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Pronunciation and its relation with phonics/spelling etc

(30 Posts)
Pyrrah Tue 06-Nov-12 16:40:38

I'm going to try and word this one carefully as I am interested in answers from an educational view-point not a social view-point - if that makes sense.

DD has just started at school 5 weeks ago. She was a very early talker and has always had good pronunciation. I noticed a couple of weeks ago that she has stopped pronouncing her 't's and using definite articles - so intead of 'little girl' she was say 'li-ul girl' and 'it's on table' instead of 'it's on the table. It's driving me crazy but apparently (according to DD) it is what she is taught at school!

Her class teacher speaks with a very strong regional accent - but it sounds lovely and she pronounces all the letters and definitely uses articles and correct grammar. However, neither of the two TAs do and I imagine this is where she is picking it up from. It's not a question of a regional accent - it's just sloppy speaking.

I was wondering whether things like non-pronunciation can have an impact on learning to spell and read? How can you learn to spell 'little' for example if you pronounce it without any 't's for example? What about listening to children read? Surely it should be important for anyone teaching early years to talk in a reasonable manner - I don't mean RP, just good plain English with all the letters that should be sounded being sounded!

learnandsay Tue 06-Nov-12 17:18:15

Presumably she will learn to, or has learned to read. Stories will have the correct spelling in them, There's no version of the three lil pigs. Incidentally, my Reception daughter had picked up a few habits such as saying "toilet" and using double negatives. I responded to the first by making a rhyme which goes people who spoil it say toilet. Me and you, we say loo. She now quotes the rhyme whenever she hears anyone saying toilet and corrects herself. And in the case of double negatives I've explained that if you don't want nothing then you want something. She's stopped using that form of speech. Self correcting has become automatic.

mrz Tue 06-Nov-12 17:28:05

I was wondering whether things like non-pronunciation can have an impact on learning to spell and read?
Yes it have a huge impact of spelling in particular. It's very difficult to work out how to spell a word if you don't say it clearly. I had a student teacher who continually said "fing" and "fin" and "mouf" and wondered why the children were making mistakes in their spellings. I tell my pupils they have to use their special spelling voice when they are spelling words and I make sure I articulate clearly and precisely when dictating words and sentences.

learnandsay Tue 06-Nov-12 17:33:02

What was the word "fin" supposed to be?

mrz Tue 06-Nov-12 17:48:15


Ferguson Tue 06-Nov-12 17:58:29

" thin " ??

Yes, mrz, if only everyone could articulate! I think we are a dying breed . . .

There used to be such a thing as "BBC English", but that was VERY long time ago. On the odd occasion I have the misfortune to see a couple of minutes of Eastenders, Coronation Street etc, I despair for for the future of civilization.

Even Blue Peter has gone down a similar route. Thank goodness Charlie and Lola can still be relied upon to uphold morals and the English language!

mrz Tue 06-Nov-12 19:07:58

Interestingly I had prolonged speech therapy last year following a naso-endoscopy and the therapist insisted I shouldn't articulate

AThingInYourLife Tue 06-Nov-12 19:14:47

I went to the school phonics meeting and saw these words all in the same group:


Now to my ear, two of those kids are doing their own thing.

I don't pronounce should or wood with the same vowel sound as fool or tool.

Nor does my daughter.


MisterPC Tue 06-Nov-12 19:18:26

I responded to the first by making a rhyme which goes people who spoil it say toilet. Me and you, we say loo.

I've never heard this before! smile

What's wrong with toilet? Too formal?

learnandsay Tue 06-Nov-12 19:23:46

In my family you're supposed to say things like napkin instead of serviette, sofa instead of settee, loo or lavatory instead of toilet. But the school doesn't know that. So my daughter learns to say all those things and then comes home and unlearns them again.

MisterPC Tue 06-Nov-12 19:32:23

In my family you're supposed to say things like napkin instead of serviette, sofa instead of settee, loo or lavatory instead of toilet.
Is there a reason? I just wondered as I think we use all those words and their synonyms and I just wanted to make sure they weren't considered rude or anything in some parts of the country (assuming you're in the UK of course).

Pyrrah Tue 06-Nov-12 19:33:49

She's at a school nursery so right at the very beginning of phonics and learning to read.

Thank you for your replies - I am of the BBC English speaking, loo using breed and so always a bit wary as to whether things are actually wrong/a potential problem or just different from what I am used to.

Learnandsay, does your daughter get any problems for using that rhyme? DD said loo until everyone laughed at her 'lah-di-da' accent and now says toilet with the best Bermondsey accent she can manage. I got into massive trouble at school for refusing to say 'pardon' and I'm weighing up whether I prefer to not correct and just wince or insist and perhaps make her life more difficult.

At the moment I am trying to convince her that she should speak in Princess language - all good things are apparently pink, sparkly and associated with princesses - but the second she stops concentrating it slips right back. I'm hoping the accent will eventually self correct or she will become bilingual, but my main worry is that she will find it harder to learn to spell or read if she is taught by people who don't speak properly.

Is it reasonable for me to ask her teacher to actively correct her during the day?

