A professional advocacy group for strengthening basic
English literacy teaching for EFL learners in Israel
Today in Israel, too many learners complete their public school education without having achieved a working knowledge of spoken and written English that could open life opportunities to them. We believe that, with appropriate teaching and early intervention, even students who begin as at-risk learners can become proficient English students and achieve this working knowledge of English. This requires teacher training, use of suitable materials and approaches, and raising the priority of early intervention. Research and evidence-based approaches to instruction can improve literacy outcomes for these learners.
Please see the Blog posts, at the end of this page, for our ideas of how to accomplish these goals.
The Resources section that follows this one contains links to background information, presentations, journal articles, and useful documents for teaching the English letters and combinations, their sounds and how to write them, and spelling and word-attack rules for reading/writing/comprehension instruction (in technical terms, graphemes, phonemes, and rules of orthography and morphology).
We welcome English educators who would like to join these efforts. Please contact us if you are interested!
Contact EFL Literacy for All
Get in touch with EFL Literacy for All if you would like to join this effort.
Information and Research on Effective
Basic Literacy Instruction
Posted here are both concrete resources for learning and teaching English, and information on research to provide background and theory on why and how these approaches are effective.
Building Blocks Program, 2018-2019
Handouts by Janina Kahn-Horwitz and Fern Levitt
Provide the basics of how to teach EFL literacy via a structured, multi-sensory, phonics-based approach.
Introductory Concepts (in English, Hebrew, and Arabic)
Examples of Cards to Teach & Review Grapheme/Phoneme Correspondence_
Regular and Irregular English Words
Irregular words in English that have to be memorized as wholes
Syllable Types Sheet to cut up & distribute to learners
A Recommended Sequence of Introduction of Graphemes/Phonemes and Orthographic and Morphological Patterns
Orthographic/Morphological Patterns of English (in English, Hebrew, and Arabic)
Relationships between Theory and Practice in EFL Literacy Instruction in Israel: Teachers' and Experts' Perceptions about Classroom Practices
Presentation of Doctoral Thesis, Dr. Stephanie Fuchs
Report on Dr. Fuchs research on the analysis of EFL classroom practice in Israel in relation to theory of effective teaching practice.
Hickey Method Tips to Spelling
Flashcards for Learners
Hickey Method "pink rule cards" (to accompany the Hickey Lesson Order).
This set is for English and/or Hebrew-speaking learners.
These are useful spelling rules for teachers to know - many English-speakers don't even know them!
Even if you don't give the learners cards, you can explain these rules at the board and illustrate their use
with examples and in every word you encounter and text you read with your learners.
Learning to Read English
"Reading is like Driving a Car" by Jackie Teplitz
The process of learning to read, using phonics and phonemic awareness
as tools to overcome students' learning difficulties - and useful for all EFL English learners.
Whole language approaches and phonics-based approaches work together to enhance comprehension.
Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading
International Dyslexia Association
The necessary teacher knowledge and practices to teach reading to students with reading difficulties - and, as research suggests, also the most effective for teaching reading to all second-language (EFL) learners.
Weak and Strong Novice Readers of English as a Foreign Language: Effects of First Language and Socioeconomic Status
Research article from Annals of Dyslexia, Vol. 56, No. 1 (March, 2006): Janina Kahn-Horwitz, Joseph Shimron and Richard L. Sparks, pp. 161-185
Abstract: This study examined individual differences among beginning readers of English as a foreign language (EFL). The study concentrated on the effects of underlying first language (LI) knowledge as well as EFL letter and vocabulary knowledge. Phonological and morphological awareness, spelling, vocabulary knowledge, and word reading in Hebrew LI, in addition to knowledge of EFL letters and EFL vocabulary, were measured.
The study also investigated the effect of socioeconomic background (SES) on beginning EFL readers. Participants included 145 fourth graders from three schools representing two socioeconomic backgrounds
in the north of Israel.
The results indicate that knowledge of English letters played a more prominent role than knowledge of Hebrew LI components in differentiating between strong and weak EFL readers. The Linguistic Coding Differences Hypothesis was supported by LI phonological awareness, word reading, and vocabulary knowledge appearing as part of discriminating functions. The presence of English vocabulary knowledge as part of the discriminant functions provides support for English word reading being more than just a decoding task for EFL beginner readers. Socioeconomic status differentiated the groups for EFL word recognition but not for EFL reading comprehension.
Providing English foreign language teachers
with content knowledge
to facilitate decoding and spelling acquisition:
a longitudinal perspective
Research article by Janina Kahn-Horwitz, Annals of Dyslexia (2016) 66:147–170
Abstract This quasi-experimental study adds to the small existing literature on orthographic related teacher knowledge in an English as a foreign language (EFL) context. The study examined the impact of a course on English orthography on predominantly non-native-speaking EFL preservice and inservice teachers’ orthographic content knowledge, and the extent to which these teachers retained orthographic-related content knowledge four months after participating in a semester course on the topic. In addition, the study examined the relationship between participants’ acquired orthographic-related content knowledge and EFL spelling.
Both groups of teachers that studied in the course improved on overall orthographic-related content knowledge, both immediately following the course and longitudinally. Preservice and inservice participants showed similar levels of orthographic knowledge prior to course participation and both showed significant improvements compared to controls following course participation. Participants also retained knowledge four months after course completion. Overall, the inservice teachers scored higher on orthographic-related knowledge, possibly as a result of the immediate application of their newly acquired knowledge.
An unexpected finding was a lack of interaction between acquired orthographic-related content knowledge and pseudo word spelling scores. Possible methodological limitations, such as number of participants as well as the length and scope of the course, may explain this outcome.
This paper also discusses practical implications of this study for EFL decoding and spelling instruction.