Where have all the vowels gone?

21st March 2003 at 00:00
This verse may help you consider the merits or demerits of ideas discussed in the article. First, read it through. Now consider what processes you think you used to read it.

Next, ask children to read it. Ask fluent readers and also children still getting to grips with words. Then ask them how they did it? What they found difficult about it? What was wrong with it? I found the children's answers fascinating.

Samantha, six, an emergent reader at the stage of reading "says" as "yes", was able to negotiate some though not all of the missing vowels in cvc (consonantvowelconsonant) words.

Daniel, six, read the verse ponderously but correctly. According to Daniel, the problem was, "too many letters in this word", pointing to 'aroo' of 'kangaroo', the only word he'd stumbled over. Other missing letters hadn't troubled him.

Daisy, six, was magnificent and, like many, read it without a blink of a hesitation. "So, what was difficult about it or wrong with it, Daisy?" No mention of missing letters. Daisy tried gently to point out that the syntax could have been better, it needed "more ands".

Vispan, seven, who read, "no" as "on", and "as" with the vowel missing as "so" initially, negotiated most of the missing vowel words and didn't see them as a problem.

Alastair, seven, who simply flew through it, analysed his working methodology big time. "I tried the word with different letters in the middle, and when I got to the one that made sense, I thought, that's the right word."

If you've a moment, why not try it. I hope it raises some issues for you.

th*s poor d*g *s v*ry th*n, th*t r*ch c*t *s v*ry f*t, c*t *s eat*ng s*x b*g f*sh look *nto h*s s*pper d*sh.

th*s poor d*g *s going to g*t, th*t r*ch f*t c*t's s*pper y*t, d*g says, "h*llo, l*ttle m*ss" asks th*t f*t c*t for a k*ss.

c*t says, "no, I don't k*ss d*gs, k*ngaroos, snakes, *nts or fr*gs" d*g says, "look c*t, c*n you see one b*g bl*ck bird *p th*t tree?"

c*t says, "y*s", forg*ts h*s s*pper, climbs the tree goes *p, *nd *pper, d*g says, "nice one!" gr*bs the d*sh starts to eat the s*x b*g f*sh.

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