One of the issues ESL learners of all ages have is identifying the difference between the phonics of an English word and spelling of that word. Unlike other languages, such as Mandarin or Vietnamese, letters in English can make multiple sounds. This can be especially confusing for students whose native language has one letter or symbol that always corresponds to one sound.
Take the “ed” at the end of regular past tense verbs. Most students at intermediate level or below assume that the “ed” is always going to make a /d/ sound, however this is not the case. Fortunately, this is a case where the rules of English always hold true. Unfortunately, unlike native speakers, who can intuitively choose the correct ending sound for all regular past tense verbs, ESL learners will need to work hard to memorize when to use which sound until they are able to read with a high level of fluency.
The sound the “ed” makes is based on the sound of the letter or letters directly preceding the “ed”. Words with the letter t or letter d preceding the “ed” will make an /id/ sound.
Here are some examples of words which have an /id/ sound:
Letters that make voiceless sounds such as p, k, f and the digraphs sh and ch preceding the “ed” make a /t/ sound.
Here are some examples of words which have a /t/ sound:
Finally, letters that are voiced in the larynx such as m and n preceding the “ed” make the expected /d/ sound.
Here are some examples of words which have a /d/ sound:
Learning to read English words correctly on sight can be challenging and takes a lot of work, but it is a necessary skill needed to develop real fluency. Give your child a heads up having them study in a centre that values building real fluency in our students over anything else!