Saturday, October 30, 2010

Readeasy Multi-Sensory Teaching Instruction

According to Tony Buzan, the author of "Brain Child' the brain learns better if we use colours. In Readeasy Phonics, we use three main colours. Red are for vowels, black for consonants and blue for Look & Say words. The children will understand that red and black letters can be blended whereas blue words are to be memorized. These colour codes will help them decode words easily.

The brain also learns better if we use multisensory techniques. In Readeasy Teaching Instruction, multisensory techniques are used at all levels. We teach each sound by associating it to an action in a song. The sound /b/ is associated to the action of bouncing a ball while singing 'Bobby Bear b b b'; the sound /n/ is associated to the action of driving a race car while singing 'Nelly Nightingale n n n'.
When we relate a reading activity(left-brain activity) to singing(right-brain activity), we are optimizing the child's brain(ie using both sides of the brain) for learning. The child will be able to remember the sound & symbol with ease. The brain also remembers better if there are feelings involved when children are learning. Singing and doing an action for each sound with fun will help them remember the sound & symbol easily.

The children are also taught to touch sandpaper letters or form the letter using modelling clay for each sound that they learn. They are trained to say the sounds as they do these activites.

When reading/blending words, we advise teachers & parents to encourage their children to use their fingers to point to or tap the letters as they blend the sounds. Children should also use sound cards to form words. For some children who are lagging behind, we get the parents to do Listen & Build activity using sound cards with them at home so that they go through a sensory process when reading.

For spelling/segmenting, get the children to do karate chops for each sound that they say.

At the word or sentence level, do dictation with your children. Writing is a sensory process that will help reinforce their learning.

In my personal experience, no child will be left behind if you follow these steps when teaching them to read. Moreover the reading texts in Readeasy Phonics presents highly decodable texts.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

First Steps

When I teach my child to read and write, I make sure that:
  • he is able to say the speech sounds(phonemes).
  • he is aware that words are made up of speech sounds.
  • he recognizes the letters(graphemes) that represent the sounds.
  • he uses the correct hand movement for writing letters. For preschool children you can use Readeasy Activity Book 1 to practice letter formation.
  • he understands what he reads & writes. The first step to comprehension is to show him real objects or pictures of what he is reading.
  • he is able to use symbols(letters) to write his thoughts.
Keep these points in mind when teaching your child to read.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Blending Sounds To Read

Your child will learn to walk without anyone's help, But he/she WILL NOT necessarily learn to read.

Reading is a complex skill just like swimming & driving. It has to be taught step-by-step.Even if a child has acquired the skill to read, he/she has to practise to become a good reader, a good speller and a creative writer.

In Readeasy Beginner Level, children are first taught 3 sounds /k/-'c', /æ/ -'a' and /t/-'t'. Then they are trained to blend the sounds to read the word 'cat'.

Tips to teach blending(reading):
1. Play oral blending game with your child using words taught in Book 1, cat, bat, cab, cot & tot.
Say /k-æ-t/ a few times and encourage your child to blend a
ll the sounds and say 'cat'. Repeat with other words.

2. Show the blending process using sound cards(provided in the Readeasy set) at least twice. Say each sound quickly as you move the cards. Then read 'cat'.

3. Let your child move the cards as you say the sounds.

4. Let your child say the sounds as she herself moves the cards. Then read the word.

5. After teaching blending using cards, go into the book & encourage your child to read the words taught.

You can watch the Readeacy VCD Teaching Guide to have a better understanding or join our workshop for a hands-on teaching experience.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sound Games

Teaching my youngest son to read was much harder than teaching all 4 of my girls. Amir grew up with books. He loved to look at books with beautiful pictures. He loves to be read. He knows all the sounds taught through Cory Cat Phonics Song & also Lagu Fonik Abu Ada Ayam. If I say /kuh/..../a/.../t/ to him orally, he can blend all the sounds and say 'cat' easily.

BUT when I decided to teach him to read 'formally' using Readeasy at 3+, he REFUSED. There were times he threw the books to the floor. At other times he whined that the letters are TOO small. I couldn't get him to sit for even 2 minutes!

What can we do with kids like Amir?
1. Use SOUND CARDS to introduce the sound.(Refer my previous post). Use lower case letters ONLY.
In Readeasy Book 1, 3 consonants, c, b, t and 2 vowels, a, o are introduced. For each new sound, do multi-sensory activities - form letter shape using playdough, touch sandpaper letters, make letter collage, do fingerpainting(Amir's favourite).

Don't forget to teach your child to touch or fingerpaint the way the letter is written.

