Stories are really important because they create an emotional bond with children. A sound like >TH< should be “noticed” before it is acquired. Since in River-Plate (Argentine) Spanish, >TH< is not found. If teachers were to describe all the procedure to young learners, this procedure would simply be forgotten, as meta-language cannot be used with children. A memorable story —whose conflict solution includes the acquisition of the articulation of the new sound— may be the scaffold needed.
Teachers need to create a magical learning environment, with perfect scaffolds to introduce the sounds that may change articulatory habits (Palavecino, 2021).
‘Th Th Thumkie’ (Palavecino, 2022) is an illustrative story that provides the right scaffolding, and the song suggested in the story an opportunity for practice, going well beyond the time-honoured listen-and-repeat procedure. Children will remember that Thumkie puts his tongue out, and that it is naughty. They will sympathise with the character, knowing they are not supposed do this. Children later discover that Thumkie needs to put his tongue out to say his name and call out to his friends (words containing this sound). This is not naughty and makes Thumkie and the children happy.
EFL Phonics Stories
By Prof. & Lic. Stella Palavecino, M.A.
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