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Such a long article on reading and teaching and no mention of syllables. Is this completley unrecognized concept in eanglish reading teaching?

Teaching kids to read in polish goes like this: letters -> syllables -> words -> sentences (with an overlap of the steps).

Known words and sentences are used throughout the process to illustrate the things you are learning at the moment and sort of tease what you will be able to do when you master current step.

I imagine in language where same letters can have so many different sounds the concept of syllables should be even more useful.

Teaching kids to read sentences before they can recognize what sound which letter bunches mean seems like telling kid to swim before he learns to float or tread water.

The danger here is that many of the patterns that go from letters -> syllables are completely messed up in English. (Come to think of it, the entire darned language can be like that).

I remember in grade 3 having a teacher give a lesson on syllables. We would clap along with each syllable in the word. She asked me to do this for "Fire". I clapped twice, as there is clearly an audible Fy-er" two syllables in Canadian English. She told me I was wrong, clapped once, and said "Fire" quickly. She "knew" that a word with "consonant - vowel - consonant - vowel" pattern makes a single syllable. Never mind that my ears, and the rest of the students' ears, can hear that she's wrong.

The end result was her confusing the class about what syllables are. I remember the lesson well, because what I really learned was that teachers mean well but aren't always right.

I don't mean syllables as in precise definition (they are kind of fuzzy as your expeirience shows) or especially not counting them or learning which you should put the accent on.

I'm talking about the fact that if you know how fi-(i)re sounds, you can guess how hi-(i)re sounds or even ty-(y)re or de-si-(i)re.

That's more or less what phonics is. It's discussed in the article. There's a combination of learning how sounds map to letters/letter combinations and then learning how they are used in real words (with spelling tests). The teacher shows the letter combinations first and the students sound them out. Then the reverse happens: the teacher sounds out the letters and the students have to write down every letter combination that corresponds with that sound. Then there is a spelling test that uses the sounds with a lot of edge cases where patterns/guessing won't work. They would also have students read aloud to make sure they were moving along smoothly.

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