A Gem in Early Literacy Methodology

This past week I had the honor of attending a seminar by TLC (Telian-Cas Learning Concepts), a company founded by the dynamic and talented duo, Nancy Telian and Penny Castagnozzi. Nancy, a certified speech pathologist, is not only innovative and creative, but has taken her expertise and coupled it with her many talents to create this ingenious (and long overdue, in my opinion) approach to early literacy. Penny, an eternal teacher, possesses the knowledge and pizzaz to pass on the concepts of TLC’s programs, encouraging every teacher to create an appropriate forum for improved literacy. TLC  provided an engaging and comprehensive training seminar for their Lively Letters and Sight Words You Can See programs.

Lively Letters is technically a letter-sound recognition program, but with its multi-modal approach, it is so much more. Lively Letters is a ‘lively’ set of character letters created to represent the sounds in the English language (47 total). Along with the memorable artistic drawings (imagery), the program incorporates the use of oral kinesthetics, body movement, hand cues, music, and mnemonic stories to make it easier for kids to learn and remember letter sounds. Children will find the program exciting and fun-a nice break from the frustration that is often coupled with learning difficulties. Due to the comprehensive, holistic nature of Lively Letters, difficulties in the areas of phonemic awareness (the most basic building block of reading; awareness of the sound structure of language at the individual sound level), short-term memory (capacity for holding a small amount of information in the mind in an active, readily available state for a short period of time), visual processing (a hindered ability to make sense of information taken in through the eyes; should be differentiated from vision), and the rapid naming of visual symbols (how quickly individuals can name objects, pictures, colors, or symbols (letters or digits) aloud; strong predictor of later ability to read) do not have to dictate literary success. One caveat: as a speech pathologist, I found there to be excessive emphasis on non-naturalistic speech sound productions. For literary purposes, I understand the concept behind accentuating sounds such as /f/, /a/, and th, but from an articulation/coarticulation standpoint, I try not to encourage imprecise articulatory contacts. Minor caveat aside (and I do mean minor), I have recommended this program to all of my clients (including children of educators). All of whom are delighted. In my career, I have yet to find a dynamic, holistic, engaging approach to literacy that is comparable to Lively Letters.

TLC’s Sight Words You Can See program include mnemonic cues in and around the most difficult sight words (abstract words that are phonetically irregular or have infrequent spelling patterns). The mnemonic cues depicted connect all three aspects of sight words together (the way they’re spelled, the way they’re pronounced, and their meanings). The creative and witty drawings prove fun and engaging while keeping the focus where it should be-on the text.

As TLC’s slogan reads: “Changing lives, one letter at a time.” Yes, TLC, you are, and I am thrilled to be able to pass on some TLC to my struggling readers.

For more information/to purchase TLC’s Lively Letters and Sight Words You Can See Programs please visit: www.readingwithtlc.com

Look for the following new TLC products in the near future: iPhone/iPad apps, BINGO sheets, desk strips, computer fonts

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