Phonics is a critical part of Language Arts and is taught more extensively in grades pre-K to third grade. After fourth grade, it is assumed that students have already learned the crucial phonics skill needed to succeed in school. However, for ELLs who began learning English after fourth grade, they more than likely do not have the phonetic skills necessary to comprehend reading and educational materials in middle and high school. For that reason, it is important that teachers and parents understand the importance of phonics instruction for middle and high school ELLs. Take a look at some strategies to help build a strong phonics foundation beyond fourth grade.
Consider Extracurricular Instruction
Extracurricular instruction in phonics and building vocabulary can be very helpful for middle and high school ELLs who are lacking phonetic skills. This could include a reading remediation class, in which a reading specialist places emphasis on reading aloud and comprehension. If such extracurricular instruction is not available, teachers and parents should reach out to school administrators and request that such extracurricular courses be made available.
Instruct Students to Write Out Sounds
Teachers can reinforce phonics by reading passages or short sentences aloud, which include one or more vocabulary words that feature target phonetic sounds. Teachers should instruct students to listen closely, then write down exactly what they heard. This type of activity helps teach ELL students to be aware of individual sounds in vocabulary words and what said sounds represent phonetically within text.
Integrate Phonics Into Instruction
Whenever possible, teachers should integrate phonics into their everyday classroom instruction. Teachers should seek texts that are of high interest, but require low reading skills – such as those of a third grader. There are a number of bilingual books that can be used to instruct middle and high school ELL students, so that they can obtain greater phonetic skills. ELL students will feel more inclined to be engaged as they feel that they are learning and can relate to the subject matter.
Utilize Phonics Resources
Teachers should also utilize phonics resources such as workbooks and worksheets. Lecutra Books offers phonics workbooks that are beneficial to ELL students. The images and vocabulary in the workbooks are transferable and can foster oral language that research has demonstrated to be of importance for ELLs.