Friday, July 24, 2020

My student from Kenya (Part 2)

My student in Kenya, could sound out the phonemes of all the letters accurately after a few days of coaching.

She sounded them out correctly on her third attempt. There were hardly any extraneous sounds to the consonants.

I then taught her, via her mother, the different sounds represented by the vowels. I gave her a list of sounds represented by the letter ‘a’ and asked her to also listen to my video wherein I had sounded them out. You may find the video I sent her here.

I decided to find out if she could really differentiate the sounds. I have never done this with any student before; this is the first time I am teaching a kid to spell for spelling is her main problem. An idea then came to mind and the following is what I did.

I gave her two paragraphs from an article and asked her to categorise the words containing the letter ‘a’ according to the ‘a’ sound list as shown below:

1. A as in able, alien, angel
2. A as in axe, ample, apple
3. A as in agree, ahead, allow
4. A as in arm, art, arc
5. A as in although, always, awe

The following is how my student categorised the words. I believe the words in red are categorised wrongly.

1. ages, behavior, page, many, after, says, space,
2. have, a, can, glance, at, and, as, approval
3. associate,
4. share, staring
5. all, approval, almost

I discussed this with my wife and she feels that this is not a fair exercise to be given to an 11 year-old kid. 

It is quite obvious to me why this very smart kid is having a problem reading as well as spelling. She copes with reading by skipping and also by adding words that she feels is appropriate. This, I believe is her coping mechanism kicking in.

Like a majority of smart kids, she has learned to cope with reading to avoid shame. She has to now unlearn this coping strategy and watch the words she reads. This will take a little time but with the conscientious help of her mother I am confident she will be able to read and spell at grade level when she gets into form 1 (Grade 7) next year - 2021 -  when the lockdown in Kenya is lifted.

She is a very smart girl; she just needs a few pointers to get her on track.  

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