Tom and Keri B Expert Lesson Notes
Introduction to the Teacher’s Lesson Notes
The format of the Teacher’s Lesson Notes in Level B is similar to Level A, but there is a greater focus on expanding language both in comprehension and speech.
It is a continuation of the Expert programme that targets the highest achievement rating in the Universal Preschool Course range. It is designed for teachers who are qualified to teach English and who deliver language lessons for more hours per class per week.
You will already have seen the principles of the Expert version in the introductions to the Starter Level and Level A so this introduction will add some thoughts on main additional element of the Expert course, written stories.
The key feature of the Expert version of the course is the inclusion of a series of storybooks. As children following Level B of the course are approaching the age when they will learn to read, I am focussing the introduction to Level B on providing some extra notes on how the storybooks prepare pupils for reading.
Storybooks for listening
There are 44 accepted phonics in English. However this is not the full story. Many learners of English as an additional language find letter combinations in English hard to pronounce and consider them to be additional phonics. It is also the case that the way words are said in practice in English is often slightly different from the phoneme or standard phonic sound.
The stories for Baby Beetles and Tom and Keri contain examples of the most common phonics, both simple and complex, plus examples of many of the spelling variations.
The table does not use the phonic symbols because most readers will not be familiar with them. It was felt to be more helpful to add example words to show by context how the sound is used.
As you can see, this is nearly double the official phonic tally.
This is why the recorded reading is so useful. Children can listen again and again to the reader, so that the sounds of the words become familiar. This will help them a great deal when they start to read English later because they will be able to anticipate what a written word might be, based on deciphering the first few letter sounds. There are so many irregular spellings in English that an audio bank of knowledge is very helpful to young readers.
Storybooks for patterns
Pattern reading or reading from ‘sight’ words is another accepted way that children decipher the written word. Children that have a first language based on symbols to memorise as images, such as Mandarin may learn English quicker by recognising letter combinations and patterns rather than ‘sounding out’ words one phonic at a time.
If children have listened to a story being read and followed the written images of those words with their eyes, a finger or both, then the transition at a later stage or deciphering the words themselves will be easier.
Examples of words that appear odd unless accepted by familiarity and matched early to their sounds include such common examples as: who, what, where, why, when.
Storybooks for syllable stress
Some languages have a maximum of two syllables in their concept sounds. English has words with many syllables and the position for the stress can change according to different uses of the stem of the word. An example in these stories is: present (a gift) but presenter (a person who presents). The meanings are different and the stress is different. There are also many examples of words in English that keep the same meaning but move the stress, depending whether the word is used as a verb, a noun or an adjective. This is unfamiliar to many other languages, so if children hear its use early in their language‑learning journey, they will accept and copy it correctly more readily.
There are a few additional subtle variations in sound that will be introduced at the next level as they are only used in more complex words such as the slight variation between the shan and shon sounds in ‘magician’ and ‘permission’.
Other orthographical rules and ‘sight’ words will be covered in reading later as they become more relevant once children are trying to decipher or read words for themselves. These include the irregular spellings that sound different but are spelt the same, or same sounds that are spelt differently. They are grouped in families and are best presented in a phonics course, such as those I have written. Examples include:
Oo: room/blue/you/too/to/crew/shoe etc
By the end of Level B Expert, pupils should feel comfortable expressing simple ideas and needs in English verbally and in recognising whether or not a piece of written text is in English (from the typical letter patterns). They will be comfortable listening to short paragraphs of English and feel able to pull out the words they know. This means that can start to build the skill of understanding meaning from context with only partial vocabulary knowledge.
This is a great start to becoming bilingual as they continue to learn more vocabulary, more complex grammar structures and as they add the next challenge to their future bilingual skills – learning to read.
I hope you enjoy using the course and will continue to use it for your future, bilingual pupils!
Claire Diana Selby