Correct Pronunciation of Toe By Toe Nonsense Words
What may be confusing for tutors using the manual for the first-time is the use of Toe By Toe Nonsense Words.
These words are exactly as described – ‘Nonsense Words’. They are not real words. They are artificial words, deliberately created by Keda Cowling forcing students to focus on the essential ‘decoding task’ Toe By Toe strives to achieve.
Why do we use Toe By Toe Nonsense Words? Quite simply, because struggling readers are smart!
One of the reasons their reading difficulties are not identified earlier is that they adopt coping or avoiding strategies. These strategies disguise the fact that they struggle to read fluently. Guessing a word is one of the first coping strategies that many struggling readers turn to.
Experienced literacy tutors often report how students can decode the first syllable of a word and then they guess the rest. Or alternatively, they work out the sound of the first letter and again, guess the rest of the word. This is yet more evidence of a struggling reader disguising their difficulties.
Stop Guessing! DECODE!
In Toe By Toe ‘guessing’ a word is exactly what we do NOT want students to do! On the contrary, we want students knuckling down to the task of decoding.
One of Keda’s major breakthroughs in the long process of developing Toe By Toe was the year when she tried ‘Nonsense Words’ with a‘test’ group. At the end of the year, she found her test group was so far in advance of her control group that it was obvious the use of ‘Nonsense Words’ was a major element in the test group students’ success. Keda concluded the use of ‘Nonsense Words’ pre-empts a student’s tendency to guess the word.
Because the ‘Nonsense Words’ in Toe By Toe may appear strange to even a good reader, on this page you can access audio files of all the ‘Nonsense Words’ found in the manual. This is an invaluable resource that will assist tutors to ensure a student (and the tutor also!) makes the correct pronunciation of the Toe By Toe Nonsense Words.
As you will hear, in order to make a clear distinction between the syllables used in the words, they are pronounced in a staccato fashion. If the tutor is unsure about the accuracy of the student’s response when reading the ‘Nonsense Words’, these audio files will clarify the correct pronunciation.
For your easy reference, each audio file below refers to the Toe By Toe page and exercises in which the ‘Nonsense Words’ are used.