it's about silent letters and confused kids..

Malaysia
July 9, 2010 11:12am CST
i do a bit of teaching at a home for displaced kids every weekend...it's one of my own ways of doing my bit for the community :) last weekend we were doing some basic computer work, and some language skills. and just my luck, it was the time to tell them about those mysterious 'silent letters'.. knee, know, knead, knife, knowledge, comb, tomb, bomb, fudge, bridge, ledge, aisle, team, spread, boat, people, jeopardy, gnarl, gnaw, gnome, foreign, sign.....just some of the words that have a 'silent letter' within. so, just like i was confused the first time i learnt about those words, these kids that i'm teaching are as confused as ever... and that was last week. this week i'm supposed to give them some exercises to do, a bit of grammar and stuff. and i can just imagine those blank faces staring at me.. oooh boy i hope that i can explain it to them again clearly that a silent letter is used to make other letters sound a bit different, and is not actually pronounced.. and i hope that i won't giggle too hard when i see their blank faces again after i tell them that... hehe.. i hope i won't end up like a contestant on 'Jeopardy'.. hey there's a silent 'o' in there too! hehe.. have you ever tried explaining 'silent letters' to a kid? i find it so tricky to do... do share your experiences. i'm sure some of them would be quite memorable :)
2 people like this
21 responses
@ellie333 (21029)
9 Jul 10
Hi Mario, Well I admire you for doing this, I haven't a clue but I just asked my six year old howhis teachers explain this and he said 'oh I don't know mum but like SOME you don't say the e on the end I just know, ask my teacher' So can't help on this one, I only know how to explain kicking k and curly c lol. Huggles. Ellie :D
1 person likes this
• Malaysia
9 Jul 10
hiya Ellie.. thank you for your kind words it is quite tough dealing with the bunch of them...and this particular segment in their language class is a real challenge for me. i hope there won't be too many blank stares this week.. hehe huggles to you too
1 person likes this
@zed_k4 (17627)
• Singapore
10 Jul 10
I know what you mean, Ellie.. I try doing that myself and having some difficulties, hehehe..
• Malaysia
10 Jul 10
hi zed buddy.. i think your name has a silent thingy too....i can't seem to pronounce the '_' between the 'd' and the 'k'
@saphrina (31740)
• South Africa
9 Jul 10
Try rhino sweetie. My mom had to really work hard to get that one in my head. She still makes fun of me when i visit and we talk about it. I personally don't think it is freaking funny. TATA.
• Malaysia
9 Jul 10
did you make a 'hino' kind of sound?
@saphrina (31740)
• South Africa
9 Jul 10
You should have heard it. I sounded like a freaking cat with asthma or something.
• Malaysia
9 Jul 10
you do know that you shouldn't have told me that
@tomitomi (5441)
• Singapore
10 Jul 10
I salute what you do mario! I've seen how confused kids were when it comes to silent letters. The dwarfs in fairy tales which become gnomes, the African antelopes called gnus, the difference between gnash and gnaw... It reminded me so much of my French class where my teacher would persistently and insisted that they should be pronounced as such.
• Malaysia
11 Jul 10
thanks tomitomi gnash, gnaw, gnu... i think i'll be using some of those as examples today.. hehe...those french teachers. tell me about it. i had one who was persistent and kept on insisting on the pronunciation too hehe...
@tomitomi (5441)
• Singapore
11 Jul 10
Just like English, French has a lot of silent letters too! In fact lots of english words originated from french. I couldn't blame her. She did her job well. It was just that we were not used to the language. C'est la vie!
• Malaysia
11 Jul 10
hehe...now let's not get started with the silent letter in French words.. i'd just confuse myself just like those kids got confused
@zed_k4 (17627)
• Singapore
10 Jul 10
Bro, try Je'taime.. I've always having problems with this one.. I mean it's cool to pronounce it, nice to hear.. but the I keep comparing this with the word anime.. with the May........behind, but the Jetaime is a bit different..maybe you can use this comparison.. which still confuses me right up to this point.
@zed_k4 (17627)
• Singapore
10 Jul 10
By the way, that's just so awesome.. you giving back to the community, doing work like that.. keep it up, bro.
@sunnycool (12737)
• India
10 Jul 10
Yup its good to pass on some knowledge...we do not have any such ones which encourage teachings here except those charities which would love to have money in their hands indisguise of donations.
