Phonics and Me Are Not Friends – My Adventures with the word, Pruebar

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Today, Duolingo asked me to type this sentence when prompted by its computer synthesizer saying it.

La mujer prueba el arroz.

I’d typed all of the words correctly except “prueba”.  I don’t know that word.  I did remember that I was trying to spell the word for “taste”  but I don’t know the word yet.  So, instead of checking my Spanish dictionary (which, in the future, is probably the better tactic for me.), I decided to sound it out.

So, I pulled out my trusty Spanish Vowel Pronunciation Card <I shall insert a picture here of it, later today.  until then, just check my previous post>

I figured out that the first vowel sounded like “oo” therefore a “u”, but I hadn’t figured out the diphthong.  That will come with time.

But, the last vowel sound was the trouble maker.  My brain was absolutely convinced that the last sound was “eh”, so that makes the letter be “e”.   NO.

So, that’s my problem with learning a foreign language.  Essentially, I do not distinguish the “a” sound from the “e” sound.  It’s like having red-green color blindness.  I’m several decades old, so this isn’t going to fix over night.  But, what’s cool is that I do know how I learn.

I will learn how to spell and pronounce “probar”.  But, first step will be spelling it, or, in other words, being able to see it.  Also, it’s really cool that I was able to map the meaning of the word to its sound and context.  I’m halfway there.

Practicing or drilling the /a/ sound vs. /e/ sound is torture for me.  Yes, it will help, but it is SLLLLOOOOOWWWW for me.

The goal is to learn the word, “probar”.  I will be able to hear and understand that word by spelling it a lot faster than practicing the sounds that make it up.

By the way “probar” means “to try” (to prove).  In this context it means “to taste”.

Also, by writing up this post, I’ve hopefully drilled the appearance of the word probar into my brain.


DISCLAIMER – If I hadn’t been taught phonics way back when, I might never have learned to read.  Essentially, the average student figures out phonics on their own, but I can’t.  So if I hadn’t been taught phonics, I may never  have figured out the code for reading.  This does not mean that I LIKE phonics.  I recognize Phonics’ value, but I will always hate it, because it’s difficult.


Color Coding Foreign Language Learning is a Synonym for Learning Disability

Go ahead.  Type “Color Coding Foreign Language Learning” into the Google Search window.

Yip, almost every single result pertains to teaching a foreign language to the learning disabled.  So, since I was interested in color coding my Spanish notes, does that make me learning disabled.  ummmm.   Well…. Yeah, I’m learning disabled, but geez.  Very interesting what Google can teach you unintentionally.

Anyways, I was trying to find a consistent system for color coding my Spanish notes.  I figured that someone out there must have done this before.  

From what I can tell, yes, the experts know that color coding notes is very helpful for visual learners, but there isn’t a standard for color coding..

But, why would I be interested in a standard for color coding.  I have two reasons.  One, I’ve noticed that various Spanish teaching methods color code their material, i.e. Duolingo color codes the various parts of speech, and I wanted to color code my notes consistently so that I could avoid confusion.  Second, I figured that an expert ,may have figured out a better way of color coding that would enhance my learning and I didn’t want to waste my time using an inferior method.

And, as I’ve said, there is NO standard.  There’s some encouragement to use blue ink for masculine and red/pink ink for feminine.  I’ve also seen orange for masculine and purple for feminine, but I’m thinking that’s an avoidance of typical  female social stereotyping as pink and frilly.

Duolingo color codes various parts of speech.  But, Duolingo uses shades of colors, i.e. light blue and dark blue, and Duolingo only uses the color code to color sections of their learning tree not actual words.  I am not a fan of shades of colors for color coding so for now,  I’m testing out my own color codes.  Essentially, it appears that the experts believe that color coding is helpful and that the particular colors don’t really matter.  And, that makes sense.  It’s just that I use so many different sources for my learning that I was trying to create some consistency.

Anyways, I plan to post a follow-up with a review of my color coding system.  

And, I would love to hear from others, whether they color code their notes and how it works or doesn’t work for them.