Saturday, July 18, 2020

Sounds represented by letters

                                                                      A as in ape.

I read the following tweet by ‘The Reading Ape’ as follows:

The Reading Ape @TheReadingApe

‘Decoding is the critical test of reading ability-To render aloud a pseudoword or to recognise a word never seen before in print as a specific word in one’s vocabulary cannot be accomplished by rote memory. These feats require knowledge of the alphabetic principle. Perfetti 2010
2:45 AM · Jul 17, 2020·Twitter for iPhone

With the hope of a good discussion I twitted as follows:

Luqman Michel Replying to @TheReadingApe and @PamelaSnow2

How do children learn to decode nonsense words when they have been taught phonemes of letters wrongly?

I did not get a response from either ‘The Reading Ape or Pamela Snow but louise mcmullan twitted as follows:

Problem arises when you teach ‘letter sounds’. Letters don’t make sounds, they represent them. We need to teach kids to listen for the sound in the word & to look at how the sounds are written. They also need to be taught the skills necessary to read and spell & code knowledge.

My take on this reading of pseudo words or nonsense words:

I have asked educators how the university students in Australia read the nonsense words when they did not know the correct phonemes. Read my posts here and here

My guess is that they had figured it out or learned to read via analyses. Thank goodness that many do this. My concern is with those who shut down.

I have explained why kids shut down. This is a revisit for new readers. One of the reasons is that teachers do not tell them at the onset that letters represent more than one sound.

Many kids are confused when we teach them the sound represented by the letter ‘a’ as in apple and then teach them the sound represented by the letter ‘a’ as in around.

Teachers teach the long sound and short sound of the letter ‘a’. 

Long vowel' is the term used to refer to vowel sounds whose pronunciation is the same as its letter name.

The long vowel sound of the letter ‘a' will be as in the words able, ace, etc.

These long vowel sounds are the ones the kids learn when they are taught the letter names. However, many schools don’t teach letter names saying it will confuse the kids. I don’t agree and I have written about this too. 

Short vowel sounds are those in 'pet', 'pot', 'put', 'pat' and 'pit', and the schwa sound. (internet)

Here is a reply from an internet friend:

‘We actually do differentiate for more than long and short vowel sounds in the US, but we don't have as many variations as some who use British, Australian, or other various regional pronunciations.’

As mentioned in my blog posts I have seen questioning/ confused looks from my students when having taught family words bat, cat, fat, mat, pat, rat and sat phonetically, I then teach ‘A fat cat’.

I could not understand why they gave me that confused/ puzzled look and when more students did the same I started asking myself and then it dawned on me that the confusion is because of the different phonemes of the letter ‘a’.

I taught them /b/ /a/ /t/ where the /a/ is as in the word apple. The first ‘A’ in ‘A fat cat’, however, carries the sound as in the word around. In the US, I believe it will be as in the word ‘ape’. 

It was then that I decided to tell all new students at the onset that all letters in the English alphabet represent more than one sound , unlike Malay. In Malay, each letter represents only one sound except the letter ‘e’. 

That solved the problem of the confusion. Each time we read a sentence with a ‘sound’ not encountered previously I simply point it out to them. 

I have listed all the sounds represented by the vowels in my book. I collected them from the dictionary and I hope I covered them all. My students can accept this as they already know that letters represent more than one sound.

Here are the different sounds represented by the letter ‘a’.

A as in able, alien, apron, ace, angel (This would be the long sound)

A as in axe, accent, alibi, ample, apple

A as in agree, ahead, allow, amuse, arrive

A as in arc, arctic, arm, art, aunt (this is called ‘r’ controlled)

A as in all, although, always, awe, awful.

In a website, I  visited the author, Monique, explained the phonemes of the word train as follows t/r/ai/n.

I have no problem with that but why not /t/r/a/i/n/ as each letter has a phoneme?

Can we end the reading wars if we collaborate instead of arguing? 

We will all end up dead in no time why try to prove who is right instead of what is right?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Good idea to list all sounds represented by the vowels in a book, just like your example, letter 'a' listed here. Great job! It's the book I'm searching for long. That would be very useful for learners who learn Englidh as a second language.