Auditory discrimination: i / e

Finally, July! June's been a busy but rewarding month, so today I'm going to share some thoughts, ideas and resources to address the topic of short vowel discrimination with our children, starting with /I/ and /e/.

Short vowels are the first to be learned with the phonetic method but, while on the one hand the children recognize them visually because they associate them with the vowels of the Spanish language, on the other hand more work of auditory discrimination is necessary so that they can hear and pronounce them correctly.

I have noticed that there are pairs of sounds that Spanish speakers tend to confuse more frequently: the i and the e, the a and the lo u, and finally the o and the u

How to do this? Once the 2 sounds have been introduced separately with the appropriate activities and games, it is necessary to point out the difference between the pair of vowels that could generate confusion.

The easiest way to operate is to give each child a letter that represents the e and another that represents the i. Then we tell them, one by one, 3 or 4 letter words with one of the two sounds we are working on; the children have to indicate with the letter what sound they have heard.

For example:

Ideally, this list should be combined with other words that are not written with the same consonants (net, mist, get, hiss, etc.) and presented in random order, so that the children will be able to guess correctly more easily and feel more confident when it comes to answering. There are many more in the word boxes of the Jolly Phonics© method.

Now you can create more or less fun versions of this activity: in my class we usually jump over the chart, throw balloons or run to the chart to add a little psychomotor skills to the class and thus encourage deeper learning.

What to do when a child is wrong? I tell you what I usually do: first I repeat the word with the vowel he has chosen and then I pronounce it with the correct sound, then I encourage them to repeat it themselves, taking into account the position of their lips, tongue and teeth (phonetic articulation), to finally encourage him to repeat the word correctly and show me the corresponding letter.

Over the years I have come to realize that this is a very important job because the few hours of exposure to English in a school class are not enough for children to acquire this phonemic awareness on their own. It is important to emphasize it. What the children will do is realize, little by little, the differences between the vowels in their native language and those in English.

Here is the link to the pronunciation of the /e/ sound for you to practice ;)

More about phonics on my newest page: reading and writing in English, where I have compiled and will add links to related posts.