George Canine makes learning fun, that’s why it’s so easily done.
While providing best practice teaching methods, the app, George Canine, Learn to Read & Write on Time, ensures that learning to read is an enjoyable and motivating experience. The enjoment and motivation arise from the fact that content is delivered within an endearing, highly relatable narrative. Furthermore, the content is embedded within dog-themed games that sustain the learner’s attention.
1. George is a learner’s best friend, all the way to the very end …
because the app is embedded in a context of fantasy and familiarity
There are numerous apps on the market that claim to teach reading skills, but the basic content, like the name and sounds of the letters, is usually delivered in isolation, that is, separate from the reading act. One of the many strengths of the George Canine app is that the basic skills are immediately applied and furthermore, applied within a narrative framework. Students are introduced to a vibrant fantasy world that is relevant to their interests and experiences. Such contextualisation is known to motivate learners and encourage them to practice the basic skills that fluent reading requires.
Fantasy and familiarity
Because so many children are familiar with canine quirks, young students connect emotionally and socially with George and his canine escapades. The connection with character and context is essential for learning because it offers students a solid frame of reference for learning to read. To illustrate, the reading practice games in the app are set within the context of typical, recognisable events in a dog’s life, like burying and unburying bones, chasing cats, catching tennis balls and chewing on sticks. Such familiar experiences enable young students to connect socially and emotionally with George Canine as a teacher. This emotional and social identification motivates students to learn.
In addition, George Canine teaches reading within the framework of an extended narrative because this medium is the best for all learning, including rote learning.
Rote learning is the type of learning that is required to lay the foundations for reading acquisition. The goal of rote learning is instant information recall of the identity of written words. Through repetition of sound-letter associations, words can be recognised almost automatically. While the instant recognition of words is vital for fluent reading, the constant repetition that rote learning requires can be monotonous and uninteresting to the point where children disengage from the learning process. For this reason, the rote learning is embedded in a fantasy world full of interesting narratives so that children remain engaged and active in their learning.
Narrative stories encourage learners to imagine; something that young learners love to do. In this app they suspend belief alongside George as he, his cartoon friends and his real world students participate in the reading process. To illustrate, there’s dancing Alice the, a, apple and a bird called Bryan, who represents the letter b. There are George’s ‘letter bones’ that must be buried or dug up, and a reading game that enables George to chase Carol, the, C, cat. In order that children can apply their basic knowledge to the reading process, George introduces them to his music band, comprising Hayley Horse, Brian Bird and George himself. Further on, in narrative form, George laments Carol Cat’s reluctance to play Chase the Cat, and so on.
In general, then, this familiar imaginative world is thematically designed around canine interests because most children can emotionally and cognitively identify with all of those concepts and analogies – cats, bones, birds and sticks or tennis balls, Chase the Cat and music bands. Such an identity within the context of a narrative promotes learning, and it is unique to this app.
Above all, the narrative medium motivates children to pay attention, sustain attention, actively engage with and process the learning material. In this way, the new information meshes with prior learning in memory and learning occurs. The app, George Canine, is therefore unique in that it enables efficient learning to occur against the rich, colourful backdrop of George’s relatable, fantasy world.
For this reason, among many others, George Canine: Learn to Read & Write on Time provides students and classroom teachers with a distinctly efficient learning tool.
2. “Phonics first!” the experts say, so of course, that’s George’s way.
Aside from familiarity, fantasy and fun, in the first lesson the loveable beagle, George Canine, prudently teaches children a number of important basic reading skills, like phonics.
George Canine demonstrates how each of the alphabet letters corresponds with to a specific, discrete sound in spoken words. For example, he explains that the letter a corresponds with the sound, /ah/ This reading method is called phonics, and it has been shown to be the most efficient way to teach English-speaking children to learn to read.
Because there is strong evidence to show that phonics instruction is critical to the success of a beginner reading programme, there are a number of apps that offer this best method. But George Canine Learn to Read & Write on Time is better in a variety of ways.
3. What’s George’s best teaching guide? He safely relies on the tested and tried: phoneme analysis
George not only teaches phonics, he uniquely teaches phonemic analysis; itself a powerful predictor of reading acquisition. George Canine demonstrates phonemic analysis specifically, by demonstrating how spoken words can be broken up into discrete sounds. For example, he shows learners that the word fab begins with the sound, /feh/, and that it can be further analysed into the sounds, /eh/ and /buh/. Such an analysis of spoken words is called phonemic analysis, and it powerfully predicts reading acquisition.
The term used for a discrete sound category like /ah/ is ‘phoneme’. Research convincingly shows that children need to learn about phonemes (that is, speech sound categories) in order to become successful readers. It is for this important reason that George segments spoken words into phonemes, like the /ah/ in apple when he says: “ah….pull, apple.”
The skill is novel for non-readers because they never have to think about the sounds in spoken words until they begin to read. Furthermore, in ordinary speech the sounds in spoken words are continuous; they blend into each other. As they do, the actual speech sound changes. Each speach sound is determined by its adjacent letters. For example, the /ah/ sound in apple is different from the /ah/ sound in Labrador, and the /fah/ sound in ‘fox’ is different from the /fah/ sound in Fred. Therefore, each particular ‘sound’ that George teaches (/ah/, /fah/) labels a category of sounds rather than one absolute sound, in the same way that the term ‘green’ labels a category for a variety of similar colours.
The ability to analyse phonemes has been shown, over and over again, to be an important predictor of reading success. Moreover, George shows students how to use this method to read, spell and write words and non-words, within the first lesson! There are few apps that get students straight into the heart of literacy that quickly.