Thursday, 4 June 2015

Linking Sounds Board Game

I love resource books with photocopiable activities; they provide fun and engaging activities to practise a language focus or skill. You can take a break from the course book and get the learners talking, moving and thinking. There are so many available on the market for grammar, vocabulary, speaking and role plays. But, there aren't that many for pronunciation. Mark Hancock's Pronunciation Games is probably the one that is in most teachers' rooms and most well known. To fill this gap, we need to develop our own resources that we can keep and use again and again. It can be time consuming, but it's worth it in the long run.

Although in recent posts I've been promoting including little snippets of pronunciation during vocabulary and grammar lessons, I do believe there is room for longer practise activities. Kelly (2001) mentions that there are three types of pronunciation teaching:
1) integrated
2) remedial
3) practice

In this post, I'm sharing a board game that I've put together to practise linking sounds in connected speech. It is aimed at C1 level learners and focuses on giving opinions and having discussions. I would recommend using the game as a way to revise linking sounds. So, you will need to have introduced the idea of linking /j/, /w/, /r/, and consonant to vowels in previous lessons.

Click below to download the game:

Board game and instructions
Question cards

If you try out the game with your learners, I would appreciate any feedback on improvements that could be made or on whether or not it was successful.

Kelly, G. (2001) How To Teach Pronunciation. Pearson

Friday, 1 May 2015

Pronunciation Snippet: Disappearing sounds in expressions

One thing we often forget to do when dealing with new lexical items in class is to let our learners know what this language is going to sounds like in a natural setting.

While looking through a course book recently, I came across a vocabulary activity in the post-reading stage of a lesson. I thought to myself, "these are lovely expressions to teach, but I bet they sound very different to how they look on the page." So how could we integrate some pronunciation into this to give our learners a chance a recognising? Very simply!

In the course book they have gone through the meaning and use of the phrases, so I won't describe these steps here. I have also written my own sentences and added a few extra expressions.

The steps below are to demonstrate how easily we can integrate pronunciation, but for those who are not confident enough yet, please feel free to download the worksheet and notes below to use in class.


1. Ask the learners to think about how these expressions might sound when spoken in the sentences.

2. Play the recording and ask them to check their predictions.

3. Write the expressions on the board and mark the features that might occur when spoken naturally.

4. Listen to expressions in isolation. You could go through step 3 and 4 for each expression individually.

5. Listen to some new sentences and ask the learners to fill in the blanks with the correct expression.

Select here for the student worksheet

Select here for the teacher's notes.

You can do steps 1 to 3 any time you introduce expressions in your lessons. You don't have to make a recording, you just simply say the expressions yourself naturally. With practice, this can become a regular feature of your teaching whether you are working with one expressions or many.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Pronunciation Snippet: Understanding Colloquialisms

My husband has recently started his first job here in Ireland. He could really write a book about the language-related situations he's experienced in his first few months. For an ELT practitioner, his encounters give quite an insight to how complex language learning can be once you've left the safety of the classroom. Not only does my husband have to become accustomed to a new job, but new language, both technical and colloquial, with the colloquial coming from various parts of the country, meaning very different accents. Of course, it got me thinking that we need to bring more of these types of encounters into the classroom to prepare our learners for the use of English in a professional environment. This can apply to ELF (English as a Lingua Franca) contexts too, where many of the employees speak English as a second Language.

Here is a short activity using some of the more colloquial phrases that my husband encountered. You can apply the same steps to any selection of phrases. You could ask your learners about ones they've heard, you can choose some from an authentic audio or video recording, or maybe choose some vocabulary items from the lesson in your course book that you think will be challenging for learners to understand if heard outside the classroom.

What you need: A set of phrases that are used in a certain context, a synonym or explanation of these phrases on a small hand out or written on the board. For this example, I have provided hand outs for which you can find the links below.

  • Give the learners a copy of the phrases and explanations mixed up. Ask them to match the phrases to the correct explanations.
  • Play the recording and ask the learners to match the phrases 1-5 on the audio to the phrases a-e on the page.

  • Break down the pronunciation of each phrase. Start in citation form, then go through the features of connected speech, and then go through the jungle pronunciation, as Richard Cauldwell calls it. (See this post
            Select to view breakdown of forms.
  • Give the learners the short dialogues and ask them to put the phrases into the correct dialogue.
  • Students practise saying the dialogues a few times. They don't have to say the phrases in the jungle form as they heard in the audio, this is just to give them practise of recognising the context that these phrases are in. Alternatively, you could read out one line of the dialogue and they all have to say the response together as a whole class, or do this in pairs.
           Select to view the hand out for the activities.
           Select to view the hand out with answers.