Volume 4 #10
Those of you who have used the Reading from Scratch program
will know that Chapter 8 of the Tutor’s Guide discusses
the need for teaching syntax and grammar to a dyslectic student.
The main reason you start so early in the program to teach
how to recognize nouns and verbs is that there is a spelling
rule attached: If the last sound in a word is /t/ or /d/
the word may be the past tense of a verb. If that is the
case, the sound must be spelled with the letters -ed.
When you have gotten farther along in the material you
will be explaining about adding prefixes and suffixes , dropping
silent e’s, doubling final consonants
to protect short vowels, etc. More spelling rules. So you make sure the student
can distinguish nouns from verbs, sometimes using them in two sentences, once
as a noun and once as a verb. (Many words like ring, hope, plant, etc. can
be either noun or verb.) At this point you will also have
added adjectives and adverbs to your collection of parts-of-speech
making sure that the student can identify each kind.
Why? Because prefixes and suffixes have two different roles
to play. A prefix changes the meaning of the word, often
giving the opposite one: tie, untie, or close, disclose.
A suffix, on the other hand, doesn’t change the general
meaning, but does change the part of speech. Happy is an adjective. Add the
suffix, -ness, and you have happiness, which is a noun. Colorful
is an adjective. Color is a noun. There are exercises in
all this in the workbook, and you should be giving a lot
of it orally. It gives you some variety when you have been
going flat out on phonics for awhile. Put suffixes on a lot
of words and have the student tell you which parts of speech
There is another reason why this kind of
exercise is critical. You have already explained, months
ago when you first started, about how the student’s
problem is that he is not using the left side of his brain
for processing language, and that is why he is in trouble.
You have stressed that his reading problem has nothing to
do with intelligence. You have often congratulated his left
side for doing something brilliant when it remembers and
uses a spelling rule! You have reminded him that pronouncing
syllables in isolation is not baby stuff, but is a sound-symbol
exercise that only his left side can do, so it gets a lot
of exercise that way. Now you tell him that understanding
parts-of-speech is also strictly a left hemisphere activity,
so doing these exercises gives you another way besides phonics
to give it a shove. And once again, you have implied that
the student is NOT the problem. It is his lazy left side
that needs the poke because it is getting him in trouble.
Always, always, always, remind your student that the fault
is in his left hemisphere, not him.
Or to mangle Shakespeare, “The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars
but in our left hemispheres.” Or something like that.
Teaching Tip: You just read it.