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Sound bites

Further to Maureen Guy's reference to the BBC television coverage of our THRASS (Teaching Handwriting Reading And Spelling Skills) literacy programme (TES, June 21).

Importantly and significantly, the comments in the television feature were not those of student teachers but classroom teachers drawn from 30 schools (primary, secondary and special) in Sheffield attending a five-day training course.

Comments such as, "I admit I didn't even know that there were 44 sounds in the English language and I would have said that there were five vowel sounds until this week", have also been endorsed here in Australia by teachersin Perth, Sydney and, now, Brisbane.

It is our view that the large numbers of children with reading and spelling difficulties found in British schools and, indeed, in schools throughout the world, are a direct result of teachers not being trained to teach the 44 phonemes of spoken English (24 consonants and 20 vowels) and to relate these from the outset to the skills of reading and spelling.

ALAN DAVIES DENYSE RITCHIE

Australian Literacy Educators' Association

22nd National Conference

Brisbane

Queensland

Australia

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