Success "GROWS" in Apopka
Even if you can talk the talk, that doesn’t mean you can read it! Just ask 41-year-old Ian Francis about an adult’s shame over struggling to read. As a former English citizen, Ian speaks “the King’s English.” After leaving England, Ian settled in Apopka, Florida, thousands of miles from his isle of origin. Here he found a reading program that addresses his particular reading difficulty: dyslexia.
As a former art instructor from the island of Puerto Rico, I followed the same light at the end of the same tunnel. Today, I serve as Ian’s instructor and as an ESL instructor and friend to many students who learn English through the Grows Literacy Council, Inc., an on-site subsidiary of Apopka Family Learning Center in Apopka, Florida, Orange County.
A Student’s Point of View
Ian relates, “I came to the Apopka Family Learning Center seeking help for my dyslexia, which has a very negative impact on my reading and writing skills. I also had tremendous difficulty reading and distinguishing vowel sounds, particularly words with vowel combinations like ae and ea, and the schwa sound. After nine months of class work and individual tutoring, I started using a computer-based software product called Reading Horizons. This system has taught me not only the sounds but the logic behind the structure of language.”
An Instructor’s Point of View
Computer-assisted phonics instruction helps students learn the rudiments of English more quickly and thoroughly because the individualized instructional models employ the visual, kinesthetic, and auditory learning modalities. There’s something for everybody who uses the Reading Horizons phonics program. While using the Reading Horizons software, students can watch the actual letters form on the screen while they mimic the strokes on their papers. They can listen to the pronunciation of individual letter sounds and letter combinations. They can repeat the sounds while observing a video model’s lips shaping individual sounds, sound combinations, and eventually, words and sentences. We recently received an LCD projector. Now I can display selected lessons on the board so students can also receive additional group instruction and review.
Adult students flourish when they can work independently. Autonomy is especially important to them, and this systematic program ensures their struggles with learning language are accomplished in privacy. They are also free to consult among themselves or one-on-one with the instructor and, of course, with the computer.
Since I implemented the phonics software program, it is not unusual for my adult learners to arrive as early as 5:30 P.M., before actual classes begin. They are so motivated to become fluent speakers of English.
Thumbs Up On Technology
Ian Francis and I are two people from two different global hemispheres whose worlds intersected in language—one as student, the other as teacher. We are two people who, through the aid of technology, are crossing the barriers of language and culture to share in the teaching and learning of language.
Even though I am a bilingual English user and teacher, this new phonics software program has actually helped my own English to improve.
Learning to read is more than just the acquisition of one skill; it opens many other valuable doors. As Ian Francis so aptly concludes, “Maybe there will be other gifts I will one day discover.”
“By words the mind is winged.” —Aristophanes (c. 444–c. 380 BC)