“The Joy of Discovery” – Reasons to be a Santa Clara Reads Volunteer, #3

“As mentioned in my previous post, I’m currently using my learner’s resume as one source of word practice for our sessions. In particular, we’re working with a number of regular verbs to understand how the verbs change depending on whether you are talking about something that happens today versus something that happened yesterday. As my learner added “d’s” and “ed’s” to the ends of words such as adhere, bond, clean, and coordinate, he and I also discovered at our last lesson that sometimes by changing the verb to the past tense you add an extra syllable as in “bonded” and “coordinated”, but in other cases like “adhered” and “cleaned”, you just add a “d” sound without an extra syllable. How do you know which way to pronounce the words? How do you know to add a syllable or not?” my learner asked. “Hmm,” I said, “I think you just have to learn the words and you will over time,” I tried to encourage him.

When I went home after that lesson, I decided to make a two-column study aid, putting the past tense verbs that added an extra syllable in one column and the ones that didn’t add an extra syllable in the other. And then, lo and behold, I looked at the lists and noticed there was actually a pattern. The root verbs that ended with a “d” or a “t” sound had the extra syllable sound in the past tense; every other verb did not. Eureka! I felt like I had discovered a gold mine – a pattern that would make it easier for my learner to know how to pronounce words as he was reading them.

What I discovered in a few minutes of sorting sample verbs into two columns, is very likely documented somewhere in resources already at my disposal. No matter. Whether I uncover ways to help my learner through resources or resourcefulness, the discovery is still joyous, and working with my learner is a grand adventure as we both learn new things along the way.”  — Pam Leitterman, volunteer tutor

If you’d like to be a Santa Clara adult literacy tutor, get more information from here at the Santa Clara City Library website.

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