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Phonics


Miya
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I teach English in Japan to Japanese middle schoolers and one of the biggest problems here is they don't teach phonics. It's one of the reasons why the kids can't speak English properly. I told my schools that I want to start teaching the 7th graders phonics from this school year (next week), but I'm not really sure where/how to start. I have a couple of CDs/worksheets available, but I reviewed them today and they don't seem to be very helpful. 

Does anyone have any ideas or can share with me how they learned phonics? The problem with teaching phonics to Japanese kids is there are sounds that don't exist in their language so they've literally NEVER heard the sound before. So even if I say the word 1000 times, they will still repeat it wrong. The "th" sound and the "L", "R", "B", and "V" sounds are especially hard for them. 

These kids are only 13 years old or so and they're just starting English so I don't want to do anything too complicated. What's the best way to teach kids phonics these days? Any help would be appreciated.

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  • 2 weeks later...

In my former office before, the way they teach phonics is with the help of a specially-made language learning software. In that program, kids do a lot of mirroring/repeating. Students get to listen to how certain letters sound, they get to record their own voice, and comparing them to the source audio. I think it helped a lot as when the kids listen to their own audio-recorded voice and compared to the source audio, they have better appreciation of how different they sound. So yeah, it involves A LOT of repetition.

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Unfortunately, my school doesn't have the program you described. We only have a CD and a native speaker (me). I guess my biggest problem is that the kids cannot -- they literally are not capable of, producing some sounds because they don't have it in their language and they've never heard it before. I tried to teach the word "water" and "thrill" to my kids and none of them could say it. I even told them where to move their tongue and all, but they just couldn't do it. I don't want to push them too hard because they're just getting started, but I know that if they don't get a good foundation, they're just going to struggle in the future.

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Teaching phonics is a good move, but as you told the children are now 13, so I think they will take some time to learn another language other than their native one. You can start with small phonics songs as this will be interesting for the kids too. I have seen many learning centers like English Ashburn, VA  do the same to teach English to the preschool kids.

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