Of all the English as a Second Language (ESL) textbooks we have seen there are no two that agree on the order in which reading should be taught. This is very much a matter of personal preference, and while there is a form of organisation to the way each book handles this skill there is a lack of explanation as to why they have chosen to follow that particular order.
We feel that as long as the end result is the same, then what’s the harm, all methods will lead to learners being able to read. The textbooks tend to limit the number of words they use for each example, and we find ourselves needing more. As a result we have compiled additional resources to supplement some of the more popular early reading textbooks, so that ESL teachers can bulk up their lessons and extend the comprehension of their students through the use of further examples.
In addition to this we have our own recommendations, with an explanation of why we believe reading should be taught in this order. If you have your own opinions on this, please feel free to have your say in the comments section below, and who knows, maybe you can teach us an even better route to reading! The benefit of contributing online is you can have a say in how this site grows, and we value all contributions.
1. Alphabet Phonics (Sounds A-Z)
2. 3-Letter Consonant Vowel Consonant (CVC) Words
3. Blends & Digraphs
4. Magic E
5. Short Passages, Songs, Rhymes
6. Simple books
7. Extended Passages
9. Newsprint Articles
10. Teen Fiction & Magazines
11. Contemporary Literature
13. Business Documents
14. Scientific Journals
We used the Lancaster University Frequency Lists, based on the British National Corpus of over 100 million words as a basis for our reading model. We removed errant duplicates, and certain alternative spellings. We combined multiple entries into one, for example if a word has both noun and verb forms, and took the highest frequency as the reference. This left us a list of around 5,200 of the most frequent words in English. We then retrieved English International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) data for each word, and organised the list by each of the many phonetic components. We found that not all of the IPA symbols were present in the sample, and ended up with 61 unique sounds.
If you feel it is beneficial to teach the alphabet in order of letter frequency then here is the list for you:
*You should consider that even though letter ‘e’ is the most commonly occuring, it has many sound variants. The most frequent unique sound in English is actually ‘t’
After the student is able to recognise the sounds of each character it is time to progress to simple words and build a foundation of understanding that words are groups of sounds combined together. This is most easily achieved by introducing simple short words.
Each PDF contains 50 words, these were selected to be easy to explain or demonstrate, progressively more challenging to read, and high frequency.
A5 single-sided pages, but will reasily scale to other paper sizes using your print dialogue settings.