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Question to Australian Universities

Barbara Murray - Friday, July 19, 2019

Response to an article by Rebecca Urban, National Education Respondent for The Australian after an interview with Dr Jennifer Buckingham, as published in The Weekend Australian, 13-14 July 2019, page 9.

Question to Australian universities: When are you going to teach the teachers what the Australian curriculum asks them to do in the classroom?

by Barbara Murray*

How can our students learn to read and write if the teachers don't know how to teach them?
Phonemic Awareness, combined with Synthetic Phonics, is currently scientifically proven to be an extremely effective way to children to read and write proficiently and forms a vital section of the Australian National Curriculum.
So why have new teachers, fresh out of university, never been trained to use these in the classroom?
There are only so many words our brains can commit to memory. Imagine learning to read and write unfamiliar characters, such as those used to represent Russian or Chinese in written form. If we understand the structure of the language and the recurring patterns, we have a much better chance of success.
Phonemic Awareness means 'being aware' of all 43 sounds (phonemes), that we use in our spoken language and knowing how to identify them in the words that make up our language. This is the first, vital step in learning to read and write. It is an oral step. Once students can identify the beginning, medial and final sounds in simple 2 and 3 sound words orally, they are ready for Synthetic Phonics.
Synthetic Phonics teaches students how to break (segment) words into the individual sounds. It then teaches students how to use the alphabet letters to represent those sounds in written form when reading and writing.
These are skills just like those required to drive a car or ride a bike, but they are vital. They are easily learned and provide the introduction to that magical land of information!
* * *
* Barbara Murray is co-author of Sound Waves, the Whole-School Approach to Spelling and the newly published Sound Stories, a boxed set of 4 books with 43 engaging and beautifully illustrated stories to introduce the sounds to beginning readers and writers.
The article in The Weekend Australian can be viewed here (subscriber only article):


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