Beginning of a new semester

Today marks my first day back at the ELC after a long (and lovely) break for the holidays and the day was so inspiring that it deserves to be celebrated as the first post on this blog.

Although I will be branching out from my usual skill area of reading this semester, I opted to attend a Reading Horizons workshop. I’ve been to a handful of these trainings in the past and I’m always surprised by what I learn. I love discovering the rules behind English orthography. I love having an answer for my students when they have questions about pronunciation instead of just having to say “that’s just the way it is.” My students have thoroughly enjoyed having a process to follow as they decode unfamiliar words they encounter. There is something so reassuring (for both teacher and student) about being able to prove that you are pronouncing a word correctly.

The whole bottom-up process is this fascinating little automatic ballet in our brains. The fact that when I encounter a few familiar symbols on a page that represent a word I’ve never seen before I can break it down into segments and pronounce it accurately is incredible. And even more amazing is that, with some training, my students are capable of decoding those same words with ease as well. What a fantastic area of research!

The other great part of these trainings is the entertainment factor of noticing quirks in my dialect. Like the fact that I apparently say eggs and legs differently than the rules and the majority of the others in the training. My vowel in those words is the long a (like in way) rather than the short e (like in bed). Oddly enough, I am very fond of this fact. Mostly because I still recall sitting at a table about eight years ago with my coworkers from all over the world and how they went around the table commenting on each other’s accents. And when the conversation turned to me I was greeted with a simple, “Karina doesn’t have an accent. She sounds like tv.” I cannot tell you how deflated I was in that moment and how I have felt the burden of being a “tv English” speaker ever since. But at least now I can offer proof of the fact that I do, in fact, have an accent.