In this simulation only one word will be presented. This word will look funny to many readers since it does not seem to make sense. Additionally, the word does not always follow the rules of an English word represented visually in letters. That is, when reading the letters of this word, you will notice that the first two letters are Gh. From your knowledge of reading, you should realize that in English, the Letter G does not have the letter h following it at the beginning of a word. Thus, your first impression may be that this is a word from a foreign language, or this is not a real word, or the word is misspelled with the h added in error.
Your task is to read this word and make sense of it. The rules are that the letters or letter groups represent sounds of speech and not real letters as in a written word. Additionally, the word is a simple word often seen in a childís vocabulary, and often seen in books for early readers. The meaning of the word is very simple and you probably know this word if it were written in the usual, or normally spelled manner. Again, the only clue is that the letters or letter groups represent the sounds of speech as presented in spelling in many English words. The word is:
Give up yet? Canít figure out what common English word this is? Maybe itís because you havenít learned the code. Some of you may know this "trick" word, and you have prior experience seeing it and are able to "translate" what it really says with ease.
Consider a child who lacks experiences in hearing the sounds of speech (phonemes) spoken the way the speaker says them. Imagine a child who has only heard speech spoken with one specific accent? Imagine a child who has limited exposure to different people speaking so that the child expects all speech sounds to sound as spoken by these people in his/her environment? What about a child with a hearing loss who hears sounds differently and, suddenly, is given a hearing aid or other type of system and is expected to understand all of the sounds of speech spoken to him/her? Or consider a child with a history of chronic middle ear infections and fluid (called otitis media) who has a fluctuating hearing loss and then has the middle ear problem resolved and is unable to make sense of the words spoken by people since the auditory code has not been clearly learned?
Well, letís not keep you in suspense. Letís teach you the code. The first two letters go together. These letters are "Gh." They represent the sound made by these letters in words such as laugh. Thus, the first sound of this word would be the sound of /f/ since the "gh" in laugh make the sound of /f/. The next letter is "o." It represents the sound made by the letter "o" in the word women. In that word, the letter "o" has the sound of /i/ as in the word "it." So, we now have the first and second sounds for this word: /f/ /i/.
The last two letters, "ti," represent the sound these letters make in words such as nation. In that word, the "ti" makes the sound of /sh/. Now, letís look at the code and see if you can figure out the real word.
Gh as in laugh is the sound /f/
O as in women is the sound /i/
Ti as in nation is the sound /sh/
Thus, the word is "fish."
Once you realize the word, you may start to see the difficulty a person with an auditory decoding problem at this phoneme level has when the underlying factor accounting for the problem is not knowing the code. Additionally, imagine a child who mishears what is said. This child may also see the word Ghoti and not know that it is really the word "fish." However, in this case, the child would actually see the word fish and not be able to figure out it is the word "fish." Thus, there is a difference between a child who has not learned the code (for whatever reason) vs. the child who mishears the code and confuses or mixes up the sounds he/she hears. Letís look at the next simulation to better understand the child with an auditory decoding problem at the speech sound discrimination level.
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