Ferguson - I'm still amazed how many people mess up compared with, similar to and different from. Neither the BBC nor Radio 4 are exempt.

learnandsay Tue 06-Nov-12 19:34:20

My parents are very formal and we get told off if we don't use the correct terms, (even though we're grown up.)

Pyrrah Tue 06-Nov-12 19:44:08

Mister PC - it's not easy to explain. A lot stems from people thinking French sounding words sounded more gentile and a back-kick in favour of solid English words. If you google U and non-U I seem to remember that Wikipedia has a good article on it.

I was brought up with napkins, sofas, living-room/drawing room not lounge, loo or lavatory, pudding not dessert, scent not perfume - and my grandmother literally cringed if one said mirror rather than looking-glass.

When you are brought up that way and your child comes home, puts their bag on the settee in the lounge and announces they 'wanna go toilet' it's like fingernails on a black-board.

MisterPC Tue 06-Nov-12 19:45:00

My parents are very formal and we get told off if we don't use the correct terms, (even though we're grown up.)

Thank you, you've taught me something I've never heard of before, U and non-U English. Very interesting as I considered those words complete synonyms (and loo as slang).

Some of the suggestions sound really strange nowadays though, "looking-glass" instead of "mirror" and "spectacles" instead of "glasses"! smile

mrz Tue 06-Nov-12 19:49:29

but loo is slang hmm and toilet is a term that has been in usage since the 19thC

learnandsay Tue 06-Nov-12 19:49:51

Pyrrah, no. She doesn't seem to have any problems with it.

learnandsay Tue 06-Nov-12 19:52:58

Loo comes from garde l'eau.

CameronSmith Tue 06-Nov-12 19:57:15

My child had been prounouncing many things correctly for years and then getting it overturned by school. Last year the new teacher said ''haitch' instead of 'aitch' for the letter "H" and I was amazed that my child not only picked it up but wasn't aware he had changed. The same teacher said "think" at the end instead of "nothing". Many other similar things have come from school (from other children & adults). I am never sure how many are 'regional' and therefore not something one could appropriately criticise the school for not putting right. "Garridge" for "garage" was the last one I remember cringing at but wondering if that is correct somewhere?! There have been many others but they don't spring to mind right now.

We also say napkins, sofa and loo. This wasn't conscious it's just the words my family use. I didn't know loo was 'better' than toilet - what an interesting thread!

iseenodust Tue 06-Nov-12 19:59:10

OP you are spot on:

DS in the car beside a tub of sweets for Halloween - "This tub is wrong."
"It says trick or treat."
"What's wrong with that?"
"It's trick or tree!"

Cue maternal meltdown. DS is 'above average' for literacy and age 8.

Pyrrah Tue 06-Nov-12 20:01:50

An American friend told me how cute it was that I said spectacles the other day and it was only then that I realised how long ago it must be that spectacles was in common usage!

Language evolves all the time so hard and fast rules are silly, and some words that my parents shudder about I will happily use, but it is a bit like swear words - if you are brought up not to use the c and f word it will make you feel uncomfortable to hear or say them, if you hear them constantly then it has less of or no effect on you.

mrz Tue 06-Nov-12 20:06:42

learnandsay there isn't a definitive answer to the origins of "loo" your version is one of many theories. I recall my grandmother, a Victorian lady, being shocked at the word "loo" which she considered quite vulgar

HoratiaWinwood Tue 06-Nov-12 20:11:30

"garridge" is better than "garaaaage" because it's a totally absorbed English word, not a current French loan. See also "onvelope". No.

Haitch and pardon make me grit my teeth.

Pyrrah Tue 06-Nov-12 20:16:52

It should really be lavatory I suppose - but you get funny looks if you are under 60 and ask for 'the lavatory', so loo gets round the problem. Tbh, I just wish the American 'bathroom' was used more often.

What I find interesting is that if a teacher consistently made small errors in maths - or a language teacher messed up the pronunciation of French words - then there would be an outcry. Yet there doesn't seem to be the same attentioned paid to our native tongue.

When parents come in to listen to children read, are checks carried out as to their own level of literacy and grasp of pronunciation, sentence structure etc or is it just a case of taking anyone who signs up?

Also if you volunteer to listen then should you actively correct the haitches, glottal stops and so on? DD pronounces 'girls' in a way I cannot even write phonetically - 'gau-ws' is about as close as I can get - I would want anyone listening to her read to correct not reinforce.

DeWe Tue 06-Nov-12 20:20:44

Interestingly I have the other way (sort of) with ds. (year 1)

He has glue ear and has developped some speech issues from it. His main problem sounds are "j" "sh" "s" and "ch" now.

At the last SALT session the lady was talking to me at the end while he was playing, and she said she'd written down the sounds. He came, looked over her shoulder, and promptly said all the sounds almost perfectly accompanied by their "action". We discovered that when he is blending, he uses these sounds, just doesn't in general speech.

So he has not found his speech has effected learning phonics negatively. However learning phonics has effected his speech positively. He can't hear the sounds (we think) in general speech, however because of phonics he had been able to learn them.

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