Linguistic Approach to the Application and Teaching of the English Alphabet

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The book approaches the nature of the alphabet and its teaching as a universal concept as well as a language-specific one. With focus on the teaching of the English alphabet, the book calls for a departure from the traditional phonics approach simply because of its failure to objectively and accurately handle the alphabet as a linguistic system and an important tool of oracy and literacy. The alternative approach recommended here scrutinizes the nature of the alphabet and comes up with four different linguistic identities: phoneme, grapheme, nomeneme, and sequeme. Each is objectively reexamined and redefined so as to identify where and how each identity should be recognized and applied. This radical distinction implies the institution of different methodologies and strategies to teach them.


“This book provides a thought-provoking examination of the complex relationships between writing systems and the teaching of language skills. It challenges the reader to question long-standing assumptions about phonics and its role in the acquisition of oral and written language competencies among students of diverse linguistic backgrounds…contributes significantly to clarification of the linguistic misunderstandings, myths, and inaccuracies found in current phonics and spelling approaches…This book will serve as a catalyst for changing literacy instruction and the preparation of teacher candidates.”
– Dr. Beverly Otto,
Professor, Teacher Education,
Northeastern Illinois University

“…offers linguistics students a complete historical and foundational overview of the alphabet and concepts of linguistics….The historical and foundational concepts come together in Part Three: The Alphabet and the Teaching of Language Skills. This portion of the manuscript will be valuable to linguistics students and teacher education students alike. The origins of alphabetic pronunciations, encoding processes, and decoding processes are synthesized…Given the cultural and linguistic diversity that is evident in most school classrooms, this section will be most useful for future teachers of diverse student populations….the extensive portions of Dr. Odisho’s manuscript dealing with the orthographic dimension will offer a unique perspective to linguistics students and teacher education students.”
– Dr. Elaine Pierce Chakonas,
Associate Chairperson, Assistant Professor, Coordinator, Elementary Education Program,
Northeastern Illinois University

Table of Contents

Part One: The Alphabet: Historical and Foundational Concepts

1. Writing Systems: Alphabetic and Non-alphabetic
2. The Story of the Alphabet
3. The Story of the English Alphabet
4. Shallow and Deep Orthographies
Part Two: The Four Identities of the Alphabet
5. The Phoneme
6. The Grapheme
7. The Nomemene
8. The Sequeme
Part Three: The Alphabet and the Teaching of Language Skills
9. The Alphabet and Spelling (oral; graphic; teaching techniques)
10. The Alphabet and Pronunciation
11. Cross-Language Alphabetic Studies:
Encoding and Decoding Processes (Grapheme comparisons; Arabic diacritics; Global definition of grapheme;
Eye-movement in reading; English, German, Spanish, Arabic, and Modern Assyrian phonemes;
Nomeneme comparisons; Sequeme comparisons)
Appendix: Activities and Teaching Strategies
Key to Exercises; Glossary; Bibliography;

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