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.

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