How I teach phonics – a thread.
As I just mentioned, I’m confident that my year 7 learners of French would ace a new GCSE style read-aloud test, this is what I do. I hope it’s of use! #mfltwitterati
All my students have the back page of their book divided into three columns, labelled letter – sound- example. After that I am led by them. I listen carefully to what they say and if there is a mispronunciation, we jump on it.
We break it down – we write the letter(s) (eg oi). I might say a few words with oi and elicit what oi ‘says’. Eg un, deux, trois. Croissant. Etc. We end up with something like ‘wuh’ in the ‘sound’ column, trois and croissant in the example column. I write all this on the board.
Then we carry on with what we were doing until the next time.
If a learner says they ‘don’t know how to say it’ we ‘sound it out’. We go back to our letter-sound-example page. I check with them whether they have those sounds on their page (each class ends up with a slightly different list, and this also allows for individual absences.)
We break down the word into syllables to see what we can do, and we work as a team!
I also don’t shy away from technical terms – é is ‘e acute’ in English or ‘e accent aigu’ in French; we talk about cedillas, etc.
It’s a repeated theme that pronouncing (even) French is a ton easier than pronouncing English (write ‘ough’ on the board and ask the kids how that’s pronounced; ask an EAL learner whether they find SSC easy in English).
Remind them that even if, in French, you can have a whole lot of different letter combinations to make the same sound (é, ez, er), they will always say the same sound (I know this is a slight simplification in French but not too much).
We also talk about the silent final letters zxpdtns – you don’t pronounce them because they’ve gone on zoo expeditions. (thanks @SuzanneJaneGrah et al for that gem). And then we talk about the mean final ‘e’ that stops the letters going to the zoo.
If a silent final consonant gets pronounced, I ask where it’s gone and am usually told it’s at the zoo.
A plain ‘e’ can cause problems but again you can dine out on the pattern. I write ‘le’ on the board’. Hey kids, what does this say? Call out! Ditto ‘je’. ‘me’ ce. Now rub out all the initial consonants so you’re left with just e’s ‘So in this case, what does this say?
I talk about the lack of diphthongs in French to get them to keep their vowel sounds to monothongs… I usually get them to make a northern ‘eh’ sound to compare it with a more southern ‘ay’ sound in English (we are in Oxford).
I go silly / shocking now and then – if they say ‘cul’ for ‘cool’, I tell them what ‘cul’ means. Anyone who says ‘je pue’ when they mean ‘je peux’ becomes a member of the ‘stinky poo club’ for a day (invented by a y11 student some years ago). 💩 badges would be fun!
Push it, play with it – how do you say ‘my arse is cool?’ ‘I can stink’ etc!
I also give little rewards for ‘belle prononciation’.
This is all French-specific but much of it can carry over into teaching other European languages, and I dare say, others that use a Latin or even alphabetic script. I hope this is useful! [end of thread!]

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