Phonics: The Building Blocks for Reading and Writing - Jill Leighton

Part of the Young Learners session at the Macmillan Education Online Conference 2014, this webinar will show you how to take children from learning to read to reading to learn!

Webinar details

Phonics: The Building Blocks for Reading and Writing, with Jill Leighton

Friday 14th November 2014: 11.00-11.45 (GMT)

This webinar will look closely at each of the blocks / skills and show you ways to keep Young Learners engaged in phonics, starting with phoneme awareness (pre-phonics) and leading to initial letter sounds. It will also focus on blending and segmenting procedures using simple CVC words and first digraphs in order to develop fluency in very first reading and spelling confidence.

Jill’s approach concentrates on meaning from the beginning and is designed to enrich children’s vocabulary and language, as well as to capture their imaginations and introduce them to the pleasure of reading. 

About the speaker: Jill Leighton

Jill is a teacher, writer and teacher trainer with over 25 years of teaching English; working in London, Madrid and Barcelona. She has a passion for phonics and is especially interested in teaching VYLs how to read, write and spell. Jill is author of Macmillan pre-school books Captain Jack 1&2 (2011) and co-authored Learning Stars 1&2 (2014) with Jeanne Perrett.  

Jill has taught phonics for many years using different approaches in order to discover which approach works best in the ELT class.  Drawing on this experience she created the phonics lessons in Captain Jack and Learning Stars 1&2. Currently Jill teaches English, Science, Ethics and Art in a bilingual school near Barcelona.

Here, Jill tells us more about her work and what you will learn from her at MEOC2014:  

What will people learn from your webinar?

You will learn about the five building blocks of teaching very young learners to read, write and spell with success in the very first stages of literacy.  By the end of the session, you’ll have practical ideas to adapt and use in class, including simple activities to develop phonemic awareness and creative ways to keep children engaged with phonics.  You will see that by tapping into the young learner’s sense of humour and engaging them actively in the lessons, the whole experience of learning phonics can be pleasurable and fun whilst fostering a love of reading. 

Tell us about  your latest projects with Macmillan Education? 

Some of my most recent Macmillan projects include: 

  • Captain Jack 1 & 2 (2011), a story-based course with meaningful fun stories that mix fantasy and reality, which has a unique global approach to learning English.  In each unit the children are engaged with Captain Jack’s phonics, key competences, and there is a special emotional intelligence lesson in every unit relating to the story.
  • Learning Stars 1 & 2 (2014), which I wrote along with Jeanne Perrett. This is a high level course for VYLs which delivers an introduction to communicative English along with beginning to read, write and spell in English. 

What  inspired and continues to inspire you to work in ELT? 

I started out teaching Modern Languages in a secondary school in London and decided to do a TEFL course for fun. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to enter the world of ELT. The children at the school where I work are a constant source of inspiration. They are curious, imaginative and very appreciative and always happy to give me honest feedback!  This helps me to evolve as a teacher and develop new ways to motivate them.

If  you could have written one book what would it be? 

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle (my favourite book) or (if I had to invent a new title) Time for a rhyme! Rhymes with plenty of communicative language for very young learners by Jill Leighton! There is still time for this!! 

Jill's top teaching tips

  • Begin teaching phonics early and have a well-defined class routine so that your young learners understand what is wanted of them. Invent routine songs or chants to indicate the start of a new activity.
  • Encourage the children to join in. Here is an example to indicate the start of the phonics lesson along with possible actions to accompany the chant. Get your puppet to say the chant.

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