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Len Fong can learn to read

Updated on September 22, 2011

Coming to America

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all rights reserved

Learning a new Language

As a new student in my special needs class, Len Fong sat in silence. She and her family had recently come to this country from Vietnam and none of the family members could speak English.The child was placed in my class because she could not speak English, and not because she had a learning disability. as did the other students in my class. I was introduced to the parents and Len on a Monday and by Friday, the girl had already picked up a few new words of the English language. I had decided to use my 220 Dolch word cards, ABCs cards, phonetics cards, and the picture-word cards that I had made up while I was in a college class the preceding summer, and I had to draw and color the cards in a presentable manner, so that they could be easily understood by potential readers. I was given an A in my class because of my creativity in my drawings on those cards and enthusiasm, and I used my art background to its greatest capacity.

Len was shown the cards and the first time she looked at them I got a big smile from her. I knew that I was on the right track from then on. The cards were labeled in the corner, the phonetic letters and sounds that they made. A picture of the word to be learned was in the middle of the card. As I showed each card to Len, I made the sounds of the word to be learned and was careful to use the phonetics that made up each word. Len was delighted because she was making such progress, and her mother appeared one day at school and asked me if I could help her to learn to speak American too! I was now involved in an educational project that was proving to be bigger than I could have dreamed of.

Len's mom came each day after school for about thirty minutes and I used the same method with the ABC and Phonetics cards with her also. The word listed had been carefully placed on each card and a picture explained what the words meant. A cat was in the middle of the card in a picture form. The word cat was written underneath. The phonetic sound was labeled in the corner(Ca)(t)the short vowel curved line was placed above the vowel(A) Fish was pictured on a card and the spelling was placed beneath the drawing. The sound the word made was placed in the corner(Fi)(SH) The long (I) sound was illustrated with a bar above the vowel (I). The vowels of A.E.I.O.U. were shown on separate cards and the sounds that were to be emphasized with long and short vowel marks above each. I went through the first 100 words with Len and her mom for the first month and the following month, I moved on to the last 120 Dolch words cards.Len Fong and her mom both were beginning to learn new words in English and showed much pride in their work in my after class-classes. We were able to put new words together to form sentences . Most were short sentences and this was all that I has been trying to achieve in this form of teaching. During the regular day's classes, I had my hands full with twenty-four other special needs kids and worked very hard in teaching them Reading, English, Math, social Studies. and Science. I also used my Dolch Word cards with these students, and made a lot of progress in doing so. Len Fong and her mom enjoyed learning a new language and after three months, Len and her family moved up North. I will always remember them fondly, and hope that they were given a chance in becoming American citizens with the ability to communicate in their new country. My crude attempts at teaching them had helped make progress in their learning to read and speak in English. I felt well satisfied in what I had accomplished in that year's work at the school. Many of my special needs kids had shown a lot of progress after taking yearly tests that measure reading levels and comprehension. The word cards had proven their worth and would always be part of my planning in the daily lessons that I presented to the students who I was so blessed to have in my classes.

The word cards method has proved to be a very effective way in which to help kids learn to read. The English Language is one of the most complicated languages in the world in which to master. At times, I even wonder if I have even done so. My word cards and phonics cards have helped me be a more effective teacher of kids with learning problems in several schools in my twenty-five years in the field of special education, and this has helped me to achieve many goals that I have set out to meet. The cards and the drawings that are used on the cards that I have created over the years, have been a great benefit in adding to my teaching arsenal. The use of computers and other higher technology in education, has become more widely used in recent years, but I still believe in my word cards and their positive influence on kids with reading problems. Sight vocabulary words are one form used, and the picture and word cards, reinforce learning so that students can see what it is that they are reading about and in pronouncing letters used in making phonetic sounds.There are several helpful articles and sites listed on the internet under Phonics, Dolch Words, and teaching reading using word cards and also books in the library that show these methods. This has been a great help to me and I hope to pass it on to those who wish to know about helping kids in learning to read in today's schools. May God Bless you who have been so dedicated.


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    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 

      6 years ago from Texas

      How inpiring to have the dedication that you showed to the family. You can be proud to know that you made a difference.

    • mirror_eyes profile image


      6 years ago from north Texas

      How exciting! I am curious if you learned any Vietnamese while you where teaching them English??

      Also, I made a set of phonics reading cards myself, similar to what you described, and offered them to the public here:

      Thanks for this encouraging story, Who!


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