Saturday, February 11, 2017

Teaching the reading of English

Some days I find it nothing short of miraculous that any of us learn to read, especially given the number of phonetically irregular words that English contains. Consider the example below. How many phonetically irregular words can you find?

"Chloe! Chloe! Run! We'll miss our boat!" Phoebe shouted with more than a little panic in her voice. She was standing on the quay, undecided as to whether to board the boat or wait for her friend. Before she had a chance to make up her mind, Chloe came running and both girls dashed up the gangplank and onto the ferry at the last moment. As Chloe tried to catch her breath, she also developed a case of hiccoughs which took a while to go away.

Finally, both girls were able to relax a bit and enjoy the ride. "I can't wait to get to the island," Phoebe told her friend. "It's been three years since I last visited. I'm so glad Daphne and Michael agreed I could bring a friend. You'll love it!"
"How long has your aunt lived there?" Chloe asked.
"About five years. Her husband, Michael... I guess he's my uncle, really, though I never quite feel as though Daphne is my aunt... more like my older sister... anyway, he's always lived there. When they got married, Daphne moved to the island with him," Phoebe replied.

The waves were getting bigger now that the boat was out of the harbor. "I thought you said the crossing wouldn't be rough," Chloe said, feeling a little wobbly.
"It isn't usually," Phoebe replied. Just then, the boat dipped down into a trough created by the waves, and the girls lost their footing. Chloe fell with her full weight on top of Phoebe, knocking the breath out of her. With a little cough, Phoebe caught her breath again, and both girls stood up. "I think we better go find a place to sit," Phoebe said, and both girls headed through the doors and inside the cabin.

Two hours later, which felt more like eight to poor Chloe who had made the unfortunate discovery that she was prone to sea sickness, the boat pulled up to the quay on the island. "I think I've had enough sea voyages for a while," Chloe said, as she felt the dry land under her feet. "Well, you'll have to make another one in two weeks," Phoebe reminded her, "but it's bound to be better on the return voyage."

The girls saw Daphne waiting for them and ran over to her. After greetings and hugs and kisses, the three headed toward the car. "We live on the other side of the island," Daphne told Chloe. "It will take about 45 minutes to drive there. We'll drive through some interesting scenery, including a slough." After Daphne handed the parking receipt to the attendant, they were off.

"We have another friend visiting for a few days," Daphne said. "He's an old friend of Michael's. He used to be a colonel in the army, but now he lives in Africa and studies wildebeests. Some people know them as gnus. You'll like him. He seems like a tough guy at first, but really he's an old softy. He's been helping Michael plough the large field behind our house."

Daphne continued her running conversation as they drove across the island. As they pulled into the drive, Daphne slowed down to a cautious three miles per hour. "Why have you slowed down so much," Chloe asked as they crawled down the drive.
"We have this goat," Daphne replied. "His name is Pharoah, and like his namesake he thinks he's in charge. He doesn't like his pen and is constantly getting out. I never know where he is, but have to drive slowly because he will charge the car if he is loose. He will feint right and then left and then charge full speed ahead. I'm afraid one day the car will do more damage to him than he does to it. Someone gave him to us in payment for some work Michael did. We tried to object, but the previous owner said he wouldn't be able to live owing a debt to anyone. We took him because of a pang of conscience over the moral dilemma we were putting his former owner in. The day when I accidentally knock him unconscious with the car, will cause me a different pang of conscience."

No goat was encountered and the house was safely reached. The girls got out and were gathering their bags when Daphne shouted, "My dough! I knew I had forgotten something!" and ran into the house leaving the girls behind, standing in the yard.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While singing in the First Pres. choir, many years ago, I learned that 'ghotiol' can be pronounced the same way as 'fisher'. It was a lesson in the ease of singing in Latin, where the rules are relatively consistent, and singing in English, where the rules are not at all consistent.

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