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Post-16 & Adult Literacy – Page 4 – That Reading Thing

How to make phonics suitable for teens and adults

When people hear “phonics” they think “childish”, and not without reason. Most phonics programmes are childish, but not because they teach reading using the sounds and symbols of the language. They’re childish because they’re created for little children, emergent readers who have no history of trying and failing to learn to read. There are some wonderful programmes for little ones. The problem with using any teaching method intended for young children is that you automatically infantilise the learner no matter … Read More

Who’s in Control?

This question is for anyone who delivers literacy to older struggling readers. “Older” here can mean 12, 20 or 68 – that is, anyone who’s old enough to be embarrassed by their poor reading. How much control does your student have in your lessons? I ask that because a new TRT tutor emailed with the following: So, I have been working with _______ who is ______ years old. (fill in your own student name and age) I think he has … Read More

Education in Prisons

Dame Sally Coates’ review of prison education was published recently and I’d like to add some thoughts. Having spent fourteen months working in the pre-release unit of a large men’s prison, I come to this with huge respect for the fact that prisons are complex environments in which to achieve almost anything. Most of what interested me is in Chapter 3: “A personalised and inclusive approach to learning” and I want to discuss the disconnection between recognising the huge proportion … Read More

Literacy Methods: Shame or Safety?

I was speaking at a high school where I had one hour to train 30 staff members in spelling with the English code which meant no time for the usual asides, quips or soapbox moments. I found myself saying, “I love the idea of very high expectations, but…” and moving on before I could expound. I did get to share this slide, but, again, with no time to discuss the concept of every classroom being a “shame free learning space”. … Read More

Reading & Spelling with a Visual Learner

Dusted off and polished up – because the myth of learning styles never goes away. Not all That Reading Thing students are disaffected and disengaged. Pete is in his twenties and formally diagnosed as severely dyslexic. He reads well but his spelling is a huge embarrassment to him. He’s accomplished in many other areas and can clearly explain his strategies for reading and writing. Reading: “I know all the words by sight”. (and he does – sort of) Spelling: “I … Read More

four floor flour – Sight or Sound?

Many dyslexic adults can read a lot but experience anxiety when required to read aloud, so I decided to practise reading Trivial Pursuit question cards. The difficult bit was not what I expected. “Which musical did the Daily Express hail: A fine, four-fendered, fabulous night?” The word that stumped Pete here was four, not because he didn’t recognise it but because it had been filed in his memory in the same slot as flour and floor and those three words … Read More

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