Materials

How can learners FEEL pronunciation?

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Vowels are the most difficult of the phonemes to teach. Consonants generally don’t differ that much between language and, crucially, consonants have things touch – tongue between the teeth, bottom lip on the teeth etc – which makes it easier to describe to students. Vowels on the other hand have anything in the mouth making contact with another part. This makes it difficult to explain to students. Of course, we have the classic ‘mouth map’ that we can show students but that seems quite academic.

Students get a much better sense of where vowel sounds are produced using the colour chart attached below. Having two words that students can practice gives them double the chance to FEEL where the sounds are produced. The left side is the front of the mouth, the right is the back of the throat.

However, even when practicing, students are frequently sat closer to their partner, speaking softly. This is not good for FEELING where a vowel is being produced. For that, we need VOLUME.

Solution 1: separating out the students. Get them at opposite ends of the classroom having to speak to their partners. The extra volume necessary helps them to concentrate on where the sound is coming from, using the colour chart.

Solution 2: if you don’t have space – play music. The extra volume will force the students to speak up.

A loud classroom is a productive classroom.

The colour chart is not mine, so I’ve put the source on the bottom of the chart.Colour vowel chart image

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Adele Listening Activity – (Intermediate and above)

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Time: 50 minutes

This listening activity uses “Someone Like You” as a listening activity. There are TWO aspects to this.

  1. The verses and the bridge are fill-in-the-gaps
  2. The choruses are “correct the wrong words” activity. Some of the words on the student sheet are incorrect and students need to listen closely to find which.

Followed by the questions and activities from the lesson plan.

Click the link below for the lesson plan and answer sheet.

Adele Lyrics Gap and Guess

 

Would you rather…? Ice Breaker – (Upper Intermediate / Advanced)

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Time: 10+ minutes

A fun ice breaker using “Would you rather A or B?”. It’s deliberately silly and the classes have had loads of fun with it over the years. It needs to be set up and demonstrated along with giving some rules (I.E., you MUST choose one option / if the choice is “completely bald” then they are not allowed to ‘get hair implants’ later! / and so on).

Partners (A & B) have different questions. Students can start to expand it and add their own questions.

FOR SOME MORE CONSERVATIVE TEACHING CULTURES, SOME OF THE QUESTIONS MAY BE ON THE EDGY SIDE.

Click the link below.

Would you rather A B

Movie Music Activity – (Intermediate & Advanced)

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Time: 60 mins +

This lesson plan uses incidental movie music to activate students’ schema to write a movie scene (Intermediate) or a movie plot (Advanced). This can be adapted to your learning goals (focus on vivid language/adjective/action words/dialogue/tenses) and the level of your learners. Ideal for students that are creative or are getting bored of the usual ESL classes.

Click the link below for the lesson.

Movie Music Story Lesson Plan

“Can you…?” Ice Breaker – (Most Levels)

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Here’s a fun ice breaker that works for most proficiency levels. I’ve used this for years and it has never failed.

You’ll notice there’s some unusual language (for the classroom, at least) in there – “wheelie”, “impression”, “party trick” and so on – that can provoke some interactive problem solving between partners. Also, they are unlikely to have answered these questions in an English class before so I’ve found that the students are more lively and engaged than the usual “What’s your favourite…?” ice breakers.

For lower proficiency levels: By definition, all the questions have Yes/No answers, so for lower levels, it’s a good idea to go through some conversation strategies. It helps prevent them blowing through it in 2 minutes just answering “yes” or “no”. Positive answers need an example. For negative answers, they can “explain why not”, “tell a related story”, or “tell a friend or relative’s story”. I get one student to ask me a question so I can demonstrate the answers.

THERE IS ONE QUESTION SPECIFIC TO SOUTH KOREA (where I teach) BUT YOU CAN USE THIS AS A SPRINGBOARD TO YOUR LOCATION’S ANTHEM.

Click the link below to download.

Can you Partner Questions