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English as a Second Language

Child holding a Piper Books BRI Beginning Reading Instruction book

Learning English as a Second Language

BRI-ARI (Beginning Reading Instruction-Advanced Reading Instruction) is the result of many years of research and development by linguists and educational psychologists. It has been extensively trialled and tested. The text is known as MLT, ‘Maximally Learnable Text’, and is 'well-suited to English as a Foreign Language (EFL)/English as an Alternate Language (EAL) students. The linguistic underpinning of the books ensures that the initial selection of words actively promotes the process of blending: students find it easier to blend some sounds, e.g:

/I/ /s/ /ee/ /s/ /a/ /m/

(Note that the grapheme ‘ee’ is introduced immediately to demonstrate a characteristic of the English Alphabetic Code: more than one letter can correspond to a single sound.)

The repetition of words, selection of sounds, and careful choice of vocabulary, provide the greatest possible help in developing foundational skills. The repeated instruction to ‘say the sounds’ in the context of word reading provides practice in spoken English pronunciation and in syntax of increasing complexity.

BRI begins with only five phonemes and three words. Each new element of the Alphabetic Code is then clearly introduced and thoroughly practiced in a number of different contexts; there is frequent repetition of both new and old sounds in successive stories to ensure that information is embedded. The lively animal tales facilitate comprehension and expressive reading. Summaries and Optional Questions for each tale provide ample material for further development of comprehension and language skills.

Students gradually learn to read new words by mastering the skills of decoding and blending the text. To ensure that they ‘read through the word’, and to eliminate damaging strategies like guessing and whole-word memorisation, many of the words used in the text are chosen because they look similar (e.g. sheet/shut/shell/shall/sell).

The programme is complemented by brief, straightforward Getting Started with BRI and Spelling with BRI guides.

"I came to China 8 years ago and discovered that for the amount of time that Chinese children studied English very little was accomplished. I began searching for a solution and ran across the BRI books a little over five years ago. I have found that Synthetic Phonics is the answer for teaching English not only for China but for students of other languages as well."

English Teacher

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