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Teaching English To Slower Learners

My girl is rather strong in her English. Early introduction to both Phonics and reading books of all kinds – including high frequency sight-word books like Peter and Jane amongst others helped her with language learning. Spelling we started since K1, just for fun. Her kindergarten doesn’t do spelling at all.

When i say for fun – we do it via rhythmic sounds. Like a tune to create a ring to the word for easy learning. Know how the National Day song where they shout out ala cheerleading cheers? There are some words that can have that kinda ring to it and since the rhythm is catchy, even when my girls are doing colouring or playing, the spelling words became like their own song, always on the lips. Wink

If you’ve watched Akeelah and the bee… tells a story of a girl who is good at spelling words for a black girl. The story showcases her style of learning words – she likes to tap her hip while reciting letter by letter. Gives her a rhythm in remembering words! So, that worked for her…

Was coaching a P4 boy with Phonics cos his reading was really weak – my tutor friend recommends parent send him for private lessons in Phonics to catch up with his reading glitch that is slowing him down.

I took up the challenge and boy was it a challenge cos he mostly replies to my questions in Mandarin or mix of Eng/Man. When i asked him to practise English speaking with his friends, he says… Tah men ye sher jiang hua yu – they also speak in mandarin…

So it was back to basics for him, and really train him to curl his tongue from China to Queens. Since he dislikes reading cos he doesn’t understand what the words mean most of the time, he refuse to revise his spelling words much to the exasperation of his parents – who were both 100% Mandarin speaking!

What does he like? Crafts, Science experiments and everything sciency mebbe except Scientology… kekekekkeh… and also Maths. Strong as he may in Science it pulled his marks down cos the English was too cheem for him – terminologies and all… Maths not so bad always come out tops cos he was good with heuristics, diagrams and has the analytical thinking.

So what did i do? Tap on his interest in crafts when teaching him Phonics. So he will remember the different combinations better. (He’s easily bored..)

I broke up the long spelling words he detest doing and made it into puzzle games. I also did the rhythmic spelling with him – it helped with his low attention span. Even when he didn’t know how to spell it, he rings the tune in his mind.

P4 SA2 oral exams – from usually zero to just pass only..  Mum cried on his last day with me, saying i have turned her son into an English boy and thanked me profusely. But the credit? To the mum really for making the effort to learn the sounds from me. Learning the rules of grammar and phonetic reading with me. Playing word puzzles with us when she came. All despite the handicap in language…

So the ultimate credit is her – for not giving up on her son.

She realised she has a son of below average ability, so she knew that with limited financial resources she gotta do something. Each time we met, she’s armed with dictionaries and insist I speak English with her to communicate so she too can practise the language, so she may be of some help to her son at home to revise what we have done..

She is one truly great mum…




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