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.
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,
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To a monolingual, being bilingual or multilingual seems magical. More than one language in one head – no one can live at that speed! As a result, some unusual misconceptions have grown around linguistic phenomena that, globally, is far more common than speaking a single language.
Marilyin Vihman has significant experience in bilingualism both personally and academically. In this episode, recorded in her office at the University of York, we look at some of the myths about bilingual development and which are outright wrong and which lean closer to the truth than others.
The myths we bust – or, in some cases, bruise – are:
- Bilinguals are two monolinguals in one head
- Bilinguals start to speak later than monolinguals
- Babies soak up languages like sponges
- Some languages are more primitive than others, so are easier to learn
- English is widely spoken (as a second language) because it has less grammar
- Parents pass on mistakes and non-native accents to their children
- There’s one right way to raise a bilingual child
(Adapted from Pearson (2008))