I have just started to teach a struggling reader in Year 1. The first thing I observed from my assessment was that she did not use ‘pure phonic sounds’, also known as ‘precise pronunciation’. Many of the consonants were pronounced with an added ‘uh’ sound: /k/ was pronounced ‘kuh’; /p/ was pronounced ‘puh’, etc. This is curious, as synthetic phonics is taught in the school.
Why is this important to correct? Precise pronunciation makes it easier to blend sounds into recognisable words. If you try to blend the sounds /p/ /a/ /t/ into a word but pronounce the phonemes ‘puh-a-tuh’ – it is much harder to hear the blended word. As many struggling readers have difficulty with blending sounds into words, it is important to remove additional sounds that make this even harder.
So here’s a fun way to get children to practise precise pronunciation:
First identify the letters that are not pronounced precisely. My pupil needs to practise: t, p, n, c, h, j, v, l, w, y, z, x.
Make 4 cards with for each of these target sounds.
Underline the letters that can be confused when held upside down e.g. b/d/, p/q, t/f/, w/m
Shuffle the cards and divide into two packs.
Play ‘Sound Snap’. The rules are: Players take turns to take a card from the top of their pile, turn it over and say the sound of the letter with precise pronunciation and then place it in the middle pile.
If two of the same letters are placed one on top of the other, the first player to slam their hand on the pack and call “SNAP!” takes all the cards from the middle pile. The game goes on until the winner has all the cards.
Make sure that the pupil pronounces the letters correctly. Model if necessary.
Send home as ‘homework’. It is great if the parents call also learn this pronunciation as it will help with future reading with the child.
If you would like to hear the sounds of consonants here is the link to our You Tube video clip: