Literacy for Teens who ‘Don’t do education’

In the early years, That Reading Thing was used mostly with young people who had some connection to the local youth offending team, either in the YOS system or at risk of being on their books at some point. ‘I don’t do education’ was a common statement at the first session. That sentiment was echoed by a woman from the Basic Skills Agency who insisted, ‘You can’t just sit a young offender down at a table and teach them to … Read More

Ghoti = Fish (no it doesn’t)

Ghoti spells Fish. This thing still shows up on social media and still makes me sigh heavily for two reasons: 1. It still gets used by literacy professionals as ‘proof’ that the English language is ‘not phonetic’. Of course, we’re honest that English has a complex written code. There are a lot of ways to represent the sounds that we say. However – and this is a big deal for teen and adult literacy learners – the language is most … Read More

Books for struggling readers in high school

posted in: Secondary literacy

Books! I get asked every couple of weeks to recommend reading material for That Reading Thing students. I don’t know your students so the specific titles I offer might not work for them but please have a read of these guiding principles. Each link opens in a new tab. Apologies if you’re not crazy about that but it makes it easier to explore, meander and find your way back to the post. Books don’t turn struggling readers into readers. This … Read More

Explicit Literacy Instruction

There are two phrases we ask That Reading Thing tutors to avoid: Sound it out Break it down Why? Because our students have heard these two phrases their whole school lives and have no idea what they mean. The analogy I give is learning to build my first website. I started with the WordPress platform because I’d read about their ‘famous 5-minute install’. Brilliant! There were no YouTube demo videos back then so I found the simplest instructions for the … Read More

Accent survey results- ‘dog fox bought’

posted in: Secondary literacy

I created the survey to answer a question which arose in conversation with a British English speaker about the number of vowels in American English and my Canadian brain could not cope with ‘fox’ and ‘dog’ having different sounds. To hear the target vowels, go to this site, scroll down & click on the /ɒ/, /ɑ/ and /ɔ/ on the bottom right of the vowel diagram. Some North American speakers say the /ɔ/. All say either or both of /ɒ/ … Read More

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