• Malaysia
10 Jul 10
@Zed: i think i just twisted my tongue trying to pronounce that word! the trickiest part for me with those kids is that they are always making references to the Malay language too....well, kids can be kids. and i'll just have to try my level best @sunny: yup...we've got those kind of 'charities' here too.. and they can be quite annoying in the way they approach people for stuff, only to find out later that the monies and the items donated don't really reach the people that it's supposed to go to and be used for..
1 person likes this
@ifa225 (11099)
• Indonesia
12 Jul 10
i don't understand just like those kiddo too mario if only i can picture my blank faces here
@ifa225 (11099)
• Indonesia
12 Jul 10
actually...i don't understand with english too
• Malaysia
12 Jul 10
oh, they did give me some of those blank stares alright.. haha and don't worry...you're not the only one who has trouble with English
@ifa225 (11099)
• Indonesia
13 Jul 10
i guess i know who has trouble too... mario twin are dealing with a big big trouble now, they kill each other. i can see it clearly
@sunnycool (12737)
• India
9 Jul 10
You can ask me anything about Maths and computer programming stuff---i'm not into silent words or silent killings lol.I got heck of excuses to skip that teaching class if i were in your shoes
• Malaysia
9 Jul 10
but i can't exactly escape something i volunteered to do hmm...computer stuff eh? would you be able to recommend me some freeware or shareware educational programs? i got them a typing program and they seem to like it...i'm trying to find something with a bit of maths and numbers...
• Malaysia
9 Jul 10
thanks padhiaranand i did check it out....but i need to find out if it can be used as freeware or shareware first... but it does look quite cool though thanks buddy
• Malaysia
10 Jul 10
thanks sunny that does look interesting enough... but i do need something that can be used offline too. a freeware or shareware program would be better too, wouldn't want to inadvertently do anything wrong if you got anymore suggestions, do PM me buddy
• United States
9 Jul 10
This is why I dont like my own language I prefer Asian languages. :P
• Malaysia
9 Jul 10
i like Asian languages too...but i do get a bit mixed up when the different dialects get used then it is me who just stays 'silent'
• United States
9 Jul 10
A silent Mario?! I find that hard to believe. 8)
• Malaysia
9 Jul 10
8)
@sagar21 (1583)
• India
9 Jul 10
what..?? You are a teacher..? So..no other reason for the kids getting spoiled...he..he.. Let me ask you a funny question.. "Who is the silent member in Parliament???" Its silly ask it to your pupils.. I found myself in deep trouble during spell check dictations when I was in lower primary.. thanks for the topic... have a great day/night...........
• Malaysia
10 Jul 10
no, not a teacher. i just do some volunteer teaching...it helps to keep the mind active hmmm...silent member of Parliament. not sure. but the Sargent-at-Arms seems to be the most silent all the time i think your spelling troubles are over already because you've been spelling your sentences quite good or is that the auto spell checker at work? heheeee....
@sagar21 (1583)
• India
10 Jul 10
of course spell check do help... hooo the answer is "i"........Parl"i"ament
@Jotomy (6355)
• India
9 Jul 10
Hi mario, i am etc.. here... I do teach my son phonic words and silent letter words like knew, often, island, team, pie, toe, gauge, laugh, guess, guide, depot, watch, high, castle, catch, doubt, deft, could, would, either,.... etc., these are so funny and interesting to spell and pronounce. Teacher job is a very respectable job...
• Malaysia
9 Jul 10
hiya Jotomy why are you etc.. ? teaching phonically is really good that was one of the ways that i learned the English language...i am so lucky that my parents and my teachers had so much patience when dealing with me. yup..teaching is a very respectable and noble job :)
@Jotomy (6355)
• India
9 Jul 10
@dorannmwin (36698)
• United States
18 Jul 10
My daughter is at that age where she is learning to spell all of the different words. So far with the ones that we've come across, I will exaggerate the pronunciation of the word so that she will mentally be able to picture the world in the future while also learning how to spell it correctly. For example, with the word tomb, I will pronounce it tom-b so that she will be able to picture it but I let her know that it is pronounced tomb.
