Monday, October 18, 2010

Phonetics - ahhhh

For my handful of readers out there, I am still blogging. Last week just got away from me.

Last Tuesday, I headed back to Highland to tutor ESL. Instead of three women, I worked with two. Because the women aren't keen on their names being used, I am giving them pseudonyms.

I felt a bit more prepared the second time around. Part of that was because I had brought books for the women to keep.

For Jane, I chose "In Mania's Memory," memoirs on the Holocaust. I thought this would be good for her, because she speaks Polish and said she likes nonfiction stories. And, a large portion of the book takes place in her home country.

"This is a subject that I am interested in," she said, politely taking the book.

For Helen, who speaks Albanian, I chose a photo book with captions. This woman is a riot. She's quick, and will give me instruction when it's needed. She also told me she has a short attention span when it comes to reading, so I figured the shorter, the better.

Helen wants to work on spelling. So, with the help of a workbook, we chose words with similar patterns.

Destruct, destruction and distract, distraction.

Amazingly, both woman seem to have the "tion" ending down.

"It's because when I took my citizen test, I had to say 'citizen, and I would pronounce it 'cit-i-tee-own' " Helen said, like an Italian from Brooklyn.

It's the vowels that confuse both women. And this forces me to enunciate with gusto.

A's are used where u's should be. Destruct becomes Destract, which would be a word if it were spelled Distract...

So, I wrote a list of words on the board.

Up               Sap

Tuck            Tack

Suck            Sack

"Hear the difference? Suuuuuuuuck versus Saaaaaaaack."

It worked. Sort of.

While spelling proved to be challenging. Jane also wanted to work on vocabulary. She has a difficult time recalling words when she wants to. So, we played a game similar to twenty questions. Only instead of me asking, I had her describe objects, locations and occupations.

She did amazing, describing "computer," "Great Wall of China" and "tour guide."

I'm excited to meet with the women this week and go over unfamiliar words in the books I gave them. I hope that they have made progress. Above all though, I hope they know that their hard work will pay off for them.

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