Speech to Print: Language Essentials for Teachers, Second Edition

By Farrell, Mary L.; Matthews, Francie et al. | Perspectives on Language and Literacy, Fall 2011 | Go to article overview

Speech to Print: Language Essentials for Teachers, Second Edition


Farrell, Mary L., Matthews, Francie, Shapiro, Judy, Martin, Marilyn, Perspectives on Language and Literacy


Speech to Print: Language Essentials for Teachers, Second Edition Louisa Cook Moats, Ed. D. (20W) Paul H. Brookes Publishing. Paperback. 272 Pages. $24.95

Louisa Moats contends that language is the missing piece in teacher education, and the purpose of her book, Speech to Print: Language Essentials for Teachers, Second Edition) is to address this gap. Her premise is that to teach reading, spelling, and composition effectively, teachers must provide an explanation of both spoken and written language. Successful teaching establishes an understanding of how language works that enables children to learn words, interpret sentences, and write fluently. In order to understand printed language well enough to be able to teach it explicitly, teachers must study its systems and forms, both spoken and written.

The book is unique in providing, under one cover, a uniform depth of information in the areas of phonetics, phonology, orthography, morphology, syntax, and semantics. Each chapter includes extensive review and clarification of key linguistic concepts, activities for self-study (with answer key), general principles of instruction, sample instructional activities, and recommended resources for further instruction. The book does not endorse a particular method but supplies background information from which teachers can develop their own approaches. It is a comprehensive reference tool for the key language areas listed above and includes a glossary and an elementary level spelling assessment tool.

While a summary of each chapter is not within the scope of this review, a few highlights should be mentioned. In the chapter on phonetics, an area typically absent from most reading instruction texts, teachers will come away with a better understanding of why phonemic awareness is so difficult for the young child. Moats explains the elusive phoneme and coarticulation carefully. "An effect of co-articulation is that sounds within words are slightly changed by the sounds that come before and after them." (p. 28) Because of this phenomena, a child may have no problem capturing and spelling the /VJ in the word kitten but may not quite get it in the word sink, where it is not perceived the same way. Moats explains the distinguishing features of consonants and the details of vowel production, bringing the terminology of speech/language pathology to the teacher. This integration gives teachers additional insights into typical errors children make and provides them with information needed for more specific and informed instruction.

Even for the well versed, Moats offers unique insights into English morphology. For example, in the section on derivational complexity, she describes a myriad of ways roots typically change when combined with other morphemes. Sometimes, a morpheme can alter a base word phonological Iy as in the case of sane and sanity where there is an audible shift in the vowel sound or in electric and electricity where the sound of the consonant changes. …

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