Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Pronunciation is a Matter of Opinion

Did you know that there are three ways to pronounce the letter A?

Ah, uh, and A.

The three possible pronunciations of the letter A, along with every other vowel, and the number of sound changes that letters make when combined with other letters are all painfully clear to you when you are still trying to teach your almost 7 year old to read after two years of Kindergarten. On a good day she pronounces the letters F, T, and other random letters like the letter H. There are lots of “huh” sounds when we read.

Part of me wishes that the word “with” really was pronounced “wuh, eye, tuh, huh”. Then maybe we could move on wuh-eye-tuh-huh our lives. It might take a little longer to get there, but at least we’d be swinging in the hammock, running after chickens, and living up the summer like we’re supposed to be, and not mad at each other for an hour because that’s how long it takes to go through every possible pronunciation of a vowel in ten words.

If there is an alternate sound, she’ll find it first.

She’s testing it out to see what alien languages we’re trying to teach her.

It also takes so long to get to the end of the word that most of the time she can’t remember what sounds existed at the beginning of the word if the word is longer than four letters, so she has to sound it out again. If she looks up once while reading a word, she has to start over with the word. If she finishes figuring out what a word is, and then looks up, she’ll forget that she already read that word and start reading it again.

I said, “Amaya, what does ‘t-h-e’ spell?” It took a year to teach her this word, and she can remember it orally, although when she sees it she still sounds out ‘tuh-huh-eee’.

“The,” she said, grateful to know an answer.

“Ok, so the letters t-h sound like ‘th’. Just put that at the end of the word. The sound ‘th’,” I said, with emphasis. “Like, this word is, wuh, ih, th.”

“Wuh, eye, tuh, huh, ‘the’. Why-tuh-huhhhhh-the. Whytuhhuhthe. WHAT?! I don’t know that word! That makes no sense! This word is so complicated! I can’t do this!”

We know that her brain works differently than other kids’. Even different from Mozely. It’s like we’re sitting down every day with an almost totally erased brain slate when it comes to reading. Yet her memory for anything that is not letters, numbers, when to be quiet, or what I sent her into the other room to put away is amazing and her ability to notice small details is beyond her age.

There are three pronunciations of the letter A.

Ah, uh, and A.

There’s also AAAAAHHHHHHH! as you run away screaming from yet another failed reading lesson.

But who’s counting.

That’s the next hour.

1 comment:

Damrais said...

I started teaching Enzo how to read when he was 3 1/2. He was so eager and would totally follow directions. Maria keeps saying she wants to learn how to read so I've tried doing the same thing I did with Enzo and when I read the directions he challenges them over and over again. Maybe it's just an age thing, but I doubt it.