phonology

Pronunciation articles for DipTESOL students

I’m trying to persuade our DipTESOL students to engage with some pronunciation-related research. I’ve hand-picked these five articles for their relevance to our context (well, the last one is more general), and I’ll be sharing them with our candidates this week. Thought I’d chuck them on the blog as well, as others might be interested in them. I’ve left in the reasons why I’ve chosen them for the candidates here – you might find they connect similarly to your own context.

Darcy (2018)Powerful and effective pronunciation instruction: how can we achieve it?

This offers a nice summary on teacher attitudes to teaching pronunciation (14 respondents, teaching an intensive program at Indiana University). Check out the section ‘What’s holding teachers back?’ for some interesting opinions on the value of pronunciation instruction –are these true in your own context? Also, skip to page 30 to view the ‘central aspects of a pronunciation curriculum’ – would you agree with these?

Relevance to our context: the article highlights a mismatch between how much teachers feel that learners value pronunciation (a lot) yet how much they teach it (a little). We have pronunciation stages in every lesson – do you value these, and do you think the learners do?

Thompson (1995)Intonation on question forms

Thompson provides evidence from small scale research suggesting that intonation forms for questions vary depending on communicative intention. There is a tendency for teachers and teaching materials to simplify/generalise pronunciation rules to make certain pronunciation points “teachable’’. Thompson highlights that such generalisations are unreliable, and suggests an alternative approach.

Relevance to our context: there are 12 lessons in our pre-intermediate syllabus that teach intonation patterns for questions. Each opts for the general rule of falling intonation for Wh- questions and rising for YES/NO questions. Have you ever thought that this pattern seems a bit… contrived? (more…)

DipTESOL review quizzes on Sporcle

Apps like Quizlet are full of good study sets for the DipTESOL course. Check out what’s on offer by clicking here (including a list by Martin Cooke, who I know reads this blog).

Rather than add more to this, I thought I’d try a more (solely) game-based site. After all, there’s no harm in making revision fun! I’ve set about making some random Sporcle quizzes for DipTESOL trainees. Here are the links to what I’ve done so far – it’s a work in progress so I’ll keep adding if people find them useful.

Phonemic chart: where are the sounds?

Can you select the correct location for each phoneme in Underhill’s phonemic chart

Phonemic chart sound ID

Can you choose the one sound in the phonemic chart that appears in each word listed? (note: based on RP)

Where on the phonemic chart?

Can you pick the correct phoneme(s) on the chart based on the description?

Phonemic transcription ID BLITZ

Can you type the correct word based on its phonemic transcription? All transcriptions have been taken from phonemicchart.com and are based on words in isolation (UK English). A Blitz quiz on Sporcle is very quick – you only have 3 minutes to complete this one…

Clickable diphthong challenge

Can you select the words which include each diphthong? All answers based on RP

DipTESOL phonology terms MINEFIELD

Can you match the phonology term to the correct definition? BEWARE! Minefield quizzes mean one wrong answer and it’s game over!

Enjoy, and let me know if you want any more!

p.s.

Just for fun, here is the first Sporcle quiz I made…

English Language Teaching: books and their authors

Can you match the English language teaching books to the correct author(s)?

Dip Tip: Phonology review quiz on PlayBuzz

I’ve had a few emails from people studying the DipTESOL saying that my old review quizzes have disappeared! Turns out that Qzzr is now a ‘paid for’ site. Boooo!

I’ve been working on alternatives. Here is a phonology review quiz I’ve made using PlayBuzz. Actually, the questions are copyright Marks and Bowen (2012), I’ve just chucked them in a more interesting format 🙂

Click here to try the quiz!

(note: I only tried PlayBuzz after Svetlana at ELT-cation adapted one of my own posts into a PlayBuzz quiz… see here for that post.

Dip Tips: Phonology and you

I sometimes hear from DipTESOL trainees who are finding it hard to get to grips with phonology. Common problems include:

  • Arrgh! I just don’t know where to start with it? What should I learn about first?
  • It’s not the learning about phonology, it’s how to integrate it

A good way to approach either of these points is with a bit of reflection.

I did my Dip with TLI Europe, who were really good. Before we started the module(s) on phonology, our tutor sent us a few diagnostic/reflection questions. These helped us understand more about our current practice in this area, the needs of our learners, our attitudes to teaching pronunciation and our areas for development.

If you are mentoring a trainee I recommend going through some of these questions with them. These are mainly exploratory and designed to prompt discussion.

