Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Will Hooked on Phonics Work for Me?

I hope all the Americans remember that commercial so I don't feel like such a dork for making it the title.

The monster class is driving me insane. Yes, I was lucky enough to have those little angels yet again this year. Every day with them is a joy, as you can imagine. Discipline is actually going better this year, I'm just a hard ass from the minute class starts until the minute it finishes and I think I'm slowly breaking them (or so I tell myself). But what's driving me nuts about them right now isn't their inability to behave but their inability to listen, understand, and reproduce English sounds. They can't hear the difference between thirteen and fourteen (and half of them STILL haven't learned their numbers in English) and they can't pronounce English sounds correctly. We just played a number pronounciation game where they got upset that I wasn't giving them credit for the right number, but how can I possibly do that if I can't understand them?!? So after pulling my hair out about this for weeks, I've decided to do some phonics with them. I think part of the problem is that they just don't understand that in English the sounds are different and that they are supposed to try to reproduce and understand the sounds I make, not do whatever they want. We all know the problem of the French not hearing anything in English because all movies and TV shows are dubbed in French. This group of kids is also already at a disadvantage because many of them come from poorer and more troubled backgrounds. So we're going to try phonics and hopefully that will help, and I'm also going to tell them to watch a DVD in English this weekend. Otherwise I am at my wit's end. If anyone has any other listening or pronounciation activity ideas please share!

This weekend I had my first choir concert in France! It was fine. I find it a little unsatisfying musically to be in a "just for fun" choir like this. We don't prepare our songs to the same level that I did in high school and college, so it feels sloppy to me. And last night when we were learning new music we didn't even have to sight read, the director just played our notes for us. In any case, they are all super nice, and I enjoy singing in a group and making music and using my voice for more than singing the ABCs and the Hello Song!

6 comments:

shannon said...

That's so funny that you say that the students can't hear the difference between 13 and 14. Natasha was just saying the same thing today! We don't understand it. 13 and 30, yes. 14 and 40, yes etc...

And apparently, the French can't hear the difference between ch and sh either. Which makes sense since they make the same sounds in France. But when my BTSers were listening to a cassette and the word "cheaper" was said, they thought the guy had said "sheeper"... They were like "plus moutons ont rien a voir avec les prix des maisons!" That doesn't even make sense in French!

Monique said...

totally remember the commercial!! And is your choir in English or French... because that would be super impressive if it's in French :)

Andromeda said...

I feel the same way about the orchestra sometimes, 2 hours once a week isn't enough to prepare the kind of stuff he wants us to play, and some of the winds are at such a low level . . . but whatever, I just enjoy it and remember that the audience can't tell when we make mistakes!!

au soleil levant said...

Shannon - I'm getting really interested in the whole aural comprehension with language learning thing. I'm meeting with my CP on Friday to talk about this problem, we'll see if she has any insights...

Monique - the language we sing in depends on the song! But that's normal, I've always had to sing in foreign languages. German is the worst because the vowels are so hard!

Andromeda - nice to know other people have frustrations with amateur music groups! I think it would be the same anywhere in the world

Leah said...

I think because they have difficulties with the 'th' sound, thirteen sounds like firtine and fourteen fortine so it's not that different in their little heads.

As for activities, maybe make little sheets with the different important vowel and consonant sounds and talk about words they would know. Th, sh and then the short and long vowel sounds, for example. They could also make a picture dictionary either using this same idea with the sounds or for each letter of the alphabet and glue it in their notebooks. It's something I'm doing with my CE1s right now. So, it might be something to think about. Bon courage!

au soleil levant said...

Thanks Leah, those are great ideas! I tried a mini-phonics lesson with a class that was already doing okay with pronounciation and it went really well, so I'm hoping that tomorrow with the monster class the full out phonics lesson will also be successful! Fingers crossed.