Our first parent/teacher conference here in the US, back in October last year, was great – the teacher was full of praise for our, then, 6yo.
He had settled successfully into his new school. He was doing well in all subjects. He was a confident, sociable boy, who got on well with his classmates.
But, there was a small issue with his vowels…
We didn’t need to worry though, the speak therapist had been consulted. His vowels would be fixed within a year or so.
I resisted the urge to point out that there was nothing wrong with his vowels, and that in fact, his vowels were quite correct, thank you very much… much to the relief of my husband!
The problem, of course, was actually accent versus phonics :)
So, I started to listen more closely to the American accent.
We live near Boston. B-aw-ston is B-ah-ston if you speak to a native Bostonian. I began to see where the problem lay!
When the 6yo was listening to words with short vowel sounds; like hot, hat and hut; he was struggling to differentiate. To be fair, hubby and I struggled too!
When hot (h-aw-t) becomes h-ah-t is the teacher saying hot, hat or hut?
And when that teacher is a tinny voice in an online phonics programme, you’re really screwed!
Thankfully (or not, depending on your perspective) the 7yo has absorbed an American accent – phrasing, intonation, the lot – and no longer has any problems at all with his phonics.