• Malaysia
18 Jul 10
hiya Dorannmwin i did try that technique out on these kids here... and i got some funny pronunciations from them but of course, i try not to laugh in front of them....so until now, i still encourage them to do those pronunciation exersizes so that they have no choice but to get used to it
@jennyze (7048)
• Indonesia
13 Jul 10
Go forward, Mario. I always laugh reading your submissions. You are so good with words, so I believe you taught the kids well.
• Malaysia
13 Jul 10
oh...thank you so much dear i do hope they really understood the lesson last weekend..i'm just a bit skeptical because there was still a couple of blank faces staring back at the end of the lesson
@dawnald (84147)
• Shingle Springs, California
12 Jul 10
My son learned how to spell a lot of those words last year and he had a lot of fun with them. Now he goes around saying: ka-nee ka-now ka-night etc. Just for fun... Which is totally off topic, but I just had to tell you. :D Also reminds me of the movie Cabaret, when he's giving English lessons to the German girl, and she ends up pronouncing phlegm "playgma" and when he explains that the 'g' is silent, she asks "zen vy is zey putting ze g, please?" Priceless...
• Malaysia
13 Jul 10
that's a real cute thing he's doing you ka-now... and i remember that scene in Cabaret too!
1 person likes this
• Hungary
12 Jul 10
Mario, may I ask you why on earth would you like to learn children of 8-10 years old abut silent letters? At least I guess from your writing they might be around that age. I used to teach older generations, teenagers and upwards, but even at secondary school students were definitely not interested in the "scientific" side of the business. And when they were not interested, they stared blank, then I knew it was time to close the topic and draw their attention in another direction. Make it simple for them, something like that: "Look, this part of your leg is "knee" and we spell it "k-n-e-e". Wait until they ask why this word starts with "k". Then you can tell them there are a number of words which spell differently from what they can hear. For instance, knife, knight, etc. In these words there is an extra letter we do not pronounce. And as we do not pronounce it, it remains in silence - it is a silent letter. And now let me see how many emoticons can you collect by pointing to these silent letters?" If they do not ask about it, leave it. They will return to it at a later date.
• Malaysia
12 Jul 10
hey....that's a cool tip there mamaleone i might just try it that way at the next opportunity i have with those kids
@allknowing (65116)
• India
11 Jul 10
What you need to know is that English is a funny language that has no logic and this one comes to know when teaching children words that have silent alphabets in them and also the way some words are pronounced - banquet has a t but bouquet has no t - some logic this. So don't ever try and use logic when you are teaching kids this funny language. Mugging is what you should teach them. Good Luck mario!
• Malaysia
11 Jul 10
hiya allknowing English is a funny language when it's seen in that way and quite tricky too.. today's lesson was completely awesome. and quite funny when they tried to pronounce a few words it was quite hard to not giggle out too loud at times..
• United States
10 Jul 10
We have a nine month old daughter and all she says are simple words like momma and dadda, but today she said "sugar" for the first time, because everyone always gives her kisses before she goes to bed. Anyhow we havent got the chance to teach her those things, but some advice would be great, so please let us know what works for you!
• Malaysia
10 Jul 10
hiya David ooooh...your daughter is already starting to talk! and what a great first word she had there there's been a lot of great advice so far from the other Lotters...and i have a good feeling that the one by pastigger a few boxes above would really be useful. i'm sure going to try it out tomorrow with those kids
@pastigger (618)
• United States
10 Jul 10
Ok so there is a leapfrog video called Word caper. It actually goes over these things and make them a little easier to learn. I acually understand them a lot better after wathcing it. Sad I know. But I strugled with this all thru school. I wish I would have had this. Is really is a great learning tool. The kids seem to like it. There are others in the set like the alphabet factory which helped my three year old learn all her letters and there sounds, she knew them by 2 and 1/2. The next one is the talking word factory that starts to explian how to spell simple words. You can find them in stores or online they run about $10 each or so. I think they are great and they keep the kids attention and they really do learn with them. I hope this helps.
