'Don't simplify the language'

13th January 2006 at 00:00
Katie Barber (right) teaches a reception class of 20 at the pre-prep department of Leeds Grammar School.

"We have 15 minutes of phonics in school every day. I try to make it fun and it works for these children.

Katie does not agree with the idea of simplifying spelling of basic vocabulary to make reading easier.

"You should give children more credit," she says. "You could not simplify the whole of the language so it would not solve anything.

"We should celebrate the diversity of our language, not simplify it. This approach makes no allowance for regional accent either - it would be disastrous for the language and for children learning to read."

Katie believes in teaching reading with a combination of word recognition, phonics, context and "going back to make sense of the word" in context.

"Phonics in isolation falls down. This is the way I was taught to teach reading and I know it works. It is hard work and some children find it easier than others initially, but it works."

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