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Oct 18, 2006

Literacy is Unlocking the Code

I was encouraged by a small group of girls, who after a limited amount of tuition from me on the Burunge letters of the alphabet were able to read aloud to me from their newly dedicated copies of Jonah!

All I did was give them the key to the code. If you already know your language as you speak it every day, but then are asked to read your language, where do you start? How do you identify words on the page when you have only ever spoken them? There is nothing about the letters themselves to tell you how to pronounce them. What makes the letter ‘b' a ‘b' sound and not a ‘p' sound? There is nothing in the letter itself, it is just that that is how someone decided to represent that sound in writing. The girls already knew how to read in Swahili, so the writing was not completely foreign to them, but Burunge has many sounds, which are different to those found in Swahili. These sounds are represented by the following symbols: q, qw, ', /, c, tl, sl.

By showing the girls which letter represented which sound they were able to access the code to reading Burunge.

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