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.
How effective is using English language TV in helping students improve their pronunciation? Well, Reichmuth & Hanf actually did some research and the results are in. How I Met Your Mother!
Another quickie from the last KOTESOL conference.
Keywords: ESL, EFL, TESOL, TEFL, CELTA, DELTA, pronunciation, pronouncing, TV, linguistics, language, second language, teaching, learning, English, Israeli, , bilingual, mulitlingual, cognition,
Plurals are easy, right? There’s one or there’s more than one… pretty straight forward. “All”, “every”, “All the” “each” – that’s pretty simple too, isn’t it? Well, hold on to something sturdy as Eytan Zweig gets you to think a little deeper about how we both form and understand language.
The literal meaning (semantics) and the meaning of the use (pragmatics) of the language is a vital part of how we communicate in real life. So, let’s a show like this is chomping at the bit to dig down into this topic.
Keywords: ESL, EFL, TESOL, TEFL, CELTA, DELTA, pragmatics, semantics, linguistics, language, second language, teaching, learning, English, Israeli, Hebrew, bilingual, mulitlingual, York, University of York, UK, England, cognition, Eytan Zweig,
In the first of this batch of hit-n-run quickie interviews from the KOTESOL conference in Seoul at the end of 2016, I spoke to Justin McKibben about how we can expand students roles. By giving students certain speaking tasks the traditional classroom would consider a teacher’s job, we can vastly increase student talk time and give them a broader sense of control in their own classroom.
Justin takes us through some of the techniques we can use in our classrooms to shift away from the traditional teacher-fronted classroom. You can start using these techniques immediately.
STT, TTT, ESL, EFL, TEFL, TESOL, CELTA, DELTA, teacher-fronted classroom, teaching, English,
In this end-of-year episode, we get the funnier side of teaching English with stories from listeners and future interviewees. Special thanks to Grace, Thomas, Matthew, Jon, Fergal, James, Mierkamil, Oksana, Jacob, Roger, Gordon, and Jake.
We cover accidental phallic drawings, mistranslations, unintended puns, uncontrollable sweating…
If you have a good story, you can be part of a future episode. Record it and send it to email@example.com .
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EFL, ESL, English Teaching, TESOL, TEFL, CELTA, EIL,
I’m making a Christmas episode of the podcast and I need your help. Yes, YOU. The person reading this right now. Don’t look around, I’m talking to you~!
As serious, devoted education professionals, we all love hearing about things going wrong or weird in a lesson, so the end-of-year episode is going to be a collection of funny stories from the classroom. I’ve already recorded a few with the recent interviewees. If you’d like to contribute, I’d love to have your story.
This episode, we start with a little experiment and get more interactive. Let us know what country you thought the music originated in at @MOTcast with the hashtag #motesol . I’ll put up the results on www.mastersoftesol.com
Andrew Ewan MacFarlane is a lecturer at University of York in the Department of Language and Linguistic Science and a sociolinguist. We spent a while flipping back and forth between accents and dialects, reminiscing about Margaret Thatcher, thinking about unobtrusive kiwis and kangaroos, gettin’ daaaan wit da yoof o’ London innit, and playing “Name That [Country of Origin] Tune”.
This was one of my favourite interviews so far and hopefully inspires more than a few listeners to get deeper into the subject.
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Once again, I got lost in the labyrinthian corridors of the University of York Language & Linguistic Science department, this time to speak to Tamar Keren-Portnoy about first language acquisition. There’s a lot of similarities between how we learn our first language and how we acquire our second language, so it’s a useful topic for ESL / EFL / second language teachers.
She gives us insights into such things as how babies develop syntax/grammar norms, why they learn some words earlier than others, how babies are not simply mimicking their caretakers and, through her own research with Rory DePaolis & Marilyn Vihman, how babies learn through listening and the sounds they themselves make.
You may remember Marilyn Vihman from episode 9 of MOT.
Later in the year, I’ll release a mini-episode about the developmental stages of babies.
Key words: baby, babies, acquisition, teaching, learning, babbling, language, babbling, cooing,
This episode, I speak to University of York’s Heather Marsden about the controversial Critical Period hypothesis. This theory suggests that there is a limited age at which we can learn a second language, after which it grows increasingly difficult. Anecdotally, we assume this to be true – kids are sponges for language while older people struggle – but what does the research say about this?
This episode is simply a bite-sized introduction to a much larger topic, so I encourage you to search around for other perspectives on this subject.
Heather Marsden @ University of York
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L1 – first/native language
L2 – second language
input – any exposure to the L2
interference – where the L1 grammar, vocab or pronunciation affects or negatively influences L2 production