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Flaw in a Literacy Program

Flaw in a Literacy Program

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Published by Erin Pembroke

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Published by: Erin Pembroke on Feb 17, 2011
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02/17/2011

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Flaw in a Literacy Program2/16/2010 by: Erin PembrokeLiteracy programs are excellent tools to help people how to read and giving back to thecommunity can be full-filling. Literacy programs teach people how to read and write and some even go beyond that and teach people history, math and global events. However, just like everything else,literacy programs can and may have flaws that can be solved. I am currently at once such programwhere I have been trying to implement a solution to remedify the situation.I have been a volunteer teacher for several months at a literacy program at one of the Brooklynlibrary branches and although the program strives to teach its adult students, the program fails toacknowledge that there is a phonics problem among them. This is the one main and essential topic Ihave tried continously to bring up among the director of the program. Apparently, my strong and passionate concern it not important enough to be fully implemented. I am at a constant battle betweenwhat the literacy program asks for and requires of its tutors and the reality of the situation that mystudents are in.When I have tried to follow what the literacy program askes of me (which is for me to teach theadult students to read, write, do mathematics, and learn current events etc.), the phonics problem comesup again! How am I going to teach adults how to read basic words when they cannot even begin tosound the word out, pronounce it correctly to write and read it correctly? My students cannot break upthe syllables in the word and cannot sound the word out.They do not know the blending of the letters to make the blending of the sound. For instance,one of my students could not sound out the word “strike” and kept saying it was “speak” or “spoke.” Iasked her, “Do you see any “sp” in the word? You keep saying “sp” sound when the sound is a “st” asin street.” The blending of the “str” sound made it more complicated for my student to sound out theword “strike.” I had to continously, in a visual manner, break the word up for her in order for thestudent to get it.When my director asked me “How did everything go tonight?” I responded, “It is the same problem as before. The student does not know her phonics so she has problems with the words “strike,”“against,” “agree,” and “politics.” The director responded and said “Next time, read to her. Yep, justread to her.” I could not believe what the director told me to do. Logically speaking, if a person cannotsee the word, break up the word, know phonics and have been hearing words all their life, how is the person going to make the mental connection/association between what the word looks like, sounds likeand is pronounced?Just because a person has heard of a word such as the word “because” does not mean they will be able to recognize the word. They might spell it as “becouse,” “becos,” “becose”, “becoz” and“becoze.” Or they may spell the word in different variations. Their mental spelling of the word does notmatch up to the actual physical spelling of the word. Hence, they might not even recognize the wordunless they can sound it out, try to notice the difference and most importantly, be exposed to the wordwith the proper education. Trust me, I have seen this happen about a month ago in a male adult studentabout 40-50 years old. I had to continously in a visual manner break the word up for her in order for thestudent to get it.When I spoke to the director about a solution to the problem I cam up with to remedify the

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