A were f’r apple, b f’r banana, c f’r cat, ‘n the teacher, her spelled it out cer, ah, ter. ‘Twas enough to read Janet and John. Them wuz grate, but Biggles, ‘e were my fav’rit, ‘specially if ‘twer zunny, ‘n oi cd read outzoid.
Now, having read much more and travelled extensively before the age of eighteen, and since, I’ve had the advantage of many different education settings, in different countries. I had a strong Aussie twang at the age of eleven, which had to fade fast to survive in the traditional Grammar where 11 plus success sent me. It was that or the “bear pit” treatment.
I watch my grandchildren going through the same stages and I wonder. Today they not only learn about letters and sounds, but phonemes and graphemes, digraphs, trigraphs, medial sounds, blends, as if they are degree level linguists. Mind you, I still visit schools and see mis-formed letters and her children struggle with reading in exactly the way they have done for generations.
They are learning far more about the structures of language, as per the Government synthetic phonics requirement. They get guided reading support, take home books regularly and have supportive home and extended family. They are happy reading aloud, especially if snuggled on the sofa, and are delighted with the inevitable praise for their efforts. It’s the pleasure that promotes further effort, struggle, resilience, then success.
But, are they better readers than previous generations? Is the insistence on phonics, to the exclusion of many other aspects of reading development having an impact? I am not totally convinced. Within a broad reading diet, phonics is one tool to be learned. Putting the sounds into complete words and memorising those larger chunks improves fluency, with fluency allowing greater ability to comprehend. The “chunking” of sound groups into whole words and “words within words” allows a broad family of related ideas to be collated.
How many words can you find with “art” in them?
For starters, just using the alphabet as single letters, you get Bart, cart, dart, fart, hart, part, tart. These can be extended with –ing, further extending possibilities. So one small piece of learning can be explored and extended.
But I’ll guess that you were able to read it though and then reform it into received pronunciation.