Listen to Language!

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Once I started to realize what a system could teach me, I found some different resources and began to study the written language system itself. I needed to put the system of language in dialogue with the arguments of phonics and then see where I found myself. That dialogue looks something like this:

Argument: Divide words into syllables but don’t split up a digraph such as <sh>.

The Language: Um, dishearten.

Argument: But you could tell the student to take off the prefix in a word like dishearten. We teach our students these things. They would know that rented isn’t “ren ted” because we teach to take off the <ed> suffix first.

The Language: Unbred.

Argument: Okay, okay. But phonological awareness has to be first. It’s basic. You have to teach it before letters.

The Language: Then what are you going to say when a child tells you the first “sound” in dress is /dʒ/ (as in jump), the first “sound” in train is /tʃ/ (as in chip)?

Argument: I just won’t give those words.

Holly: That’s cherry-picking.

Argument: Okay, okay. But you have to teach phonological awareness before morphology.

The Language: Explain why there’s a /p/ phoneme in “dumpster “but not in “hamster”.

Argument: But there has to be something we can do so students can figure out any word on their own.

Holly: I thought “awry” was /ɔɹi/ (“aw – ree”) and “caveat” was /kəvit/ (“kuh – veet”) up until my mid-twenties at which point I heard them pronounced by one of my professors. How are we supposed to teach something to students that I couldn’t even do myself? That would require a magic wand and I don’t have one.



3 Comments on “Listen to Language!”

  1. Love this dialogue, Holly! Maybe you could make this a regular feature on your blog. Heaven knows there are enough arguments available! And your youthful pronunciations of caveat and awry are great examples of the ridiculosity of trying to prepare students to “figure out any word on their own.”

    • I thought the language made some pretty good arguments! I removed the angle brackets in your response, by the way. When they’re there in WordPress the entire word disappears for some reason. I don’t quite understand it, but I’m sure there’s a reason!

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