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.
Time: 50 minutes
This listening activity uses “Someone Like You” as a listening activity. There are TWO aspects to this.
- The verses and the bridge are fill-in-the-gaps
- 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.
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.
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.