Each child can rapidly learn to read using the approach “total text”, which involves full understanding and “word pictures in context”. Learners can learn unassisted and are supported in the development of their own intuitive appreciation of phonetics.
The prerequisite is a large and fast-growing spoken vocabulary in context. This is easily and quickly achieved through some action songs and many stories in the form of songs and joke-dialogues which are, typically, presented in a Singing Picture Story Book and an illustrated book, each with an audio CD, both of which facilitate independent learning. In class the children sing and speak the stories and present them using the Expressive Arts to promote understanding and interpretation. Learning to read with each item then follows on shortly afterwards.
Rates of speaking and reading for every child are very high and within the first 12 weeks with 2 lessons (90 minutes contact time) a week every child learns over 500 spoken words in context and is able to read a large majority of them. Thus extensive reading has already been established as a natural and rewarding part of (English) learning.
The underlying principles of this straightforward approach and their relationship to neuro-research results for effective learning will be explained. Suitable examples will be taken to illustrate how to employ “total text” in practice.
Andy Reed is Author, In-service Teacher Trainer for Effective Learning, English, Mathematics and Dance, English Trainer, Entertainer and Caller. He has taught all age groups and was Junior School Headteacher, International School Secondary Co-ordinator and Comprehensive School Head of Mathematics.