Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Teaching English pronunciation to a mute girl

by Charles Roring

Today I have an interesting experience. I have a loyal customer who always visit my bookstore every day. She is a beautiful Chinese girl. She is 14 years old, but has just reached sixth grade of elementary school. Her shool is located some two hundred meters behind my house.
A fourteen year old girl in sixth grade elementary school? No, kidding! Yeah, that's true. She has hearing problems. Her parents sent her to a special school which was suitable for her in Jakarta. She was then returned to study in normal school, sitting and studying side by side with other normal students. I think it is not easy for her but she manage it quite well. Although she is mute, she is quite smart in her classroom.
Today, when we were talking about things related to comics, which is her interest, I told her to study computer graphics design. She said, she doesn't know how to use a computer. Manokwari, the town where I live, is only a small town. Students begin to study computers in high school. Only those who are from wealthy family that can buy a computer. Her family is rich enough to buy one but perhaps her parents think that this is not the right time for her to have her own laptop. No, problem.
She likes to visit my wife who is in the kitchen in the afternoons cooking our lunch.
Well, her name is Cindy. Today, I told her to study English verbally, not using sign languages.
I said, "Cindy, why don't you study English?"
She replied, "It's difficult. I can't study English, or Mandarin. I only speak Indonesian."
"If you really want to study, you'll be able to do it."
After talking with her for some minutes, I began to teach her about the difference between I and me.
I have to write the two sentences to point the positions of these personal pronouns.
  • I have a book.
  • The book is given to me.
As she could not read the letter a (ə) book properly, she say it "ei." I have to write the word enam (meaning six in Indonesian language) and point and underline the letter e which has similar pronunciation to ə in a book.
She also could not read the word me properly. I have to read the above sentences word by word to help her with this little English lesson. Fortunately, she managed to improve her pronunciation before her father picked her up.
I think tomorrow, she will come again to study more about English.
This is one of my interesting experiences during the workdays in my bookstore, xavier.

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