Today in class we were doing an exercise in recognizing the middle sounds in words, specifically which two out of three words had the same middle or vowel sound. The problem I have with the exercise is that 60% of my class is Hispanic and not all of the words in the exercise are familiar words to them, so when you string along three unfamiliar words in a row, they are having to deal with retaining all three words and their sounds in their heads in order to analyze them and the individual sounds within them. If they can’t remember all of the words long enough to bring the first one or two back to compare the sounds, then the exercise is sort of self defeating.
They might have the ability to differentiate the sounds IF they can recall the words, but they have trouble with this as evidenced by the fact that often the two words they repeat back to me as having the same middle sound are not the same words that I gave them in the first place. I think this is especially difficult for the second language students, but I’ve noticed that sometimes it is also difficult for the other students as well. The school is a Title One school, and more than 80% of our children qualify for free or reduced breakfast and lunch. Sometimes I think we forget that often children of poverty who are not dealing with a second language issue, still have trouble because their developed vocabulary is limited, but for different reasons than the second language students.