ELR Software produces a range of computer programs designed by speech pathologists for speech, language & literacy intervention. Our programs may be used interactively within therapy sessions, to increase efficiency in service delivery, and to improve access to the Internet for people with special needs. We are also available as consultants to clinicians and research projects in the fields of literacy and accessibility issues associated with the Internet.
The aim of this newsletter is to inform you of developments and changes to our major products eLr (Extra Language Resources), Build-a-Sentence, Word Meanings, Rude Readers and EIA (Enhancing Internet Access). We welcome the opportunity for feedback and questions, and will be pleased to consider including reader contributions and announcements.
This Newsletter (and previous editions) as well as a "print-ready" PDF version of the current edition is available online at www.elr.com.au/news. An email version is also sent monthly to members of our mailing list (See Subscribing/Unsubscribing).
Season's Greetings, and we wish you all a safe and happy new year. And special thanks to all to have provided us feedback - always helpful! We look forward to providing you with additional support in 2016 with our new online webinars which will be advertised in the new year.
In this issue -
From January 1st 2017 we will be making 2 changes to our subscription processes which will affect eLr subscribers.
If you have any questions about these changes and their implementation, please contact us.
Twelve new tasks have been added to "Reading and Spelling - Other vowel sounds - Using Y". All of these new tasks use the MemoryWords model which is a word based memory game. The screen displays "cards" organised in a grid. Players take turns clicking (on a computer) or touching (on an iPad) cards to find matching pairs. The role of the teacher or support person is central to many eLr activities. In this case, the learner is encouraged to read the word out loud and receive corrective feedback from the support person to ensure that they have accurately read the word.
The focus of this section is to highlight the different pronunciations of the letter "y" when representing a vowel sound. Hence it is teaching "letter to sound" correspondence, that is, that the letter "y", when used as a vowel may be pronounced as /ee/ (as in story), as the long /i/ sounds (as in sky), or as the short /i/ sound (as in gym). This differs from most of the other eLr vowel sections which are organised according to "sound to spelling" correspondence. For example, within the "Long Vowel" section, the /ar/ sound is divided into the various spelling patterns for this sound (ie, "ar" as in hard, "a" as in fast).
In the early stages of learning to read and spell children need to master both sets of knowledge ("sound to letter" and "letter to sound") because in English, one sound may be spelled in a number of ways, and some letter/s have a number of pronunciations. Hence, when reading an unfamiliar word the child needs to know that the "ea" vowel digraph could be pronounced as a short vowel (/e/ as in bread), or a long vowel (/ee/ as in beach). Conversely when spelling, learners initially need to be aware that the /ee/ sound may be spelled in a number of ways (eg "ee" as in heel, "ea" as in pea, "e" as in she, "y" as in lady, "ey" as in key). Then, as the child's skills progress and clear mental images of words (mental orthographic images) are developed, the child masters the correct spelling pattern for each vowel, for example, that the correct spelling for the /ay/ sound is "rain" and not "rane").
While many approaches to reading and spelling focus on teaching "sound to spelling", it is useful at times to highlight words in which the same letter may be pronounced in different ways. Coincidently, in my own clinical practice with a 14-year old child who is profoundly deaf, we are working on this very issue (how to pronounce "y" as a vowel). Over the years this child has developed speech that is intelligible to most people, but has recently asked for a focus on how to pronounce "y" as a vowel. Being unable to easily hear words, this child often pronounces words as they are written; and the various pronunciations of the "y" spelling pattern has often caused difficulties. Hence these new tasks, combined with the other models in this section, will be of immediate use to this learner.
As we embark on 2017, our small ELR Software team (Rob Seiler, Toni Seiler, Anna Breakell) can reflect on 20 years of producing eLr - Extra Language Resources. It was during 1997 that, while on a walk in Mallacoota in far East Gippsland, we started discussing our vision of a comprehensive resource covering many of the areas that speech pathologists address (speech, language, and literacy). We wanted the resource to be available from wherever the clinician/teacher may be working (ie using internet access, a computer program, and more recently, an iPad app). We wanted to provide activities that:
Many hours were spent around a white board, discussing ways to translate the activities used by speech pathologists into a digital format. We often comment that during that time we developed a speech pathologist/programmer "language". Rob had to "get his head around" the nature of speech pathology intervention, and Anna and I had to understand the limitations and potential of computer technologies.
In 2000 we launched the eLr website which contained about 1,800 activities. In the following year we developed eLr Offline (the CD which installs the program on a computer for use without an internet connection), and in 2013, the iPad app. Each month we add new materials so that to date eLr has nearly 13,000 activities using more than 50 different models. We receive regular emails from subscribers with feedback and suggestions, as well as descriptions of how useful eLr has been in providing them with flexibility in their intervention for people who have speech, language, and literacy difficulties.
We thank you, look forward to meeting many of you at the May 2017 Speech Pathology Conference in Sydney, and wish you all the best for the new year.
We gave a detailed example about using our new DictionaryWords model in the September 2016 edition of ELR-News. Although this model may be used to build various word-games, it also allows researchers and clinicians to efficiently retrieve of all manner of word lists from a dictionary of 24,000 most frequent English words according to phonological structure or spelling.
We've made a WordSearch version of the DictionaryWords available for free use at www.elr.com.au/links/CSGRT. Have fun using this model and contact us if you would like support via email, phone, or an online tutorial.
Our free, regular eLr tutorials (webinars) are finished for 2016 - thanks to those who participated. Please contact us if you'd like some specific instruction, or see www.elr.com.au/events for details and to sign up for those which are of interest to you in 2017.
As an occasional feature of this Newsletter, we include simple, unpaid announcements of products developed by other small, independent developers, who, like ourselves, are practising clinicians who have put their ideas and experience into resource materials for general distribution. Links and brief information about these sites may be found at www.elr.com.au/links/developers.htm. To date we have listed -
If you would like your materials listed on this page (at no charge), please contact us.
ELR has a number of free or evaluation files available for downloading directly from our website. Please see www.elr.com.au/downloads.htm for specific details. For other supporting materials and documents available for free download, please see www.elr.com.au/support.htm.
ELR Software offers regular, free eLr tutorials over the web. We can provide this sort of support to individuals, or to groups who would like to have an overview of eLr. Please see www.elr.com.au/events for details.
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