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Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of February 17th

posted Feb 19, 2019, 6:19 AM by Courtney Richardson
Why do some children drop the endings when they read?
 
A frequent concern teachers have when listening to ELL students read is the students leave endings off words.  I am often asked how to address this.  The linguistics that underpin this common problem are actually easy to understand…
In Latin-based European languages, words tend to end with continuous or open sounds, so ending sounds blend right into the initial sounds of the next spoken word.  The idea of “Romance” languages stems from this common trait among these languages - words flow so melodically from one to the next that they’re pleasant to listen to.  Unfortunately, this is not the case with English – as it is not known for being a very pleasant language to listen to.  Many endings for English words are derived from German and Dutch - languages that are much more harsh-sounding than Latin languages.   
For students whose native language is Latin-based, their tongues are not trained in pronouncing and stopping sounds as abruptly as a native English speaker.  Non-native English speakers have no concept of certain “stop” sounds because they are not typical features of their native languages.  Non-native English-speaking students tend to read words how they would be pronounced phonetically in their native languages because the neural pathways for those letter sound correspondences in English haven’t been firmly established.
This is how the power of literally a few minutes of explicit instruction during a guided reading lesson can make such a profound difference in developing students’ reading and writing skills.  During a guided reading lesson, we can prompt students to read all the way through the words and teach them these ending sounds if they are not pronouncing them.  Then they need to consciously pronounce and annunciate these sounds as they read aloud softly to themselves. 
If leaving off endings is a common problem with several of your students in a guided reading group, then teaching these concepts can be threaded into your Word Study and Guided Writing.  You can use Analogy Charts, found on the Resources (Guided Word Study) page, to teach the different sounds for the -ed, -s, and -es endings.  All it takes to establish those neural pathways for English sounds is a few minutes of laser-targeted instruction scaffolded perfectly within a few guided reading lessons.
Written by: Julie Taylor, Next Step Literacy Consultant.  You can contact Julie at aplusliteracyconsulting@gmail.com

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