What are Speech Sound Pictographs?
Speech Sound Monsters
A pictograph is a method of data visualisation. The picture conveys meaning. Within phonics programs embedded pictograhs are used to highlight a 1 grapheme/ 1 speech sound correspondence. eg an apple shown in the letter a.
As written English has an opaque orthography this is limiting from both an instructional and learning perspective. The letter can represent 9 different sounds.
It would be like teaching children to look at a bird and say 'crow' and then wondering why they say 'crow' when they look at every bird. The word-to-crow correspondence has been secured - rather than the concept of a species and that, in time, we will discover hundreds of variations. It is easier to connect word-to-bird and then think of which bird! This happens when phonetic symbols are used.
Anyone who looks at a word and isn't sure of the pronunciation can type it into an IPA transcription site and see the phonetic symbols - the speech sound symbols. They are symbols that directly correspond to English speech sounds, and used universally by those teaching English.
Unfortunately many look like letters of the alphabet. If a child can't yet read this use of phonetic symbols would be too confusing for most. However, the concept would be ground-breaking - if it could be used in the early stages. They can explore the variations - the 300+ graphemes used to represent the 44+ speech sounds! From speech to print AND print to speech!
This also reduces the need for extensive explicit instruction included within commercial phonics programs. Learners need less help because resources can utilise this 'pictograph' concept - but with speech sounds! So graphemes are 'pictures of speech sounds' - and are specific to the word. ie a grapheme can be a picture of multiple different speech sounds in written words. We don't know WHICH speech sound until used. Knowing which sound they COULD represent helps us work out (decode) new words. Read 'gallimaufry' - even if you don't know the word you can figure out how it MIGHT be pronounced because you know this (you have phonic knowledge)
However, Speech Sound Monsters are pictures of something that ALWAYS stays the same.
- this is a UNIQUE approach to teaching children about phonetic symbols before they can read.
Also to be able to work out unfamiliar words without help, even if the grapheme to phoneme mapping is not yet known. So a pre-schooler could figure out words like 'hallucination' and 'gallimaufry' even without knowing what they mean, as long as they have the working memory to retain a string of multiple speech sounds, and can blend them!
It is a fantastic way to learn the 300 or so high-frequency words known to make up around 65% of the words children will see in all written material. They do not need to wait for the 'explicit' instruction of those commonly used correspondences and easily understand these 'irregular' correspondences.
Unfortunately, many adults do not understand English orthography, they do not use the IPA, and so do not understand why these Speech Sound Pictographs are such a breakthrough.
So we are showing these Mapping Words in the Woods both with and without the Speech Sound Monsters! They are used within the ICRWY Braintree Forest Early Years program; an early dyslexia intervention. 3-year-olds understand their role immediately! It's the adults that usually take a little longer to catch on:-)