English Learner Literacy: Strategies for bridging the gap

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English Learners struggle with traditional phonics programs. Learn how to use Color Vowel tools and strategies to help learners succeed.

About this event

Whether you are a teacher, a literacy volunteer, a learning coach, or a teacher educator, this workshop will provide you with new insights and effective strategies that you can use right away.

This workshop is appropriate for ESL/EFL teachers, tutors, and reading specialists. No prior training in the Color Vowel® Approach is necessary.

Unable to attend live? This workshop will be recorded and and shared privately with all registrants. We have structured the workshop for live participation in a way that supports an enriching asynchronous experience!

Curious about Color Vowel®? Learn about our Color Vowel training options.

Workshop Description

In this one-day workshop with Dr. Robin Barr and special guest presenters, participants will gain insight into what a good phonics program can achieve, where all phonics programs fall short, and how Color Vowels bridge the gap.

Workshop activities will include:

  • Understanding low literacy: Why do some learners struggle?
  • Introducing low-literacy learners to Color Vowels
  • Objects as friendly first words: Creating your menagerie
  • Three activities for building phonemic awareness
  • Speaking to write and writing to read: Learner-created books

Why do English Learners struggle with traditional phonics instruction?

In a phonics framework, letters are treated as the primary or basic units for learning to read. For a language like Spanish (and other languages that utilize more phonemic writing systems), it doesn't really matter whether literacy is taught by going from sounds to symbols or from symbols to sounds; the one-to-one correspondence between sound and symbol makes decoding and encoding parallel, and translating in both directions is equally simple. However, because English does not have a one-to-one correspondence of sound to symbol, phonics instruction fundamentally depends on the learner's possession of a well-developed oral vocabulary to which they can connect the letters they are learning to 'sound out'.

English Learners (ELs), with their limited English vocabularies, need specific support strategies that boost oral/aural word recognition as they learn to make use of the English spelling patterns presented in a high-quality phonics program.

Dr. Robin Barr holds a PhD in Linguistics from Harvard, an MA in linguistics from Harvard, and a BA in Linguistics from Yale. Dr. Barr is Linguist In Residence at American University, where she teaches for the TESOL graduate program. Robin also teaches dyslexic adult learners at the Washington Literacy Council, where she has developed a responsive curriculum the combines traditional phonics with brain-based strategies from the Color Vowel® Approach.

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