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  • Writer's pictureAnn Sullivan

Introducing Phonics to Older Learners with SEND

I don’t know about you, but I seem to have an ever-expanding ‘to do’ list and an ever-diminishing amount of time to complete stuff. This is a source of endless frustration for me as there are some things that I have been staring at for months and just never seem to get around to. This is one of them, but I have resolved to put this right, just in time for the new school year in the UK.

I am often asked about how to begin instruction with an older learner who is, perhaps, new to phonics or has had different experiences of being taught to read and spell. Depending on the learner’s profile of needs, I may start by giving them a quick ‘training’ on how reading and spelling actually work. Honestly, that’s not quite as daunting as it sounds! By demonstrating how I read and spell words I can share some information about the alphabetic code, the skills we need to manage it and the knowledge we need to have. I consciously use the word ‘we’ there so that the learner feels they are being inducted into the club that all readers and spellers belong to, and that they aspire to be a member of. Of course, this is delivered in simple terms to make it as accessible as possible, and this approach may not be appropriate for learners with complex profiles of needs.

I’ve made a short video of the kind of things I cover and how I get them across. You might find this useful to show directly to your learners or you might watch it and feel that doing something ‘live’ yourself using your own words would be better. You can find the video on my YouTube channel: Thinking about Reading and Spelling.

For older learners this can be very powerful as it sets the scene for them and gives a rationale for the work to come on sounds and letters. Then the real work starts…

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