  • Sound Hop - throw sound cards on the floor. Encourage him to jump on the sound cards and say the sounds. Amir will insist that I jump on the cards & say the sounds too.
  • Sound Grab - stick the sound cards on the wall(I use Blu-tak). Say a sound and get him to run & bring the sound card to you. Encourage him to say the sound. Yup, be a sporting mum(or dad). Let him say the sound and you run to get the card.
  • Sound Hunt - Hide the sound cards around the room. Say a sound and encourage him to find as many corresponding cards. Don't forget to encourage him to say the sounds to you once he has found all the cards.
These simple games will keep him busy & happy for 20 minutes at least.

3. REWARD his achievements no matter how small it is. Swing him, lift him up in the air, give Hi5, etc.

4. Keep your reading session short. STOP before your child shows any signs of boredom.
5. Teach him 2 - 3 times a day.
6. Keep cool & have fun.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Reading Roadblocks

Writing systems are codes for SPOKEN LANGUAGE. Teaching your child a, b, c ... z(letter names) is the FIRST ROADBLOCK to reading. Letter names(ay, bee, cee) has no relationship whatasoever to the sound of speech these letters represent.

So STOP teaching your children abc. STOP forcing them to memorize & recite the alphabet. STOP making them memorize the upper & lower-case letters.

There is a BETTER way for the children to learn the alphabet. Teach them the SOUNDS.

You could use Cory Cat Phonics Song (VCD). We make learning speech sounds fun by associating the sound with an action. The Cory Cat VCD also comes with a set of flashcards and a colouring book.

Steps to introduce a sound:
1. Say 'buh' a few times.
2. Encourage your child to say after you.
3. Then show the symbol/letter 'b'. Point to the symbol and say "This is 'buh'.
4. Ask "What is this sound?"
5. Sing Bobby Bear b b b as you & your child pretend to bounce a ball.

Many parents ask me what other helpful activites can they do with their children to help them learn to read.

My suggestions:
1. TALK to your child.
Use good language. Don't use baby talk. For parents whose child's first language is NOT English, one of you has to use English most(if not all) of the time. According to research, Reading Accuracy & Fluency are enhanced if the word you are decoding(reading) already exist in the memory.

2. READ to your child.
Reading to your child will not only enrich her language but also familiarize him with the format of books. You could trace along the text with a finger as you read to your child. Thus training your child that reading is from left to right and from top to bottom.

3. DEVELOP your child's fine motor skills.
Developing your child's fine motor skills will help his eye-hand coordination which is very important when learning to read. Good fine motor skills will also enhance his writing skills. Give him lots of opportunities to roll playdough into small balls, squeeze water form a sponge, tear scrap papers, lace beads, play with blocks/puzzles & finger paint.

Don't miss the opportunity to HELP your child learn to read.

Friday, October 8, 2010

What's The Best Age To Teach Reading?

The issue of when to teach children to read is always hotly debated.
Many parents are beginning to teach reading early, and many children are learning to read at preschools. But there are also many parents & educators who believe that early reading harms children.

Regardless of which option we choose, learning to read is not an option. Children MUST learn to read. Reading is the very foundation of academic success.

Dr Glen Doman,
founder of the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential
, says the best age is between 3 - 5. Dr Robert Titzer, founder of Your Baby Can Read, says from birth to 4.

As for me, a mother of 6 children & also a Reading Specialist, I started 'teaching' as early as when the baby is in the womb. I divide my 'teaching' into 2 parts. The first part(birth - 3yrs old) is for early literacy & the second part(above 3 years) is the formal reading lessons. For Malaysians, go to www.cepatmembaca.blogspot to get tips on what you can do to stimulate your baby during pregnancy.

Bear in mind to enjoy what you are doing. Never force lessons into your tiny baby and make sure your baby is fed and not sleepy during your stimulation sessions.
Have fun!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sound Song

Most children like songs. In my nursery schools, we teach children as early as one year, to sing this action phonic song . Our Cory Cat Phonics Song will help children say sounds through actions.

They pretend to bounce a ball as they sing "Bobby Bear b b b ".

By the time they are 3 years old, many are ready to learn to read more formally(ehem I suggest you use Readeasy Phonics Beginner Level).

To make learning sounds more meaningful for children(2 yrs and above), do multi-sensory activities :

1. Use water colour to finger paint the letters. Teacher/Parent models how to write the letter being taught for the week. It is very important for the children to learn the right way each letter is written. Children dip their fingers in the paint & practice writing the letter on their own. Encourage the them to say the sound as they write.

2. Sound Collage - Children paste paper, cotton, fabric, beans on letter shapes. Don't forget to ask them to say the sound(not letter names) as they do the activity.

