Alternative pronunciation of 'er'

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Post by chew8 » Mon Dec 03, 2007 1:26 pm

Judy, you are absolutely right that it's very difficult for any of us to put the clock back in order to think about sounds without thinking in terms of the letters that represent them - there has been research relating to this.

This is one of the reasons why I think we may be on safer ground using a predominantly letters-to-sounds approach with young children. There is no problem about teaching children, in reading, to sound out the 'er' in the same way in both 'herbs' and 'farmer'. We can then let them stick with that pronunciation if it seems normal to them, or 'tweak' if it doesn't.

If, however, teachers are so influenced by spelling knowledge that they can't hear the difference between these two sounds and then segment both spoken words with a stressed /er/ sound, some of the children may be quite puzzled if they are at the stage where their hearing of the sounds in spoken words is not influenced by spelling knowledge - they will hear a clear /er/ sound in 'herbs' but an /uh/ (schwa) sound at the end of 'farmer'. Children can be very sharp-eared, as shown in spellings such as 'jrag' for 'drag' and 'chrap' for 'trap'.

At the very least, teachers need to be aware that their own perception of the sounds in spoken words is probably strongly influenced by spelling knowledge.

Jenny C.

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Post by Maltesers » Wed Dec 05, 2007 11:01 pm

I agree with that! I think we are very influenced by the spelling of sounds.

I have been practising and can clearly hear it now.

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