If you are a trainee then feel free to respond to any questions in the comments and I’ll offer some advice if needed/if I can! (more…)

Acoustic blur, soundshapes, speech streams

I’ve been thinking about an interaction I had in class last week. I’ve transcribed it roughly below. For a bit of context, the language point was going to for future plans, and the language had been presented through a listening. This was a controlled practice stage.

Here’s how things played out (well, with real student names obviously!)…

Student A : (quite slowly) What are you going to do after class?

Student B : (quite carefully) I’m going to meet my friends

Me: OK, cool. That’s fine…. *thinks*. OK, Student A – woye.gunne.doowaf.teclass?

Student A: Er…I’m going to eat

Me: weye.gunneet?

Student A: Sorry?

Me: weye.gunneet?

Student A: I don’t… understand

Me: That’s ok. What might I ask you? You said that you’re going to eat…

Student A: Maybe… where?

Me: weye.guneet?

Student A: Oh! Where are you going to eat?

Me: weye.guneet?

Student A: Maybe… Sizzler

Me: Nice. Good steak. (To Student B) Ask me.

Student B: What are you going to /

Me: woye.gunne.doowaf.teclass?

Student B: *laughs* woye…gunnerrr

Me: it’s OK. Try this instead: watcher

Student B: watcher

Me: watcher.gunner

Etc…

I find myself doing things like this more and more in class. I mean, if you were to pick this interaction apart, it’s not particularly good teaching to be fair. The whole interaction is staggered and unnatural, I’m modelling pronunciation with simple repetition, I’m leading the exchanges here too. But hey, I’m being honest about what happens in my class sometimes, I’m not gonna lie. (more…)

DipTESOL: introduction to the phonemic chart

This is an introductory session on the phonemic chart for trainees taking the DipTESOL. I’ve designed this to supplement input given via distance learning courses, to be run in-house. It’s meant to help trainees give a basic explanation of the phonemic chart – something I was asked to do during my DipTESOL phonology interview.

The first question I was asked in my DipTESOL phonology interview was (along the lines of…):

Can you give me a brief description of the phonemic chart, and how it might benefit learners of English?

Gulp. Where do I start?

If I were a DipTESOL tutor the first thing I would do is get the chart into play. I think the phonology part of the course is what many trainees fear, so let’s nip that in the bud straight away… This session isn’t about jumping straight in and learning all the sounds, sound symbols, place and manner of articulation and all that scary stuff. It’s about exploring the idea of the chart and helping trainees become more confident discussing it rather than using it.

Disclaimer: my flipcharts don’t look good 😦

Session time: about an hour

I encountered the phonemic chart on my CELTA course, so I’m guessing others will have too. I’d guess also that many teachers know more about it that than they think, so let’s start with a discussion: (more…)

General ideas for teaching pronunciation

(This is a follow-up to my post on phonology-based activities. I’m sharing it now because some of our teachers are about to begin training for the Trinity DipTESOL. Phonology/pronunciation features quite a bit on that course, so I want to offer our teachers an ideas bank to help them explore this area in class)

Here are a load of random pronunciation activities to try out in class. These activities have pretty worked well for me with students aged 9-16. This is a work in progress! I’ll add more to this list when I get more time or try new things.

Note: there are not many activities here that focus on connected speech. That’s because most of my CS activities come from Marks and Bowen (2013) and I don’t want to do them a disservice by plagiarising their whole book! Buy it – it’s great!

If you find something useful then please share your own ideas in the comments! Sharing is caring 🙂

Use GIFs / images / actions

Use whatever you can to associate sounds with a particular object or action. If it’s /æ/ mime a cat, /ɪ/ then mime kicking a football. Keep it active. GIFs are pretty memorable too.

Mime games

The best thing about assigning actions to phonemes is miming games! Say, for example, you’ve taught certain sounds like /d/ (act like a dog), /b/ (throw a ball), /æ/ (act like a cat). You can play a ‘backs to the board game’ where each word includes only sounds that have been taught (bad, dad, etc). The students describing the words can’t say anything, they can only mime the action for the corresponding sounds. Great fun!

Fly swat games

You’ve introduced a set of phonemes. Display them on the board. Organise the class into teams, give each with a fly swat. They line up at the board. Say a word which includes one of the sounds (best to prepare a list of words beforehand). The first team to swat the correct sound wins a point.

Variations

Add more challenge. With the above sounds you can say either ‘vowel’ or ‘consonant’ before you say the word.

Example

Teacher says: ‘vowel, butter’. Students must swat /ʌ/

Teacher says: ‘consonant, butter’. Students must swat either /b/ or /t/, or both in order if you’re feeling particularly cruel. Some of my students go mad for this! (more…)