Sunday March 14, 2010
An innovative teaching method
Exploring English by KEITH W.WRIGHT
In previous columns, 10 English teaching methodologies have been considered briefly to give a general appreciation of some of the methods used to impart the six English Macro language skills of Reading, Listening, Viewing, Speaking, Writing and Interpreting.
This article will highlight a very modern, accelerated, teaching methodology: The 4S Approach To Literacy And Language (4S).
The 4S approach is an innovative, fast-track, total word methodology designed to repair, raise, refine and reinforce personal English language skills.
It bridges and incorporates many of the positive attributes of other teaching methods such as Cognitive Code, the Phonic and Situational and Notional–Functional methods as well as the Whole Word–Look And Say approach.
4S — which stands for Symbols, Sounds, Sight, and Self — can be introduced at any age and skill level and is for lifelong learning.
Where a bilingual facilitator or teacher is not available, learners need basic conversational English skills.
It is an intensive course that (a) teaches about the English language, (b) provides accelerated learning techniques and tools, and (c) repairs personal, illiteracy problems. At the same time, it also raises and develops the language talents of medium and higher skilled learners.
The methodology emphasises the importance of knowing and understanding:
·the characteristics of the English language, for example, how some symbols (letters) can make more than one sound, e.g. “c” = camel – city – cello – cuisine. Meanwhile, different symbols can make the same sound, e.g. “k” = key – cane – mosque – track – ache.
·word structures, and that the vast majority of English words are “syllabic”, e.g. departmental = de/part/ment/al and are made from symbol combinations (clusters) not from single letters. For example, clock is cl + ock, and NOT c+l+o+c+k.
·the relationships between words, i.e. phonic, structural or graphical, base word, root word, and functional.
For example, the words lotion, motion and potion have a phonic (sound) relationship, while word, world, work, worth and worm are structurally similar.
The base word of farm, farmer and farming is the same, while porter, reporter, transporting and exported share a root word.
A functional (descriptive) relationship describes cold, hot, deep, fast, tall and green.
This methodology teaches the “why’s” of English — why words are pronounced and spelt the way the are, and why they can mean what they mean.
It is also highly graphical, using pictures to support context, which in turn explains the meaning of words and enhances comprehension.
Some of the accelerated learning and teaching techniques include:
·Sound and word “families” for improving spelling and pronunciation: butter, gutter, shutter, mutter, stutter, flutter, etc. – pound, impounded, compounding, pounds, etc.
·Skills transfer for recognizing the common attributes of related words. For example, if one can recognise, spell and pronounce “shark”, by knowing the sound of “sh” and “ar”, it is easy to transfer that knowledge to pronounce and spell park, bark, mark, dark, stark, etc. as well as “sharp”.
·Keys to understanding pronunciation and spelling. For example, why does “seat” say “seeee..t..” and not “see…at”?
The 4S Key teaches: “When two vowels go out walking, the first one usually does the talking.”
This means that when there are two vowels together in a word, the first vowel is usually pronounced but the second one is silent. When one knows this Key, not only can one pronounce and spell “seat” but also meat, beat, heat, please, repeat, release, etc.
Moreover, if one understands why “seat” says what it says, one also quickly understands why “boat” – “train” – “wait” – “tie” – “fuel”, etc. say what they say, because they all have two vowels together.
The approach also teaches how to “create” new words by exchanging the frontal, middle and final symbols and sounds in words, such as “retain” to “detain”, “extensive” to “expensive”, and “frontal” to “frontier”.
When learners “create” new words themselves, they remember them because ownership maximises memory and retention.
This methodology also takes a functional approach to teaching grammar, and as with literacy, places a major emphasis on understanding the English language as the prerequisite to using it with confidence and competence and for maximizing retention.
In this sense, 4S is “experiential”, providing learners with relevant, practical and appropriate language-based, situational experiences that develop and enhance their personal language talents, equipping them for everyday communicative situations.
The 4S approach can be used to underpin, enhance or even replace an existing method to teach English.
In the next article, consideration will be given to factors that should be considered by teachers from the learners’ aspect when a teaching methodology is being adopted.
n Keith Wright is the author and creator of the 4S Approach To Literacy and Language (4S) — a modern, innovative and proven method of accelerating the learning of English.
He is also the Director of International Language Academy (ILA).
The 4S methodology and the associated Accelerated English Program (AEP) mentioned in this fortnightly column are now being used internationally to enhance the English language proficiency of people from a diverse range of cultures and with different competency levels.
contact@4Sliteracy.com.au for a free copy of the 4S chart, The “or..” Sounding r- Combinations.