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).
In this issue -
From January 1st 2017 we have made 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.
This month, rather than add new tasks, we have revised the content of 36 tasks in "Phonological Processing - Sound/letter links in words". All of these tasks involve "non-words" and the aim of the revision is to ensure that all non-words are legal, that is, that the spelling patterns occur in English.
The "Sound/letter links in words" section provides material to teach the ability to break words into sounds. There are two main sub-sections in "Sound/letter links in words". The first involves words with sound-letter correspondence (each sound is represented by a letter, eg c-a-t), and the second, words without sound-letter correspondence (some sounds are represented by more than one letter, eg m-oo-n, r-ai-n). Each of these sections is further broken down into "pictorial activities" (the child sees a picture, says the name, and sounds the word out), "word-based activities" (the learner may read the word or the teacher says the word, and the learner sounds the word out), and "non-word activities" which are done in the same way as the word-based activities.
The tasks that have been reviewed this month were originally constructed in 2001 - 16 years ago. Since that time, Toni has completed PhD studies which focused on decoding interventions for children with persistent reading impairment, in particular, those children with weak decoding skills. Hence, not only have we gained insights into the construction of material for reading and spelling, we have also obtained and developed tools which enable us to produce tasks which contain non-words with legal spelling patterns.
Non-words are sometimes used in the early stages of literacy instruction because while some children may be able to read and spell known sight words, they may have difficulty with unfamiliar words. This pattern suggests that these learners may not have mastered the letter-sound knowledge which supports the two main processes in reading and spelling unfamiliar words: saying the sound and blending to read a word, and saying the word and breaking it into sounds to spell the word. This weakness impacts on the learner's ability to independently decode new vocabulary which ultimately reduces their vocabulary expansion.
A brief discussion about what is meant by the term "legal non-words" may be helpful for some readers. Non-words are letter strings that respect the spelling and pronunciation rules of a given language. For example, though "crub" is a non-word in English, it could conceivably be a word because it conforms to the pronunciation and spelling conventions of the English language. However, the letter string "dfnixd" is not a legal non-word because there are no English words that start with "df", or have "fn", or "xd" within the word.
The tools we used to produce legal non-words in eLr are the ARC Non-word Database (Rastle et al, 2002), and N-Watch (Davis, 2005). We used the ARC Non-word Database to identify non-words that contained only legal bigrams (a bigram refers to two letters), and N-Watch to ensure that these bigrams were sensitive to the position within the non-word. For example, the non-word "bap" has two bigrams (ba, ap). Both of these bigrams occur in English, and there are also 3-letter words that have "ba" at the beginning of the word (bag), and have "ap" at the end of the word (cap). However, the non-word "ang" does not contain any illegal bigrams (ie, there are words that have "an" and also words that have "ng"), but there are no 3-letter words that have the bigram "ng" at the end of the word. Hence "ang" would not be included in the eLr tasks because it is considered to be an illegal letter string.
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.
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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