Friday, July 29, 2011

Annoyed By the Letter X

As a homeschooling mom who has taught phonics to five children so far, I find the letter X annoying! I like to provide my kids with words that begin with each letter of the alphabet, as a point of reference. There is simply no appropriate English word that begins with the letter X!

The word "Xray" is often used, but it's a poor choice. Although it begins with the letter X, it doesn't properly demonstrate X's phonetic sound, which is /ks/, not /eks/.

I once Googled "Words beginning with x". I didn't recognize ninety percent of the words on the list myself, so they didn't seem to be appropriate to put on my kindergartner's Thomas the Tank Engine flashcards.

"Xylophone" is a possibility, but my goal is to demonstrate the phonetic sound my children are most likely to encounter for the letter, and /z/ isn't it, unless they're planning a career as a biologist.

I've settled for giving them words that end with the letter X. Those are the words they'll use in their daily reading: fox, sox, box. By the time we get to X, they've been asked to identify beginning sounds hundreds of times, and they usually ask why we're suddenly identifying the final sound instead. Including words like "xanthophyll" in my explanation usually halts further discussion.

The English language has so many of these inconsistencies. Maybe that's why I've always found it fascinating! My children seem to share my fascination for language, and we enjoy playing English language games, even during non-school hours.

I've made peace with the letter X, but it's a truce, at best.

What spelling or language concept do you find challenging to teach?

1 comment:

  1. I just ran across this post by accident on a Google search. It's hysterical! And it's a true and common problem. Of all the phonemes (are there 44?), there is not one as messed up as X. There are come good competitors.

    And how annoying are the letters Y and w which are consontants except when they're vowels. Very troubling.

    The part of the language that I would most like to improve is our words for numbers. Why not count:
    ... seven eight nine onety onety-one onety-two onety-three onety-four onety-five onety-five onety-six onety-seven onety-eight onety-nine twenty twenty-one etc

    This would sooo improve our kids basic understanding of our number system and math. Instead of being confused by our hybrid naming system, it would clarify. I mean the words "eleven" and "twelve" are legacies from the 12 (or dozen) based number system. The the "-teen" based words date from the twenty-based number system. These have basically been obsoleted and we've adopted the ten-based system. Lets clean up the language too.

    copyright - vkidz inc.


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