I’ve always known that English is a rather funny, or more accurately, a rather inconsistent language. But I never realized just how frustrating that inconsistency can be until I started teaching my daughter phonics. With all the confusing spellings, digraphs, similar-sounding words that are spelt differently and words with multiple meanings, I am frequently at my wit’s end when facing doubts and questions from Kavya.
- How do I teach her to say ‘put’ the right way? As far as she is concerned, ‘u’ is pronounced the way it is in ‘umbrella’. So she reads ‘cut’, ‘but’ and ‘nut’ OK but when it comes to ‘put’, I’m stuck.
- How do I make her understand that 'cake' starts with a 'c' and not a 'k'?
- How do I explain to her that she reads ‘hug’ correctly but when a single letter ‘e’ is added to the end, she has to read it as though she were reading ‘hewj’?
- How do I teach her to read ‘door’? When I try to read it the way we pronounce it, she corrects me saying that since it has two o’s, it needs to be pronounced the way ‘good’ is pronounced.
- What do I say when she asks “Why is it called a kitchen counter Appa? Is it because you can count on it?”
Even worse is the fact that there’s no way of pointing out her mistakes either. Attempts to correct something she says are usually met with a question like “So is my teacher wrong Appa?” Not wanting to turn her into some kind of a rebel who doesn't respect her teachers and not inclined to incur the wrath of her teachers for that, I am forced to back down at that point and meekly accept her version of the word.
I know that more reading and listening to people talking as she grows up are going to help her understand the intricacies of the English language. But until then, I need to realize that when she says 'huggy', it may not be a request for a hug at all. She may just be trying to read the word 'huge'...