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Help! Need tricks for teaching short e versus short i sound

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#1 khope1


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Posted 21 February 2008 - 11:40 AM

My daughter is beginning to read and can read the short i sound fine when given words like pig and bit. But then we started teaching the short e sound and now when given a word like bet, she pronounces it bit. No matter what I tell her and go over it and over it, it always comes out of her mouth as a short i sound instead of eeehhhh for short e. The only thing that seems to work is I told her that when she sees an e, to think of an egg, and then she says it correctly, but that was a long time ago, and I have to keep going over it and over it with her. I figured that she would have caught on by now. Does anyone have any tricks to help? Thanks in advance.

#2 Closeacademy


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Posted 21 February 2008 - 12:10 PM

I like the leap pad video for this. It does a good job with the sounds and gives you ideas on how to physically act them out.

For short e, I cup my ear and say "e." Like I am deaf or something.

For short i, I shiver like something is icky.


#3 Lisa in SC

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Posted 21 February 2008 - 12:16 PM

I've always used the "eh??" accompanied by ear cupping for short e just as the PP suggested. However, I'm convinced that some people are just not capable of hearing the difference -- particularly in certain words. My dh can't hear the difference between "pin" and "pen" nor can he pronounce the words differently. They both sound like "pin." He takes the good-natured teasing with excellent humor. I just think it's interesting that what is so apparent to some is indistinguishable (is that a word?) to others.


#4 8FillTheHeart


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Posted 21 February 2008 - 12:47 PM

One idea might be to create lists of words and show how the words totally change meaning with the /i/ vs /e/ sound. Put them side by side.

bit bet
miss mess
bill bell

If she starts to understand the reason why she needs to pay attention, she might make herself focus more. (btw, I do this with multiple vowel sounds, not just i and e......we do the whole bag, beg, big, bog, bug thing. :) )

#5 Claire


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Posted 21 February 2008 - 01:26 PM

Have her test the sound with her fingertip. With short e, she can get her fingertip past her teeth. Point out that "e" has an open mouth. (With short i, you can't get a fingertip past your teeth.) When she comes to "bet" when reading and says "bit", have her test the sound with her fingertip.

#6 FlockOfSillies


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Posted 21 February 2008 - 01:30 PM

When I taught this to my dc, I made them smile when they said "eh" and crinkle their noses (which lifts the upper lip) when they said "ih" as in "icky". I told them to think of something stinky to help them remember to crinkle their noses.


#7 claire at home

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Posted 21 February 2008 - 02:17 PM

I agree with posters using the cupping ear method for eh??? ala Leappad. I am not too keen on videos personally, but this video was given to us by a relative and we gave in one rainy, boring day and just like that she got it.
Just so you know you are not alone. I read somewhere that the short e sound is the hardest of all sounds to get.

#8 Staci in MO

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Posted 21 February 2008 - 02:22 PM

But if you move to this part of the country, she'll fit right in.

I had a hard time teaching this sound to my dc because most of the time we say it incorrectly. "Pen" is "pin," "hen" is "hin," etc. :o

My kids know there's *supposed* to be a difference between the sounds, but they still retain their Missouri accents. Don't know if that will make you feel better or not.

Keep on reminding her. I'm sure she'll get it sorted out in time.

#9 yslek


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Posted 21 February 2008 - 02:47 PM

No advice for learning to pronounce these differently, but sympathy. :D My dh can't tell the difference beteween these sound, and it drives me crazy! (Unlike some pps, though, he pronounces both "pin" and "pen" like "pen". Actually, I think the sound is kind of a blend between the short "i" and short "e" sounds. I'm taking a "History of the English Language" class through the U. of WI and it mentioned in the book that in some regions these sounds have blended into one.)


#10 Robin Hood

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Posted 21 February 2008 - 03:49 PM

My 9yo is an excellent reader, but still can't tell them apart. When she tries to sound out a word, she becomes easily confused and I am pretty bad a pressing a point. She just can't do it. Don't give up but don't be discouraged either.

#11 Eliana


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Posted 21 February 2008 - 07:18 PM

We act out the 'e for exercise' and 'i for itchy' from Phonics Pathways. I find it helps to do movements or gestures which are easy to associate with the shape, or some feature, of the letter. The dot on the 'i' is like the tip of your finger as you reach over a tickle a child while chanting 'i for itchy'. There are several different ways we've associated the 'e' with exercise, but none of them are easily describable....

This works well with Hebrew vowels too - if anyone needs those associations, I'd be happy to share.


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