Saturday, March 19, 2016

Disengaged students - A comment from a friend

My friend and former boss Mr. Kandiah Namas had commented in my post yesterday. I have copied it below for your reading pleasure.

We have to ask ourselves as to why there are no disengaged students in the Tamil language. The simple answer is that, like my friend has put it, no two persons in the world will pronounce a word differently from another if he has been taught the Tamil alphabets properly.

An English teacher, on the other hand teaches a kindergarten pupil the sound of the letter ‘e’ as in elephant. Please take a minute and think of the exact sound of the letter 'e' as in Elephant.
Then the child is told to read and encounters words like the following:

Eel, equal

Please take a minute again to see if the sound of the letter 'e' in eel and equal is anywhere near the sound of 'e' introduced by the teacher in the word elephant.

Please do the same with the following words.
Earn, earth, early
Eight, eighteen, eighty
And also the sound he has learned as in elephant.
Ebony, echo, elbow

The letter e in the above words has 6 different sounds. Why would a child prone to being disengaged (the more or less 20% of the world) not be confused when he has been taught one sound of the letter e and then is introduced to the other sounds without being told that this alphabet has more than one sound?

We have to ask ourselves as to why kids who can learn to read in Tamil and Malay are unable to read in the English language. Do we want to categorise all children who cannot read in the English language as dyslexic?

The following is my friend's comment on my Face Book post:
Kandiah Namas: On the other hand, LM, look at Tamil language. Total vowels are 12 and consonants 18. They combine with each other and make 216 letters that each letter makes a unique sound. They follow a mathematical pattern in combining. There is one more special letter called 'akkenam' . When this akkenam is written in front of a letter, the letter assumes other unique sounds, like, for example, ''akkenam in front of say 'va' will assume a sound of of 'fa'. Because there is no separate letter to make sounds of f, b, h. Total of 247 in all. That is it. Each letter has a unique sound. Any one reading Tamil language in any part of the world, will read it with the same sound. No confusion for any one, including 'disengaged' . When two words are combined, how the fist letter of the second word changes according to grammar are all codified. But the beauty is that the combined words will follow the natural movements of the lips and tongue in reading the combined words. It becomes quite easy as you become familiar with reading.

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