3. Writing on wet sand. Ask your child to write the letter in the sand using his fingers while saying the sound. The feel of the sand will make the letters feel more real and help them remember the sound that each letter makes.
  • Level the sand after each letter so as not to confuse your child.
4. Form letter using modelling clay. As in finger painting teacher/parent models how to form the sound taught using modelling clay. For 2-4 year olds, they need a letter template to help them.

Research has shown that children learn to spell better if they have made tactile and physical associations with sounds/& letters.

Have fun with your child.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Speech Sounds In English

In order to teach reading effectively, teachers or parents must have adequate knowledge on the English Alphabet Code.

Let's begin by understanding there are 44 speech sounds(phonemes) in English. 24 are consonant sounds and the rest are vowel sounds.

However the English Alphabetic Code is one of the most complex writing systems in the world. If it was simple, each sound would only have one spelling. But it is not so. In English, some sounds can
be represented by more than one spelling(i.e. spelling alternatives). For example the sound /k/ can be represented by 'c', 'k', 'ck' and 'ch' to name a few.

Also a spelling pattern can represent more than one sound(i.e.code overlaps). For example, the letter 'i' has different sounds in words 'bit' and 'find'.

The first step that we can take is to learn to say the speech sounds in English. Speech sounds are not letter names. Learn to say the sounds by watching Readeasy Phonics VCD. The VCD is given free if you buy Readeasy Phonics Reading Series which is only RM39.90. The VCD contains speech sounds taught in Beginner Level, teaching tips and also the correct pronunciation of picture names used in the series (all for only under RM40... oh and free flash cards too!)

But if you are free on weekends, do come and join me in my workshops. Call READNETWORK 03-41435440 for upcoming workshops.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Say NO to Word Rhyme Phonics

The 'at' word rhyme/family:

/c/ (kuh), /at/ (at) ... /c
/b/ (buh), /at/ (at) ... /b
/m/ (mm), /at/ (at) ... /m
/s/ (ss), /at/ (at) ... /s

First, children are taught letter sounds, c - kuh, b - buh, d - duh, ...

Then they memorize 'word rhymes or families' such as '
at', 'it', 'op', ... as one sound.

When it comes to reading a word such as 'cat', they are taught to blend :
/c/ (kuh), /at/ (at), /cat/, and other words ending with ''
at'(eg. sat, pat, mat).
The word ending '
at' is taught as ONE sound.

At a glance, it looks quite simple & easy for children to follow.

However, it is a wrong method.
The rhymes
'at', 'it', 'op' are NOT ONE sound. They are made up of TWO sounds.

at'.... /a/ + /t/
it'... /i/ + /t/
op' .../o/ + /p/

Do you know that there are 1260 possible rhyming endings in English? It is close to impossible to teach ALL these rhymes. Many end up just teaching a fraction of them, inevitably leading to Reading Failure.

Moreover, some also teach consonant clusters or blends as ONE sound:
'br', 'cl', 'st', 'nd', 'mp', 'nk',..., when actually they are made up of TWO sounds.

Do you know that there are 76 consonant clusters in English? And do you know that many common phonics programmes teach these clusters as if they are 76 new sounds?!

If you choose to teach your child to read using the Word Rhyme Phonics, you will be teaching them to memorize 1260 endings + 76 consonant clusters + 44 phonemes). Thus, you will be wasting your child's precious visual memory on redundant information.

We should actually teach them the smallest speech sounds(phonemes). In English, there are 44 phonemes and that's about all you should teach. Why should we teach more than that? Why should we teach hundreds of ending rhymes?

As Professor Diane McGuiness wrote in her book, 'Why Our Children Can't Read?', "No reading method should ever teach children to read whole words, syllables or syllable parts like rhymes."

So say NO to Word Rhyme Phonics. And sat YES to Readeasy Phonics, a simple step-by-step way of teaching reading & writing.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ayo Why Phonics??

"Ayo why phonics?"
"Don't teach a b c first? Cannot laa, Year 1 must teach abc. If not how to write?"
"Teach sounds only? How children going to spell?"
" Funnyla, /s-
ɪ-t/, (ss-ih-tuh), sit; /p-e-t/, (puh-eh-tuh), pet."

These are common comments from parents, teachers, Guru Besars, education officers, & others who are not FAMILIAR with phonics.

Let's open up our horizons. If you surf the net on synthetic phonics you will realise that it is a proven method. For the last few years, phonics practitioners(me too) are celebrating their success in teaching reading to kids. Those who are still doubtful, give yourselves 2 weeks to follow step-by-step Readeasy Phonics Early Reading Series. Are you game? Find yourself a 5-7 year old to teach.

Tips for parents:
1. Do NOT teach the names of the alphabet. STRICTLY NO a(ay), b(bee), c(cee)!
Why? Simply because the brain reads by breaking the words into sounds(speech sounds), not letters names. For example, when you see the word 'book', you don't read it as 'bee-o-o-kay' but as /b

2. *Keep the reading session short, 5-10 minutes, 2-3 times a day. Teach reading everyday.

