ELR Software produces a range of computer programs designed by speech pathologists for speech, language & literacy intervention. Our programs may be used interactively within therapy sessions, to increase efficiency in service delivery, and to improve access to the Internet for people with special needs. We are also available as consultants to clinicians and research projects in the fields of literacy and accessibility issues associated with the Internet.
The aim of this newsletter is to inform you of developments and changes to our major products eLr (Extra Language Resources), Build-a-Sentence and Word Meanings. We welcome the opportunity for feedback and questions, and will be pleased to consider including reader contributions and announcements.
This Newsletter (and previous editions) as well as a "print-ready" PDF version of the current edition is available online at www.elr.com.au/news. An email version is also sent monthly to members of our mailing list (See Subscribing/Unsubscribing).
In this issue -
This month we began development of new sub-sections within the "Reading and Spelling" section which will target all the consonant sounds of English and the spelling options which represent each sound, providing users with materials to support a systematic, evidence-based approach for teaching early reading and spelling skills.
As background, eLr has been developed over the last 17 years to support interventions for people with speech, language, and literacy impairment. Two sections specifically target development of early literacy skills. They are: "Phonological Awareness" which targets foundation skills for reading and spelling (eg identifying sounds in words, breaking words into sounds, and early alphabet knowledge), and "Reading and Spelling" which provides material to teach word reading skills (eg decoding, sight word development, multi-syllabic words, prefixes and suffixes, homophones and homographs, and verb tenses).
To date, the focus in the decoding sub-sections of "Reading and Spelling" has been on the vowel sounds (short, long, and diphthongs) which we've arranged using a "speech-to-print" approach. This approach teaches the sound first and then the spelling patterns that represent each sound. While there were also sub-sections for some of the common consonant digraphs (eg "sh, ch, tch, ph, wh), our new sub-sections will use this same "speech-to-print" approach to provide materials to systematically teach each of the consonant sounds. For example, one sub-section will target the /k/ sound (which has a number of different spelling patterns, eg "k" kite, "c" cup, "ck" sock, "ch" echo, and "q" quiet), and another will target the /s/ sound with spelling patterns such as "s" soap, "ss" grass, "se" house, "c" cent, and "ce" fence, and so on.
The development of these new materials will take time. In this edition, we have slightly re-structured the main Directory and made modifications to some of the existing consonant digraph tasks. Over the coming months we will be developing new sub-sections and tasks which may be useful in reading and spelling instruction focusing on the alphabetic code. As usual, we appreciate your feedback about our continual update of existing materials and the development of new intervention material.
The ultimate aim of skilled reading is to fluently read words and to comprehend what has been read. To achieve this, the reader needs to:
- Accurately read words. This involves two processes: the acquisition of a large bank of sight words (words which the reader can automatically recognise, pronounce, and understand the meaning) as this enables fluent reading; and the ability to use letter-sound (grapheme-phoneme) knowledge when unfamiliar words are encountered. This enables the reader to decipher (decode) new words - a process which supports continual expansion of vocabulary knowledge and sight word development.
- Develop oral language comprehension skills (understanding sentences and paragraphs, forming inferences, and developing general knowledge) as this allows the reader to comprehend the information that has been read.
While oral language acquisition begins at birth and continues throughout a person's life, the development of efficient word reading (and spelling) skills is one of the main goals of early literacy instruction. The results of three major international reviews of the evidence of early word reading instruction (see references) concluded that children need to be taught the system of grapheme-phoneme relationships (the alphabetic code). Further, the Australian National Inquiry into the Teaching of Reading (2005) concluded that "because these are both foundational and essential skills for the development of competence in reading, writing and spelling, they must be taught explicitly, systematically, early and well".
However, English is a complex, or "opaque" language. It has about 44 sounds (phonemes), but about 249 spelling patterns (graphemes) that represent these sounds. Therefore, it does not have a simple 1:1 letter-to-sound (or grapheme-to-phoneme) relationship in which each letter represents one sound. When teaching these grapheme-phoneme relationships educators have used either a "print-to-speech" (eg teaching the grapheme "or" and its pronunciations - /or/ as in fork, and /er/ as in "word"), a "speech-to-print" (eg teaching the phoneme /or/ with its spelling patterns, "or" corn, "a" fall, "au" haul, "aw" jaw), or a mix of these two approaches.
Not only is the "speech-to-print" approach more efficient (because the focus is on 44 phonemes instead of about 249 graphemes), it is also more useful for spelling, because to spell an unfamiliar word, any person must initially isolate each phoneme before they can select appropriate graphemes. This is important because spelling has been found to be a more difficult skill to master, and often remains a problem for people with impaired literacy development (eg people with Dyslexia).
Over the 2017 year we phased in a small charge for the physical version of eLr-Offline for Windows (provided on a USB key).
If you have any questions about these changes and their implementation, or the automatic updating process, please contact us.
As an occasional feature of this Newsletter, we include simple, unpaid announcements of products developed by other small, independent developers, who, like ourselves, are practising clinicians who have put their ideas and experience into resource materials for general distribution. Links and brief information about these sites may be found at www.elr.com.au/links/developers.htm. To date we have listed -
If you would like your materials listed on this page (at no charge), please contact us.
ELR has a number of free or evaluation files available for downloading directly from our website. Please see www.elr.com.au/downloads.htm for specific details. For other supporting materials and documents available for free download, please see www.elr.com.au/support.htm.
ELR Software offers regular, free eLr tutorials over the web. We can provide this sort of support to individuals, or to groups who would like to have an overview of eLr. Please contact us for details.
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