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Section 1

Fast Track - Phomenic Awareness Research based Research has well established that developing phonemic awareness is a crucial early step in learning to read. Children do not naturally attend to the individual sounds in words. They simply focus on the meaning of the words they speak and hear. Developing awareness of the separate phonemes (sounds) spoken in words is essential for making sense of written language. Children need to be able to isolate those sounds orally (become phonemically aware) before they can link them to letter shapes (phonics) and use them to crack the alphabetic code. Letter shapes and sounds It is now widely accepted that a rigorous and systematic phonics programme is required to help children master the alphabetic principal, leading to reading independence and helping to prevent reading problems. Teaching grapheme phoneme correspondences provides a “powerful tool for translating speech into print.”1 Research has shown that children learn letter sounds more easily when they are taught with pictures embedded with the shape of the letter to help them recall the sounds.2 With Letterland’s Fast Track, children learn the 26 basic letter sounds within the first few weeks. This Letterland method has shown superior results in a controlled comparison and has been proven in practice by teachers all over the world. The Letterland children learned sounds and letter names faster and more completely even though letter names were not emphasised during the Fast Track.3

What is the Fast Track? It is a rapid, lift-off strategy using an oral memory game for a first access to the alphabetic code. It provides: • an oral multisensory activity right at the start of the year that develops children’s attention spans, listening skills, fosters daily group cooperation and helps to close the gap between children with little or no previous literacy experience and those with a lot • a 3-week ‘alphabet immersion’ experience, so every child has at least an acquaintance with all 26 lowercase letter shapes and their sounds, before going on to study them in depth • a child strategy for discovering a letter’s sound: The Sound Trick (page 181). Just START to say the character’s name, and then STOP, e.g. “Annie Apple, /ă/, Zig Zag Zebra, /zzz/.”

How do children see the Fast Track? Simply as a game. Children give the Fast Track routine their full attention because they can play it like a game similar to the popular “I packed my suitcase and in it I put…” memory game. In that game each player adds an item to be remembered. One important difference: this Fast Track ‘game’ has visual props (the Vocabulary Cards) to help the children remember each alliterative word. So it is an easy way to develop awareness of initial sounds.

1 Ashby and Rayner, Psychology of Reading, page 73. 2 Ehri, L., Deffner, N. and Wilce, L. (1984). Pictorial mnemonics for phonics. Journal of Educational Psychology. 76, 880-893. 3 Felton, R. and Crawford, E. (2009). Mnemonics and multisensory strategies: How important are these for teaching reading skills of at-risk students? Paper presented at the annual Conference of the International Dyslexia Association, Lake Buena Vista, Florida.


Section 1: Fast Track

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31/10/2013 20:57

Phonics Teacher's Guide  
Phonics Teacher's Guide  

This new edition of the Letterland Teacher’s Guide encompasses the fun of learning with Letterland friends, whilst ensuring that the core cr...