This is another short video from our TikTok channel, this time we’re looking at the pronunciation of three words that Spanish speakers really tend to struggle with: bear, beer & bird. If you enjoy this video, come join us on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter:
This is the second in a series of posts documenting a mini research project I’m doing with a group of C1/C2 students to see how effective explicit pronunciation instruction activities can be. If you haven’t already, please read the first post to get a better idea of the methods I’m using. Download the slides and handout for this second mini lesson plan below:
Full credit to Mark Hancock for the excellent -ed endings maze, you can get it and many more from this excellent website he runs together with Annie McDonald. You can also get loads more great materials from his Instagram page. If you get the chance to attend one of his seminars/webinars, go for it, loads of great ideas.
This particular lesson plan focuses on -ed endings of regular verbs and consonant to vowel linking in phrasal verbs. If you’re following along with the project with your students, please let me know how it’s going in the comments.
This is the first of a series of blog posts I plan to write on a little pronunciation project I’m going to run with a C1/C2 group of Catalan/Spanish speaking students. If you’d like to try to run the same experiment with your own groups, you can download the materials I’m going to use at the bottom of this post.
How much can high-level students’ spoken pronunciation be improved by explicit focus on connected speech during class time? The plan is to use both reactive teaching/error correction and explicit, mini-lessons on specific elements of connected speech to work on students’ spoken output. Their progress will then be tracked through the use of submitted voice recordings.
In order to gauge students current level of spoken pronunciation, I wrote a text, which you’ll find below, that contains many elements of connected speech:
I have always wanted to play in a rock and roll band but I can’t seem to find the time to practice enough. If you don’t put in the hours, you’re always going to put off fulfilling an ambition. I want to do it, but the harder I try to pick up the guitar, the busier I get, and at the weekends I tend to go out most nights and those dreams are left back in the corner gathering dust with my guitar.
In class today I collected their baseline recordings. They completed a simple comprehension task on the text, then each recorded themselves reading the text on their own mobile phones and sent me the resulting audio file.
I will also have them record themselves completing a Cambridge “long turn” task during the next class in order to gather a non-scripted sample of their spoken output.
The pronunciation work students will complete will take a number of forms:
Explicit teaching of sentence stress, weak forms, and other elements of connected speech.
Use of tubequizard.com in their free time as ear-training/decoding.
Exposure to a “model” version of the target text, read by me, for students to compare/mimic.
The idea is to spend 15-20 mins a week explicitly focusing on pronunciation and then have students rerecord the original “Dusty Dreams” text in 6-8 weeks and compare the second recording to their original. I will also periodically collect long turn attempts to track the progress of more spontaneous/authentic speech. I also plan to use other texts or dialogue transcripts for later recordings as well as tracking students’ scores on C2 Proficiency reading comprehension tasks.
This is my first real attempt at action research, I’m probably doing a bunch of stuff wrong, but it’s exciting and my students seem to be up to the challenge! I’ll keep you posted.
If you’d like to follow along with your own students, you can download the first lesson plan, with the baseline text and a micro-lesson on weak forms of “to” and “for”, below:
This is another guest post by Alice at https://www.hottakeenglish.com/ on the topic of limericks. Students learn the rhyme and syllable structure of a limerick, then write their own. Download the student handout and teacher’s notes below:
Check out this great lesson plan from Sandy Millin on advanced pronunciation. Students are introduced to different forms of connected speech and put it into practice by transcribing part of a listening text.
Before you use these materials… We’ve created a new podcast aimed at B2+ level English students and teachers alike. You can listen for free at our SoundCloud page below. You can download teacher’s notes to accompany them from our Facebook page or from this blog. All comments and feedback welcome! Give us a like and a share 😉
As the title suggests the focus is on using the conditionals in conversation so start out by telling the class that you don’t want them to write anything down except the bare conditional structure for reference.
Tell them they are going to explore parallel universes in which they made different choices in their lives.
The exercise presents the students with different topics designed to generate past conditional sentences but also conversation. Explain that you don’t just want them to form 1 past conditional sentence from each point, they should explore each point fully in small groups and try to use the structure in a variety of ways: affirmative /negative / interrogative.
“If I hadn’t gone to the party, I wouldn’t have met my girlfriend because she was only in town for one night.”
“Do you think you would have had the chance to meet her again?”
“It’s possible, but maybe I would have met someone else.”
Note on pronunciation
For higher levels depending on how well they use the structure you can encourage them to use the weak forms:
Woulda / would’ve / wouldn’t ‘ve
If they have trouble with this start out with the contracted “had” in the if clause and slowly introduce the other forms.
If I hadn’t gone to the party, I wouldn’t have met my girlfriend. (past result)
Maybe we wouldn’t be together now. (present result)
If I hadn’t studied drama, I probably would have studied literature.
If I had studied business, I would have got a job in an insurance company
I could have
Explain difference between would have and could have
would have = what definitely happened in this parallel universe
could have = what possibilities were available in the parallel universe
If + had/n’t + past participle + would / could + have + past participle.
What did you study at school / university? What other options did you have? Explain them to your group.
Do you remember the interview for your job? What would have happened if you hadn’t got it?
If you have a partner how did you meet? How could things have happened differently?
Think of an important exam you passed or failed in the past, how could things have happened differently?
What would you have done this week if you’d had more time? Why?
What would you have done last year if you’d had more money?
Think of a time when someone helped you with something, what would you have done without their help?
Think of a time when you helped someone, what would they have done without your help?
Think of a time when you had an accident, how could things have happened differently?
Think of a time when you or someone you know was in danger, how could things have happened differently?
Think of big decisions you have made in your life related to work / studying / family, how could things have happened differently? How could things be different now?
Tell students to put one hand on their throat and talk so that they can feel their vocal cords vibrating. Then tell the students to start saying some of the regular verbs from the list in their BASE FORM for example: watch, arrive.
Ask them to keep saying “watch” and “arrive” and think about the difference in vocal cord vibrations between the two.
If they don’t notice it explain to them that “watch” finishes with a voiceless sound (no vocal cords, just sound made with the mouth) verbs that finish with a voiceless sound (the handout lists the different spellings of these verbs) have a particular pronunciation in the past simple; a “t” sound: watched (watcht)
“arrive” however, ends in a voiced sound (using the vocal cords to make the “v” sound) so it’s pronunciation is different; a “d” sound: arrived
The difference between these two sounds can be difficult for students and needs a lot of practice. Especially in Spain it can take an eternity to iron out the “Edd” sound caused by Spanish speakers reading English phonetically, as they do their own language. Yesterday I play-ED football and watch-ED TV. So it takes frequent practice. Take special care to practice the pronunciation in a complete sentence on not focus on individual words; students can say “watcht watcht watcht watcht watcht, yesterday I watch-ED TV.”
The last group is easier to grasp; words ending in “d” or “t” have the sound “id” in the past simple: needed (need-ID). Though you are guaranteed to have a classroom full of students clutching their throats saying “wait, need, want” trying to work out if it should be a “t” or a “d” sound so it’s better to put them out of their misery early, maybe it’s better to explain the 3rd group first.