Reading is Fundamental

Thu 07 October 2010

I read my first word today! It's a small thing, but I'm excited.

I'm polishing off the alphabet section in chapter 1. I keep reminding myself that there was a time when English letters didn't make sense either, or Greek, or Japanese. If only I could find Khmer Sesame Street.

The next best thing is mnemonics. I got frustrated with rote repetition and gave up for a while. Then I stumbled on a post about using imagery and association to learn Thai. It's going much faster now.

I'm using the Worcester T&G Happy Times strategy. Every Sunday they print a squiggle in the comics section, and kids submit a drawing using that squiggle.

Some mnemonics are easy:
Little l: little lizard licks large lolly.
Some are more customized to me:
Big R looks like a rattlesnake. To make sure I don't think "snake - sss" I added in a growling dog. Subscript R brackets the letter it's paired with, and reminded me of the Kids in the Hall "I'm crushing your head" skit. Crrrrrrrrrrush!
Some are a stretch:
Big W looks like the same rattlesnake with it's tongue stuck way out. Why would it do that? All I can think is it licked a frozen flagpole, like the kid in A Christmas Story. Wwwwaaaah!

Some letters are still a mystery. Ñ may remain "there's that weird Ñ letter again". It's challenging to make the vowels unique, especially when the same sounds are tied to multiple letters. I might learn those in groups with the vowel chart.

I'll solicit suggestions for the tough letters here. It'll be my own Happy Times contest.

So, chapter 1 introduced 15 letters. An exercise showed three letter combinations to sound out. Halfway through I read "m... u... ay". After a beat, the penny dropped. "M-u-ay. Mu-ay. Muay! That's 'one'!" Did I get the same thrill from English when I was four? What a rush! Soon I'll be ready for kindergarten.

Category: Languages

Tags: khmer /