Q1. How is your program different from existing programs?
A1. First of all, my program was created out of necessity to deal with the ‘emergency situations’ of my students back in 1999.
I was focused on ‘finding a shortcut’ so-to-speak. The key was to help students who knew the basic 26 letter sounds read and spell as soon as possible. I figured out that most were struggling with blending and decoding.
While most programs were using a set of vocabulary to teach phonics, it just wasn’t practical or feasible given the amount of time I had to work with. So I came up with the idea that if they could say any sound, they could say any word. None of the sounds were taught explicitly, I was simply aiming for acquisition rather than learning.
I saw things from the student’s perspective and made sure the delivery was engaging and the material was meaningful for them.
In this aspect, my program is quite unconventional since most existing programs teach with words families. I simple teach a random combination of sounds (nonsense words) so that any word can be said. Most new words look like ‘nonsense words’ to kids anyways, wouldn’t you agree?
Q2. How do you help students who haven’t learned the 26 letter sounds?
A2. Depending on their age, about a week before their scheduled class, I normally ask their parents to play a video for them that teaches the 26 letter sounds. I give them a simple set of instructions to follow on how to introduce this video to their kids. It is similar to singing the alphabet song with them. And the key is for them to enjoy the video and not force them to watch or listen to it. When they arrive for their first class, we will start with a bunch of fun games to reinforce what they have learned.
Q3. The program is only 4 hours, so what do the students do after?
A3. READ BOOKS (or anything you like) !!!!! After they have learned the 2 easy systems, they have powerful tools to decode words. We suggest they start reading any age appropriate books after an hour or two so that they can enjoy the content of the stories and use their phonics right away.
Some kids prefer to read, signs, labels, game instructions, so basically they can read anything they wish so that they continue to use the system until it becomes it a habit- just like brushing their teeth.
Q4: I'm already using Jolly Phonics, how can I use your program?
A5. All phonics programs have their unique advantages. We do not compete but rather complement. Our systems can be used concurrently with any existing program you have adopted.
Using our program will provide you and the student with a simple and systematic way to quickly acquire blending and decoding skills.
After completing the 4 hour program, most students can begin to apply the systems to their reading and writing tasks independently.
Our program is like a catalyst to your existing chemical reaction. If you add it, it could make the reaction faster and better. If not, it won’t change a thing and you may carry on using your existing program.
We hope to bring out the potential of each and every child and hopefully expose their hidden talents.
Q5. What is the theory behind The Maelan Way?
A5. Our motto is “Less is More”. This can be explained by Pareto’s Law which is also known as the 80/20 principle, Koch, 1998. Our program aims to teach with the least input or effort to obtain the most output or results.
Basically, we have chosen only a portion of the most frequently occurring sounds to teach and it yields the most ideal results.
Q6. How do I know this program works?
A6. By the end of the 4-hour program, the following signs are a good indication of success:
1. Student shows new or increased interest in picking up a book
2. Student uses the systems to sound out new words they see in the story or to spell words when writing.
3. Student shows confidence in speaking English out loud
4. Students no longer shy away from participating in English class