Thursday, January 26, 2006

Phunny Phonics

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'...

15 Comments:

At 10:58 PM, Anonymous ram said...

3-adi ponnu's kitchen counter question was adorable!!!

it is called kitchen counter coz appa or amma is there all the time and you can count on them for anything :-)

 
At 11:34 PM, Blogger Sundar Narayanan said...

:)

guess everyone needs a teaching degree. you figure it out.. then i will follow your example .. he he..

 
At 12:56 AM, Anonymous Krishna Sivaramapuram said...

Wait till she asks you questions regarding tamil script. Teaching English would sound easy then... ;)

Krish

 
At 1:08 AM, Blogger Zero said...

- 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.
So, do human beings embrace phonetic langs more naturally than non-phonetic ones?

 
At 4:06 AM, Blogger Munimma said...

:-) remember this, when a child is so curious, it usually means she is extremely intelligent. So feed her the right answers.

Usually when they teach phonetics, they do all possible sounds for a letter, and then there are the rules and exceptions they teach, like what happens when you add an e to the mix, as in "at" and "ate". My older one's teacher did warn me not to jump the gun and teach her at home as their order of lessons was important.

 
At 6:36 AM, Blogger Ms Ch said...

Quick question - "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."

When you say 'her version', do you mean it is what was taught to her? And if so was she taught wrong? Just curious.

 
At 11:22 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

ram, LOL. interesting and creative interpretation :)

sundar, figured it out already! just stick to what the teachers r teaching. for new words, ask her to wait till teacher teaches it :)

krishna, haven't even gone there yet. nenachale bayama iruku :)

zero, not sure actually :)

munimma, yep do try to feed her the right answers until she jumps in with the 'teacher question' :)

missy, these problems usually arise when she tries to read something not taught in school yet. for eg., she hasnt been taught the 'e at the end' rule yet. but she's at the stage where she tries to read everything she lays her eyes on. so naturally she comes across words that she hasnt been taught yet. so by 'her version' i mean the way she pronounces words based on what she has been taught so far :)

 
At 12:43 PM, Blogger Ganesh said...

welcome to the club Bala

@munim-"My older one's teacher did warn me not to jump the gun and teach her at home as their order of lessons was important." - same sermoning happened to us also.

 
At 7:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

good one..A kid that I know had trouble understanding the logic 'because needs to be followed by something'.When asked why she did something, she'd stop with because ..Adn we'd all go because? And she with her tiny impish smile would say "Because."

 
At 2:43 PM, Blogger Vivified Visage said...

Since english was my second language, I had many of the same doubts, but these are transitions that every child makes. She will learn through listening to others on how to pronounce and say words properly. English is a hellish language to teach and to justify everything because there are always exceptions to the rules.

Gl.

 
At 7:33 AM, Blogger Kaps said...

this might be useful to u
http://patrix.typepad.com/nerves/2006/01/jolly_phonics_m.html#more

 
At 5:09 PM, Blogger Patrix said...

I thought I should direct you to some possible answers on my blog but I see Kaps has already done so. Thanks, Kaps.

 
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At 9:19 PM, Blogger Funtabulous said...

Hey Balaji!

I posted the comment and I am not sure if cyberspace ate it.

I am happy I am not alone in this.I am going thru the same with my daughter right now.She is 6 1/2 and seem to accept a lot of exception rules n stuff if I tell her so.Now when I ask her to spell a new word..she asks me....does it start with a c or k.

Thanks Munimma,tht gives me some assurance!

And yes i agree with Munimma n Ganesh! her teachers warned me know to jump the gun either....Teachers seem the same everywhere!!!!!

 

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