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Qualitative elements in the study included questionnaires, group and individual interviews. The ratings questionnaires suggested that learners were more positive in their feelings towards reading and spelling after the phonics intervention. They also self-reported that they found it easier to 'break up', read and spell unfamiliar words after the intervention. While these findings may be regarded as subjective, they do give a sense of increased self-efficacy and confidence by the learners after the phonics work. Massengill-Shaw and Disney (2013) remark that there is a paucity of qualitative literacy related measures, however, the affective characteristics that learners bring to a class are among the intrinsic factors impacting literacy acquisition.

In the individual interviews, one learner remarked that 'I break the word down, before-hand I was not paying as much heed to it' suggesting that this learner is now incorporating a phonics strategy in his reading and spelling. He noted that 'you're in an easy environment…..there's no pressure', an important consideration for the ABE classroom (Burton et al, 2008). He continued by saying that 'people might find it difficult at first, it does work if you give it a chance'. With respect to spelling, this learner commented that 'I can spell 'adjustment' now, some of the words we had in front of us (to spell) it was amazing!' Lastly he commented that the group should 'be more active in the reading'. Duncan's qualitative study (2009) with literacy learners also indicated that the learners wanted more reading in their classes.

Another learner talked about the 'big difference' since taking part in the phonics work in her ability to help her daughter with homework, 'she's starting to come to me now'. Purcell-Gates, Degener, Jacobson and Soler (2002) stress the importance of assessing changes in literacy practices or events when evaluating literacy interventions as they give a measure of what people actually do with their skills. Another mother in the group also mentioned a change in her literacy practices, commenting 'it helps me with the kids, if…..asks me to spell something, he'll say the word and I'll get him to say it slower, say the sounds in my own head and then I should be able to know what the word is'. Purcell-Gates et al (2002) suggest that a change in literacy practices within the family can have an intergenerational effect. One person in the group, when asked if they felt more confident in their spelling after the phonics work, said, 'yes…because I always found it hard to sound out but I can now…. well a lot better I think anyway'. The most reluctant learner in the group, in terms of phonics, acknowledged that 'I'm more confident……I actually am more confident' in his spelling after the phonics work. This learner was especially pleased to see his actual results from the quantitative assessments needing perhaps that 'hard evidence' that he had made improvements. When I asked why did the learners think I used nonsense words in the phonics instruction, one man said 'because you spell them the way they are….they don't mean anything but you can have a go at spelling them'. Another learner commented that 'if you can spell the nonsense word you can spell the real word, it gets you used to the sound of the letters'. Both of these comments show that the learners could see value in using the nonsense words and helped me to justify their use in practice.

I kept a reflective journal for the duration of the study and this gave me a forum for teasing out my dilemma of balancing a social practice ethos with the teaching of foundation skills which might be viewed as veering towards a deficit approach to literacy. As previously discussed, the US literature favours an evidence-based component framework towards reading acquisition. Other researchers value the voice of the learner in the process while still acknowledging the place of phonics in a literacy class (Burton et al, 2008; Duncan, 2009). Burton talks of the dangers of 'dichotomous thinking with viewpoints expressed as mutually exclusive'. She continues 'a belief in the potential of phonics for adults does not imply an approach that excludes all other teaching methods. Surely we can agree that an inclusive and open-minded approach is the way forward in helping adults to improve their literacy?' (in Brooks, 2010, p.23). I used my reflective journal to wrestle with this dilemma - teasing out the findings from the US literature, based mainly on researching the four components of reading (phonics, fluency, vocabulary development and comprehension) against a more social practice view which values the real world contexts and social practices of the learner. By using a more qualitative approach in my own study I endeavoured to listen to the learners' views as to their experience of


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