Sunday, August 24, 2008

H is for Jalapenos

Back in college I tutored (actually, all of the site’s contributors did!) for a program helping struggling readers and English Language Learners. One of the precious little boys was in second grade and had only been in the US for six weeks when we met.

During some our first tutoring sessions we spent a lot of time going over the English alphabet and the sounds the letter make (the letter “sound” is written as the letter in “slashes”… i.e. J says /j/) .

A says /a/, around, astronaut. B says /b/… bear, butter (montequilla!? … yes… montequilla!), bunny… and on through the alphabet.

About the second or third time through with me modeling the sounds I asked my sweet friend to think of words he had learned and say them when we got to the right letter. I would say one first and then he would say his. A, /a/, apple… alphabet (YAY!). B, /b/, baby… book (hurrah!)… we got to H… /h/ is a tricky sound to “get” for a Spanish speaker learning English (at least in my experience it is!).

I said H, /h/… homework. A long pause, an uncomfortable look, and just as I am about to suggest a word and move, on my creative tutee gets a sly look and a huge grin and says at the top of his lungs, “H! /h/! JALAPENO!!!!” Oh my, did we have a laugh at that. He KNEW that jalapeno didn’t start with H but he sure did get that it started with the same sound that H makes!

I can never go to type or write “jalapeno” without first writing out Halapeno.

Loving every moment,

Mrs. G

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