Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Pronunciation and Spelling II

I wrote before about how the spelling lists for first and fifth grades in my grandchildren's school are organized primarily by similar sounds and/or similar patterns. I think we've had good success this year for two reasons -- spelling test scores are rarely under 100% for either child and (more importantly) once they learn something, such as the spelling of a word, they rarely forget it.

There was an exception last week. I thought we had it conquered, but I was surprised when my fifth-grade grandson missed a word on his test the previous Friday. He had misspelled families as famalies. Hmmm! So, of course, I asked him to say the word aloud, and sure enough! He pronounced it with an "a" sound in the middle of the word. So we talked about pronunciation again, and he seemed to have it straight. I know it was only one word, but it's a very common word, and he needs to know it as thoroughly as he knows his basic math facts. I doubt he'll make that mistake again.

All this also depends on what kids hear around them, too, outside their homes and outside the classrooms. In songs, for instance, I often hear the word heaven pronounced hea-vun. And in jest, I've heard (and seen in print!) the word whipped pronounced wupt! Some are funny; others aren't, but they're always fodder for helping kids learn the real pronunciation and therefore clean up their spelling.

Pronunciation is key for most words in English, thank heaven. If parents and teachers are good models for their children, they'll help in this language-acquisition process.

Don't forget: If you have questions about anything regarding your child's/children's English assignments, or just questions in general, don't hesitate to post them.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Like ... are you tired of it yet?

I know it isn’t news that the word like is terribly butchered and misused these days. I guess what pushed me over the edge is the latest self-promoting ad on The Weather Channel for their new special show called “Epic Conditions.” (It’s probably just as awful as their “It Could Happen Tomorrow” and “Climate Code” programs are!)

In that self-promoting ad, the word like is misused at least six times in less than six seconds! It just grates against my ears!!

So how should the word be used? The word like has more than one definition and use, just as many words in English do. At present, I think the best place to look up words, terms, and phrases is, so I went there and looked up like – and it tells me that this word can be correctly used as a verb, a preposition, an adjective, an adverb, and a noun. Phew!

As a verb: He really likes his steak and potatoes.
As a preposition: He is very tall, like his uncle.
As an adjective: Those three students have like interests in electronics. (meaning similar)
As an adverb: She drove like crazy to get her injured child to the doctor’s office.
As a noun: In describing a person, you can include her likes and dislikes.

If you go to the link above, take a look at the fourth definition under adv. You’ll find the word Nonstandard. This is the slang that shows up in our children’s and teenagers’ (and too many adults’) speech these days! If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard kids misuse this word, I’d be rich!!

“He said … and I was all like, ‘Wow!’”

I’m like gonna go into WallyWorld now. Bye!

She has like five shirts that are all the same.

Rich, I tell you!! I'd be like richer than Bill Gates!