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IELTS Preparation Series 2, Episode 22: Phonics


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0:13

Hello. I'm Margot Politis. Welcome to Study English, IELTS preparation.

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Have you ever wished you knew more words when you were reading or listening? Well, today

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we're going to show you how you can - just by guessing!

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It will take a little bit of effort, but you can learn strategies to help you guess the

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meaning of words you may not know.

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One of the strategies is using context to guess unknown words.

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But what is context? Well, context includes the words, phrases or sentences before and

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after the unknown word, which helps make the meaning clear.

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Let's consider an example. Today's story is about helping children learn to read.

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Here, Chris Brooks is using the phonics method. If you don't know what the phonics method

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is, can you work it out from the other words used by the reporter? Listen carefully.

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Chris Brooks is teaching Ashley with what's called the phonics method, which was used

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by most teachers til the '50s. It breaks words down into their individual sounds.

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Well, as you've seen, Sonya, what we've done is we've worked with some letters that have

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a variety of sounds, so the letter 'c' had two sounds, the 'k' sound and the 'ss' sound,

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and you can see with our colour-coding, one's purple and one's black, and the same with

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the letter 's', it has a 'ss' sound and 'zz' sound, so they're their common sounds.

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The reporter uses the following words and phrases:

1:54

teaching

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phonics method

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used by teachers and

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breaks words down into their individual sounds

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So we can guess that phonics is a method used by teachers that breaks words down into their

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individual sounds.

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So using the context, the words surrounding the word phonics, we have some understanding

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of it.

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Let's now listen to Chris Brooks again. What other words or phrases help us with the meaning

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of phonics?

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Well, as you've seen, Sonya, what we've done is we've worked with some letters that have

2:36

a variety of sounds, so the letter 'c' had two sounds, the 'k' sound and the 'ss' sound,

2:42

and you can see with our colour-coding, one's purple and one's black, and the same with

2:45

the letter 's', it has a 'ss' sound and 'zz' sound, so they're their common sounds.

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Chris uses the phrases:

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some letters that have a variety of sounds

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the letter c had two sounds

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the k sound and the ss sound

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colour-coding

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the letter s

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a ss sound and zz sound

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So we can guess that the method focuses on letters that have a variety of sounds, for

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example letter c, which has two sounds - k and s.

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We also know that colour coding is used to help recognise common sounds, and that the

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letter s has an ss sound and zz sound.

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So, we have quite a bit of information about phonics now. From the various contexts we've

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listened to, can you guess the meaning of the word phonics? How would you define it?

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Here's a possible guess:

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Phonics is a method that teaches people to read by learning to recognise the sounds that

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letters represent.

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Remember, you don't always need a dictionary to find the meaning of a word. Using the strategy

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of guessing the meaning of a word from the context helps with your ability to understand,

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partly because you stay focussed on what you're listening to.

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It also helps build your vocabulary because you're more likely to remember the word. This

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skill is very helpful in the IELTS Listening test because you won't have a dictionary to

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assist you.

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Here's a quick test to try out your skills.

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Can you guess the meaning of the highlighted words from the context?

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Statistics show that over one-eighth of the adult population in developing countries is

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illiterate. Governments have set up educational centres to teach this group to read and write.

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What does illiterate mean?

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We know that it's an educational matter related to teaching people to read and write, and

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that it's a large problem in developing countries.

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Illiterate would mean not able to read or write.

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Here's another one.

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John loved singing, so he auditioned for all the musicals. The directors liked the way

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he sang.

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What does auditioned mean?

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We know that John loves to sing, and he sang for directors, the people directing the musicals.

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So from this we can guess that auditioned means performed a song for directors to judge

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whether someone is good enough to be in their show.

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OK, now we're going to have a look at the verb to be. To be usually functions as an

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auxiliary verb.

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But sometimes the verb to be can function as the main verb. That's when it links the

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subject and an expression that describes the subject. For example, look at the sentence:

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Chris is a phonics teacher.

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Is here is the main verb because it links the expression phonics teacher to the subject

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Chris.

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OK. The reporter quotes children's author Mem Fox on literacy. What does she say about

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Australia's literacy rate?

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Internationally acclaimed children's author Mem Fox says the crisis is a myth and Australia's

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literacy rate is second only to Finland.

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Mem Fox says: The crisis is a myth.

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When the verb to be is used as the main verb in a sentence, what follows is called the

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complement. This complement defines the subject.

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The structure of these linking verb clauses or sentences is:

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subject + to be + the complement

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So we have the subject, the crisis, the linking verb, is, and the complement, a myth.

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The crisis is a myth.

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Listen to the clip again.

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Internationally acclaimed children's author Mem Fox says the crisis is a myth and Australia's

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literacy rate is second only to Finland.

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Australia's literacy rate is second only to Finland.

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Let's look at the structure of the sentence.

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The subject is Australias literacy rate.

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We have a form of the verb to be - is

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and then the complement - second only to Finland.

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Second only to is an interesting expression that means, in this sentence, Australia has

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the second best literacy rate in the world. Finland is number one.

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Let's look at another clip. Can you find another example where a complement is used?

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She says we've achieved that by using a range of reading techniques, including phonics,

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but phonics alone isn't a magical cure for reading problems.

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She says: Phonics isn't a magical cure.

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The subject is phonics.

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The verb to be -isn't, short for is not

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and the complement - a magical cure.

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And that's all for today's study English.

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Let's review what we've looked at.

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We talked about looking at context to guess the meaning of words.

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And then we looked at using the verb to be to link subjects and their complements.

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Don't forget to visit our Study English website to find out more - it's at abcasiapacific.com/studyenglish.

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That's all for today. I'll see you next time for more IELTS preparation. Bye bye.

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