• Malaysia
10 Jul 10
hi Pastigger i checked out that video, and there is quite a few to choose from concerning learning English..it really does look cool. i do think i'd give it a try tomorrow and let them watch it for a bit and help explain the stuff shown on the video to them.. that's a really cool suggestion Pastigger...i really appreciate it and i'm sure it would help a lot in teaching those kids
• United States
10 Jul 10
It's really hard to learn new languages and even though the English language is the most common out there it is by far the hardest there is to learn. i've always thought if they started languages in children when they were in kindergarten on up before they are required to learn it that it might make it easier. I would try to excercises to help like sitting in a circle and just going around the room and have each one point to something that has a silent letter and then see if they can spell it. objects sometimes will help them visualise what they are learning.
• Malaysia
10 Jul 10
hiya crysontherocks i totally agree that English is quite a tough language to master. but then, it is also the most common and one of the most necessary languages to understand...hence, the little situation that i'm in now i did try something similar to your suggestion at the last class... it was a good way to get things started for those kids. tomorrow, i've got to build up on that and get them to really learn up and try and make use of those words too. it's going to be quite fun...i hope hehe..
@Opal26 (17690)
• United States
10 Jul 10
Hey mario! How handsome you look today, although still YELLOW! I think what you are doing for these kids is really wonderful. Giving back is the greatest gift that anyone could give and I commend you for that and will not kid around in this discussion! The words with silent letters are confusing even to adults who know the English language! I excelled in English, it is my first and only language and quite frankly can't imagine trying to explain it to anyone, let alone a child! It doesn't make any kind of sense so how do you explain one of the most insane languages and the most difficult one that has no basic rules when it comes so "silent letters"! Oh, and if there are rules, please let me know! I don't remember how we were taught them and I managed to learn them since it was half a century ago since I was taught them! Ok, one little joke, but true! All I want to say is that this kids, whomever they are have no idea how lucky they are to have a wonderful teacher like you and I mean that from the bottom of my heart! Love, Opal
• Malaysia
10 Jul 10
hiya Opal thank you thank you thank you for the kind words there one of the reasons my English is like this is because of where i grew up....not sure if i told you this before, but i did spend a number of years in upstate New York when my dad was studying in Syracuse it was a great way to be exposed to the language, and my family just carried on using English as our main medium over here.. and i still get tricked up by some English words now and then too..hehe... and so far silent letters are the trickiest of the lot. it is going to be quite an adventure for me and them tomorrow when i try to explain it all to those kids..i just hope i don't get too many blank faces this time around hehe..
@vandana7 (64929)
• India
9 Jul 10
Hi Mario, I really appreciates the way you are spending your life and in a way I feel bad I have wasted mine. Great going kiddo. I was in Hindi school till 5th standard, and shifted to English medium school in 6th. Obviously, I was not following any grammar or for that matter any lessons for quite sometime. In seventh standard the teacher made me read alound a chapter on Doctor Christian Bernard, the cardiac surgeon. No I didnt go wrong with Doctor Chhreyesteean Beernard, the cardeyeac soorgeeon. :) But I had the whole class laughing when I pronounced "pneumonia" - it came as peeneeoomoneyeaa. Honestly, I cant teach because I am not confident about my knowledge. :) And I didnt have kids other than grown up kiddos like Biswa. :) So never had to teach. :) But Mario, vandy aunty is really proud of you kiddo.
• Malaysia
10 Jul 10
peeneeoomoneyeaa thanks for the kind words Van this activity of mine is just small way for me to work out some balance in my hectic life...and it feels good to see those kids smiling & laughing...and it feels even better when i see some of their grades improving at school
@Joker25 (30)
9 Jul 10
I'd be a bit careful about telling them that a silent letter is used to make other letters sound a bit different, as that's often not the case. 'Knee' and 'nee' will sound the same, in purely phonic terms. A silent e at the end of a word is more ofetn responsible for changing the sound of the internal vowels. In simple terms, it makes the vowel say its name, rather than its sound, so 'cub' becomes 'cube' and the sound the u makes changes. This rule doesn't always apply either, though. Perhaps your best bet is telling them that English is not a phonic language; it is a tricksome, Germanic language which incorporates elements of most Northern European tongues as the British Isles were conquered by various rulers. Consequently, there are few hard and fast rules and some spellings just have to be rote-learned.
• Malaysia
10 Jul 10
hiya Joker. hey, you are absolutely correct there! i'd be sure to watch out for those tricky words...or else those kids will have a field day making fun of me instead well, English is quite a tricky language to master..that sounds like a good opening to tomorrow lesson thanks for the cool tip :)