelling tests. He has the posters up on his wall, and regularly looks at them to help him figure out his spelling list words.)

- a US-based online reading scheme: http://www.readinga-z.com. This costs around $80 a year, but I feel is worth every penny. It gives you a lesson plan for EVERY letter sound - letter sound, not just letter, so there's a plan for 'oo', 'th', 'ch', etc - and then there are thousands of graded reading books that can be printed and read by the child, from the 'Nan sat in a pan' level right up to top primary. As an added bonus, there are a few hundred graded reading books in French (and Spanish), which I'm using with my son (who's one term into schooling in French).

This solves one of the major problems of teaching reading at home - even once you've covered off the actual teaching, you need MASSES of those 'one sentence a page' early readers for the child to churn through. At the higher levels, there's an excellent range of fiction and non-fiction to suit all tastes (my son's reading stuff about castles, volcanoes and the Titanic), with suggested add-on activities to 'talk/ work around' the actual book. The site has some free samples available, so you can take a look and see if it would suit you before subscribing.

I'm also using some workbooks from these people: http://www.schofieldandsims.co.uk/. The workbooks are around £2.50 each and cover all key primary subjects from ages 3-11. The delivery to Switzerland is £3.85 and they turn up within a week. There's a nice range of laminated posters too, with key grammar points, inventors, kings and queens, stuff like that. Again, you can view samples online before ordering, to see if it's what you're looking for and what level you would need.

(Note: watch the delivery charge on this site - I got carried away and put about 20 things in my basket only to find the delivery charge went up to about £50! I backed a few books out, and it then dropped down to £3.85 again - there's obviously some weight cut-off at which it goes to a special courier rather than regular post. I got 16 workbooks and 3 posters for my standard delivery charge.)

They're my main systems, but I also find this site helpful for my daughter: www.starfall.com, for reinforcement and those days when she doesn't really want to do more 'school'.

My little one's coming on nicely with these reading schemes - I started teaching her about 3 months ago and she knows about 25 letter sounds and can sound out words like 'sit', 'best', 'pink' and so on. We read together quite a lot, and she's recently started picking out the letters she knows and attempting to work out some of the easier words in the book. She's got the basic concept that a word consists of sounds that combine to say the word, each of which is represented by a letter symbol, so I'd say we're most of the way there. Both the schemes above also cover off the idea of 'tricky words' or 'sight words' which can't be sounded out, which has been the traditional problem with most English phonic schemes.

I'm also encouraging her to use her newfound skills to find the names of the TV shows she wants to watch once they're recorded in our digibox - this is proving to be incredibly motivating!

I'm not doing too much English work with my son at present, as it's only his second term in French. He likes the printable readers, though, and I'll start sneaking in the workbooks after Christmas (his spelling in English, always very good, has fallen off a cliff since moving here in April!)

Hope this helps - anyone else got hints/ experiences of keeping up their kids' English?

kodokan
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Old 13.09.2008, 07:57
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Re: Teaching/ improving kids' reading in English

Our daughter goes to an english school - she is taught in english I should say, she reads like fury and I think that is down to Jolly Phonics. At her last school they used this system and it works.
Best letter to do the actions for is 'U'
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Old 13.09.2008, 08:42
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Re: Teaching/ improving kids' reading in English

Our kids learned the jolly phonics system in Australia. I thought it was a bit weird at first with the actions and the sounds, but I would go up and help out at reading time and the actions really seemed to help the kids remember the sounds and they enjoyed learning them.
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Old 13.09.2008, 17:34
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Re: Teaching/ improving kids' reading in English

Quote:
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Best letter to do the actions for is 'U'
Apparently I'm a complete innocent - I had to actually do the action to find out what you meant! Good job my daughter's already learnt this one, as I'd never be able to keep a straight face if I had to demonstrate it now.

(For those not familiar with the Jolly Phonics system, the letter sound 'uh' is mimed by pretending to put up an umbrella; close your fists and stack your hands in a 'one potato, two potato' fashion and then lift your top hand up and down whilst chanting 'uh, uh, uh...'. Can't believe I never noticed that *smacks forehead*.)

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Old 13.09.2008, 17:42
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Re: Teaching/ improving kids' reading in English

I've been using Letter Land with non English speaking children for quite a few years. There was major jealousy going on in the class when one young lad claimed he was moving there! It turned out his parents were locating to Letland!
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Old 13.09.2008, 19:00
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Re: Teaching/ improving kids' reading in English

Kodokan, thanks for the great links. I'm also concerned about keeping up with my son's English and it's great to have these useful suggestions.
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