Friday, 6 February 2009

The Queen's English

Well, I'm just calling it that.......

I've had a few conversations this week about what it must feel like to be Christopher, learning how to read in Scotland. You see, when we left Dallas, Christopher was on the cusp of reading. He worked so hard his pre-school year with Mrs. Bierfeld and he was jumping into reading in Kindergarten.

Then we ripped him out of his comfortable little world and threw him into a school where the letters are not called their names but the sounds they make. What? Not the sing-songy familiar ABCDE......but, Ahh, Bay, Say (C), Duh, get the picture. Try spelling his name that way. Tedious isn't it?? (Once the children learn how to read here, then the letters are called their names.)

So, Christopher has been plugging along for the last 18 months, basically starting from scratch again with letter sounds and blends and then onto reading. In the Queen's English. Some of the words are new to us, some are spelled differently and some just sound completely different. Must be overwhelming. Like processing a foreign language in your head.

One day last week, while driving in the car, Christopher and Ethan had a discussion about the correct pronunciation of VASE. Christopher of course was saying vase (with a short vowel) and Ethan was saying vase (with a long vowel). They were arguing about which one is correct. What's interesting to me is not which one is "correct", but that Christopher has learned the pronunciation from Scotland and is standing by it! And that to him, this is the correct way to say it. And this is just one example. There's vitamin (short vs long vowel), schedule (can't even begin to say that one), tomato, and many more.

I don't know why it has taken me so long to realize the challenge that he has faced. We knew that it was hard and that he was having a time, but golly! Everything is different for all of us but when it is something as basic as letters, that takes the cake. Christopher has been a trooper and continues to progress in his reading everyday. But in the beginning, I can only imagine what his brain was going through! And I love that to him, the correct pronunciation of words will be as he remembers them from this dear green place. And Charlie too. (that little booger goes to Kindergarten this fall and will be pre-reading shortly thereafter!) Ethan has filled the gap most times because he remembers things as he learned them in school in Texas and is able to translate them for us all as we learn them differently here.

So three cheers for Christopher and his new native tongue! Clearly, I'm still learning........