Category Archives: Orthography

Morphological Awareness is Ready for its Close-up

Morphological Awareness and Dyslexia

Do you feel that? That’s the tides turning. That’s minds shifting. That is what a true understanding of the English writing system will do, it will shift the way we teach our kids, because it shifts the way we, as educators and scholars, understand our own language. And I am not just talking about kids with dyslexia, I am talking about all kids. Because there’s a new, but not-so-new to linguists, game in town and it’s the truth about the English language, and it  ain’t written syllables baby.

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Dyslexia and the Nonsense Word Conundrum

Dyslexia and the Nonsense Word Conundrum - DyslexiaTrainingInstitute

The use of nonsense words in intervention programs for reading and spelling to struggling readers is ubiquitous. It is ubiquitous in assessments too. Publishers use the rationale that nonsense words help the teacher and assessor know whether or not the student is able to transfer what they have learned about decoding to new words and this signals progress. The problem with this is twofold. First, many of the nonsense words that are used are not possible letter strings in the English language. (For a detailed and well-support description of this, please read Gina Cooke’s article). Secondly, the English writing system is based on meaning before phonology, so when a student is reading a word with no meaning, it can be impossible to really determine what the correct pronunciation is. In teacher trainings, we always ask the group, how do you pronounce the letter string *<chom>? The answer we always get is /chom/ or [ʧɑm] in IPA. The problem with this answer, is that the correct answer is really, we can’t know what the correct pronunciation is until we know what the word is. In the case of a digraph like <ch> the meaning and etymology of the word will drive the pronunciation. Look at the following three common words: chip, machine and ache. Their histories drive their pronunciations, so how in the world can a student know which is correct?

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Structured Word Inquiry and OG

Do Structured Word Inquiry and Orton-Gillingham Go Together

Have you heard the buzz about Structured Word Inquiry (SWI)? Are you curious how Structured Word Inquiry answers the call for Structured Literacy for our students with dyslexia? No one can explain it better than Gina Cooke does in the following article, Is This OG?, from Linguist-Educator Exchange. But you must read it, and I mean read it carefully, with an open mind and an understanding that we do the best we can with the information we have at the time. So, what will you do with the new information you are about to acquire?

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Phonesthemes

Phonesthemes by Dr Kelli Sandman Hurley from Dyslexia Training Institute

Do you snarl when you say snivel, snout, snoot, snub, snot, snob or snotty? Do you feel a certain sensation or emotion when you say sneer, sneeze, snoop? Maybe you curl your lip or say them with your teeth close together. Did you notice that words that have meaning related to the mouth or nose can start with the same two letters like the <sn> in snore.  These letter strings that coincide with feelings and sounds are called phonesthemes which is derived from Greek φωνή phone, “sound”, and αἴσθημα aisthema, “perception” from αίσθάνομαι aisthanomai, “I perceive”.

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