The most frequently asked question about Sound Literacy is, “Why aren’t the sounds of the phonemes modeled in the app?”
To which I always respond, “But which dialect do you want modeled? Should the app model American, Canadian, British, or Australian phonemes?” To date, Sound Literacy has been purchased in 13 different countries; I wonder how many different dialects of English that represents. Hmm…Just consider for a moment how many different dialects are found in the United States alone.
A phoneme, by definition, cannot be embodied in one modeled demonstration, because its pronunciation varies from dialect to dialect. I can tell you for sure that the way I pronounce English phonemes is very different from the way my Australian friend Lyndal does, and yet we understand each other perfectly.
And, despite our different pronunciations, Lyndal and I spell most of our words in the same way. For example, we both use the spelling “c-a-r” for <car>, even though I pronounce the /r/ whereas Lyndal, like my friends in Boston, does not.
I had hoped that users of this app would realize the need to model the phonemes in a way that matches the way they and their students speak. After all, even my own students speak a range of dialects. However, given the name of the app, Sound Literacy, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the request to have the phonemes “speak”. Add in the fact that this app is advertised as one that helps you teach phonological awareness, and I can understand why so many have been confused, and even disappointed, when the phonemes are not modeled.
We, the Sound Literacy team, have not turned a deaf ear to this request, but rather, have considered the best way to solve the dilemma that phoneme modeling represents to us. We have been working on a feature that will be coming soon. It will allow you to make audio recordings of the phonemes to attach to the squares on the sound maps. I have also considered changing the name to “phoneme maps”.
In my next post, I will tell you how our team came up with the name Sound Literacy. It represents a double entendre that we definitely intended.