Posted in Action Research, Pronunciation Classes

Action Research: Pronunciation Project #2

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.

Posted in Action Research, Listening Classes, Pronunciation Classes

Action Research: Pronunciation Project

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.

Question

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.

Baseline Level

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:

Dusty Dreams

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.

Pronunciation Development

The pronunciation work students will complete will take a number of forms:

  1. Explicit teaching of sentence stress, weak forms, and other elements of connected speech.
  2. Use of tubequizard.com in their free time as ear-training/decoding.
  3. Exposure to a “model” version of the target text, read by me, for students to compare/mimic.
  4. Activities and worksheets such as Mark Hancock and Annie McDonald’s mazes.
  5. Reactive hot and cold error correction.

Tracking Development

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:

Feel free to comment or give advice!

Posted in Listening Classes

Listening: I got double-scammed!

Image Credit: blogs.thisismoney.co.uk

Follow me on twitter @RobbioDobbio

This is a listening lesson for high B1+. I designed this lesson for my DELTA receptive skills assessed class. It’s based around a listening text from Speak Out Upper-Intermediate (Pearson), in which a woman describes how she had her bag stolen while sitting in a café. I chose this text because this type of crime is an extremely common occurence here in Barcelona.

Below you can download the lesson procedure, students’ and teachers’ handout, an annotated version of the transcript and the listening file.

Lesson Procedure 

Lisas bad day student handout 

Lisas bad day Teacher’s copy

Audio file

annotated transcript lisa0001

The most important thing to bear in mind is that this is a class which focuses on developing students’ listening skills rather than simply testing their comprehension of a text so feel free to replay sections of the text as many times as it takes for them to get the message.

It’s important to follow the steps as laid out in the procedure. The pre-listening tasks, in which students make predictions about what will happen next, aid students in their comprehension as they are given the opportunity to apply their own knowledge and experience to the text.

After listening the language focus section on connected speech will help students to identify and decipher fast connetced speech, for example, the pronunciation of past modals “can’t/must/might have”. I’m currently working on my grammar assessment class in which I will come back to past modals of speculation. It should make a good follow-up class to this one so watch this space.