Foundations: from Language to Reading

In August of 2020, I gave an eagle’s eye introduction to language and its connections to reading skill for the volunteer tutors at New Haven Reads. NHR has put video of the talk up on their YouTube channel (embedded below), making it my YouTube debut. You can view the slides online here. Or, you can download them here. The download is a zip file which you will need to unzip. You can then view the slides in your web browser.

What is a Phoneme, Really?

The word “phoneme” gets tossed around a lot in talk of early reading instruction. It is an important concept in relation to phonics-based approaches to the subject. Reading teachers are typically taught that a phoneme is a “speech sound”,1 but that isn’t quite right. In fact, a phoneme is better defined as a set of speech sounds. So, a phoneme is a mental abstraction, a category. It is not an individual sound, but rather a collection of speech sounds that behave similarly.