3. Find a suitable spot for your reading session.

4. Be cool(because I know our patience is easily stretched when teaching kids) & make your lessons fun.

5. Praise/Reward your child for any achievements, however small it is.

NOTE:* If you are a preschool teacher, you can have 15-20 students in a group. Reading lesson should be at least 30minutes per day.
In primary school classrooms, you will have more students. Lessons should be 1 hour everyday. I would suggest students are grouped according to their reading abilities & slow learners be given 1-1 help.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

What Is Phonics?

Many Malaysian teachers will say that phonics is teaching letter sounds(letters to sounds). It's like saying 'letters have sounds'.

Well, I'm sorry to disappoint, but letters have NO sound. Have you tried putting a letter card to your ear? I've done so many times to prove my point. You will not hear any sound.

Thus, it is wrong to teach children that letters have sounds for a number of reasons.
Instead, we should teach them that speech sounds are represented by letters or group of letters(sounds to letters).

This is what we do in Readeasy Phonics.

We teach children 2 basic things.

1. Sounds are represented by letters/symbols.
For example the sound /t/, (tuh), is represented by letter 't'.
The sound /
ʃ/, (sh), is represented by grapheme 'sh'.

2. To blend sounds together to read words.
For example /b/ - /
ɪ/ - /t/..../bit/.

Readeasy Phonics
is the FIRST and ONLY Synthetic Phonics reading programme in Malaysia, since 2001.

Synthetic phonics is a method of teaching reading which first teaches the smallest speech sounds and then builds up to blending these sounds together to achieve full pronunciation of words.

In the United Kingdom, the government has given a go-ahead for children to be taught to read PRIMARILY using the synthetic phonics method since 2006.

Also, a previous study in Scotland found out that children taught to read using the synthetic phonics method, were three years ahead of children who learnt by other methods.

As for me, I began using synthetic phonics(now Bacalah Anakku series) to teach my third child Athirah to read in Bahasa Malaysia in1995. It was an amazing experience. She became an independent reader in just a month. After publishing Bacalah Anakku in 1997, a lot of people encouraged me to write an English version of Bacalah Anakku. Alhamdulillah, in 2001 Readeasy Beginner Level was published.

For the past 9 years, I've met a lot of 6-yr-olds (Malay children), whose first language is NOT English, read in English fluently. There were many times I was overwhelmed when I saw Kelantanese children(kindergarteners ) reading in English!(Our home is in Kelantan).
And the best thing was that they were taught to read using Readeasy Phonics.

An experienced phonics teacher, Pn Kamariah, from Kemas Kindergarten , will always bring her students to show us how well they read in English whenever we go to Kuantan. Kindergarten teachers, operators, and parents who have used Readeasy Phonics are always happy to tell us how Readeasy Phonics has given their children a headstart in English.

My husband and I have been conducting phonics workshops for parents & teachers for the last 12 years. And we( others too) were always saying, "when is the KPM/MOE going to use synthetic phonics in schools to teach reading..." And out of the blue last year, Tan Sri Muhyiddin made the historic announcement.... phonics for Year 1 starting 2011.

Furthermore, the Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka(DBP) had appointed my husband and I as Phonics Consultants to help the Year 1 English Textbook Writers understand phonics better.

I'm sure that many primary school teachers are still 'blurred' about synthetic phonics. So. the least we can do is share our experiences & ideas on how to teach reading to small children in this blog.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Welcome to ReadeasyTeachersClub Blog

Hi, I have made this blog so that I can share ideas with parents & other English teachers on how to teach children to read using phonics.

I've taught all 6 of my children to read in Bahasa Malaysia & also English successfully using my method Bacalah Anakku & Readeasy for the last 20 years.

Believe me, phonics is THE EASIEST & LEAST STRESSFULL method we can use to teach reading. I taught my 4 year old to read in 40 days. And I know many have taught their 6 year olds in 2 to 3 weeks( Wow!) because some have called to tell me their successful stories & to say thank you for writing the books. YOU are MOST welcome. The reason why I resigned from being an English teacher with KPM(Kementerian Pelajaran Msia) is because I wanted to share what I did with others. I wanted to give Malaysian kids the opportunity to learn to read at an early age. So YOUR SUCCESS is MY SUCCESS.

And next year (2011), the KPM has decided to use phonics to teach school children, starting Year 1, to read. It's official. Visit

I'm definitely excited, I hope the Year 1 teachers are too :)) Anyway if anyone has problems using phonics we could always talk about it in this blog.

Kudos to KPM