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Thursday, November 11, 2004


John Hough

Excuse me. But. Um. You're just dead wrong. No one at all learns 'ough'='uff'. They try the 'through', 'plough', or 'though' 'ough' sounds until you correct them.


I stand corrected. Bad example. Thanks, JH.


I LOVE reading your blog. I'm not even an "ed" type. My mother was an elementary school teacher 40 years ago, and she has carried a great deal of frustration with her ever since then from being told NOT to teach phonics even though it was clearly effective and parents were asking her to keep using it. So I grew up with her ranting about the stupid "look-see" method and the NEA (she worked with it in DC in the 60s and was very unimpressed with the drinking and sleeping around that she observed going on with the people in it) and other things she believed got in the way of a real education for public school children. I remember her teaching me to read when I was in kindergarten. (Despite this accomplishment, the kindergarten teachers were still hesitant to advance me because I couldn't tie my shoes...huh? is that what we go to school for?) She used MacGuffey readers and possibly other simple phonics readers, and I became the most voracious bookworm of the family. When I was a teenager, I realized just how easy and logical phonics was when I helped my baby brother learn to read. I didn't have any formal education on how to teach reading - nada, zip. But I sat there with my little brother sounding things out and he learned how! (Now that he's in college and has to write, I'm hoping he finally decides that using proper spelling and punctuation are worth the effort - is it the trend now for all teenagers to be so sloppy in writing emails?!)
The children in my family were almost completely public-schooled, with only a few forays for the occasional child into a private school or a semester of home-school. (There was the 8th grade year I spent half of at home watching soap operas while learning algebra from a workbork and doing Spanish conjugation exercises set for my by my dad who was learning it himself. I now speak 4 (almost 5) languages and have a BS in Math, so that must have been a VERY effective semester despite the soaps.) I'm planning to home school my children for part of their lives, so I really appreciate Professor Plum sharing his knowledge on how to instruct children. Keep it up!
By the way, I've learned two languages that are almost 100% phonetic with their writing - and the literacy rates in those countries is quite high for the native language despite abject poverty and abysmal school funding in one of the countries. I'll bet reading teachers from these two countries would look at you with disbelief (and question your mental abilities) if you told them to use whole language instruction. There's really no justification for it when every letter is pronounced the same in every word. Aah, our crazy English hodgepodge - but it's so much fun having four different, varying, diverse, and dissimilar ways to say the same thing!

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