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Thread: Syllables!

  1. Newbie
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    Exclamation Syllables!

    One of my amazing tutor's is having a little difficulty with teaching SYLLABLES. As I’m still trying to find more resources in this particular area, I thought you might be able to share a few new ideas.

    The below email is in regards to one of my tutor’s current problems on getting through syllables. I’ve exhausted my ideas on how to help; saying words out loud, tapping a foot or pen to hear the number of syllables, using words from short stories as practice, making mock tests, etc.

    If you have a moment, could you please read the below email and share your thoughts?

    I thank you in advance for all your help!


    Vincent Morin

    Message from EWT Tutor;

    I could really use your help, specifically with strategies to help me get my learner off this plateau that we’ve reached with syllables.

    As you know, we’ve been working on syllables for about 6 weeks and we’ve reached the point where there is nothing new that I can teach. We’ve worked through all the examples/practice tests in the text twice (thankfully the learner didn’t notice that we’ve repeated things!), and have created our own exercises by reading short stories in the Challenger books and identifying/working through the multi-syllable words we come across.

    I’m still concerned that the learner will not pass the test, for two reasons. One is because of the way that the test is written. The other is because the learner is not consistently following the learning strategies for syllables that we’ve worked so hard to achieve (more on this in the next paragraph). The learner is not the best at processing new information, or with English comprehension in a new context, such as on a written test. Unfortunately, the text does not have any practice tests that follow the same pattern as the actual test. I realize that part of the learning goal is to be able to fully comprehend English, specifically in an educational setting (such as these tests, and eventually at Post Secondary), and not just by rote memorization (such as recognizing patterns in a test). The learner’s reason for doing so poorly on the first test was because the learner didn’t understand the questions, and hadn’t seen those types of questions before. We both know that’s not a good reason, as the learner could have/should have asked for clarification during the test.

    Part of the problem is that when the learner thinks that their ways are correct, the learner is very hard to persuade otherwise. Part of the problem is my message and how it’s coming across; there’s got to be another way of reaching this learner. As an example, during Friday’s tutoring session, I finally reached a breakthrough, by getting the learner to say every word out loud before breaking the word into syllables on paper. I’ve been noticing for a while that when the learner says the word out loud, the learner can consistently write the word into the correct syllables. When the learner doesn’t say the word out loud, the learner consistently makes errors when writing the word into syllables on paper, which are instantly corrected when the learner says the word out loud. On Friday, we were working through some 3+ syllable words, and the learner said a few of them out loud, but not all of them. As expected, the ones the learner said out loud were written correctly, and the ones that weren’t said out loud had errors. This was the first time that the learner could see, with immediate results, that the learner actually does better when the learner says the words out loud. However, this didn’t last long and the learner went back to old habits during the next set of words.

    I’m now at a loss on how to proceed. At this point I’ve taught the learner everything that the learner can possibly know about syllables, but for some reason the information isn’t sticking. Do you have any suggestions on how I can change my message/teaching methods to help the learner succeed?

    Our next session is Wednesday at 10 am. I’m happy to stop by your office before that if you wish to chat and share some advice/new materials.

    I hope that this email makes sense and doesn’t ramble too much. Looking forward to your feedback and suggestions.

    EWT Tutor
    Last edited by Tdol; 07-Dec-2010 at 08:32. Reason: Address and phone numbers removed

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    Re: Syllables!

    My initial reaction is to suggest moving to another topic for a time. I am not really clear what is meant by 'teaching syllables', but trying to teach any narrow topic for such a long period seems doomed to failure. The learner will be wondering if there is anything in language but syllables.

  3. Editor,
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    Re: Syllables!

    It may be a good idea to give them a break and go back to them later- six weeks on syllables sounds like an unbelievably long time to spend looking at this one thing.

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