Monday, March 10, 2014

Phonemes, Phonics and Mixed up Names

When you are teaching English Language Learners you have to have a good sense of humor. My student teacher last fall found that out on a daily basis--and again last week when she came to help me with testing.

Her name is Mrs. Paul, but because many of my students struggle with the /p/ sound, her name became Mrs. Ball. Towards the end of her student teaching, students had mostly learned to say her name correctly or at least self correct with just a raised eye brow.

But last week, we laughed many times as students were excited to see her. "Ms Ball, you are here!" "I mean, Mrs. Paul." And when the younger students asked her why she can't stay longer at our school, she replied that she will need to go back to Mr. Paul. Students would almost automatically ask her; "What is Mr. Ball?"

Then there is my name. When I started at my current school, I introduced myself as Mrs. Terhune. It did not take long for my students to start asking me: "Why are you called mister?" It took me a little longer to get what they meant. Instead of Mrs. they automatically shortened it to Ms, and when you say that quickly with Terhune, it becomes Mister Hune. (Right now I am thinking about elsie's name story). Needless to say, I became Ms Jaana, and I have been very happy with that name for many years.

24 comments:

  1. So funny! Language is pretty hysterical, no matter who is learning it or how old they are. I have strongly verbal students (talented readers) and they still have some interesting mistakes. They had to do a vocabulary writing using the phrase "a la mode". I told them to look it up or discuss it with their parents. Several kids OBVIOUSLY did not. One talked about an "a la mode" outfit. He assumed it meant fashionable and never checked... yeah.

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    1. "a la mode" outfit--seriously funny!

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  2. It's funny how language can sound when certain syllables collide. I'm sure you have many stories of misunderstandings with your students.

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    1. Countless! Maybe that is a guarantee of future posts?

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  3. Dear Mister Hune,

    I love your story today Miss Jaana. You really are a fun story teller. I understand the name confusion. When I introduce myself as Pooh, people often wonder why my parents named me after poop.
    I am named after Winnie the Pooh.
    I hope you have a wonderful day.
    xo
    Love Pooh, Winnie the Pooh

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  4. Haha! This is so funny! ELLs fill our lives with joy and lots of great stories. It's interesting when we realize what they are hearing when we speak. :) When I taught in China, my students could never remember to use "Mr." and "Mrs." correctly, always using them interchangeably. I would frequently be called "Mr. M" by a student and then when I raised my eyebrow at the student who said it, the entire class (that student included) would erupt in embarrassed laughter.

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    1. I know what you mean! Makes the life of an ELL teacher interesting!

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  5. I can imagine that your first name isn't easy at first try either. An you can probably imagine the funny versions of my first name.

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    1. My students don't usually have problems with my first name unless they see it in writing:)

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  6. Oh, this is too funny! I live with this on a daily basis at home with my almost four year olds. Thanks for the smile today!

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  7. This made me smile - how they listen!

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    1. Or how they don't listen, right?

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  8. The stories of names lend themselves to great posts, don't they!!! I love how you captured your students' voices working to learn our language. It's so hard!

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    1. Thanks Melanie! I have to think of some other stories....

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  9. On my first trip to Georgia long ago to meet my husband's family I met a LOT of relatives. I was mystified when I was introduced to one chic young woman, and I just knew what I heard as her name couldn't possibly be right..."Country Dale." My husband tried to clear up the mystery. He said her name, I repeated incredulously, "Country Dale?" No, he said very slowly, "Cou-sin Tru-dell. We always call each other cousin." The problem was, when spoken as usual and not slowly, it came out "cud-n." When run together with Trudell, it really did sound like "Country Dale." Thank goodness I didn't blurt it out!

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    1. That is too funny! Relative stories to write!

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  10. hahahaha, Mister Hune... that's hilarious! Many of my students and families think my name is Michelle (and/or Ms. Michelle) instead of Mrs. Mitchell. When I taught Spanish to American students, this was never a problem... so I think it is a combination of pronunciation and perhaps knowing that Michelle is a girl's name... Love my ELLs!

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    1. Love our ELLs! They make our lives fun and interesting yet challenging at times!

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  11. That's so funny! What a fun bunch of kids to teach. They are trying so hard to learn and say things right - sometimes it's just so hard! :) Cute slice! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Little laughter and joy in our lives is always a good thing!

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  12. I so appreciate and understand this post. I work with a lot of English language learners and I try to help them understand that my name rhymes with Teacher but has a "B" at the beginning since they miss hear it as Ms. Teacher not Ms. Beecher.

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  13. Alyson, I totally understand!

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