FreeSpeechTherapyPrintablesBe sure to click on the NEW! FREE PRINTABLES page up above (in the menu at the top of this page)!

I’ve linked my printables in one place for easy use!

It contains a partial list and I’ll add more printables soon, so check back often!

Thanks!  Paula

Songs & Activities, End-of-the-Year Class

ESL End_of_the_YearTeaching ESL is so much fun, for myself and all the teachers in our program. This year we had the pleasure of working with over 200 students, from beginners to advanced, on every Monday and Wednesday morning.  The students work hard all year to learn English.  And we’re so proud of their efforts. It’s the end of the year for our ESL students.  This week we celebrated with

a potluck lunch,

a cake,ESL class cake


special music performance by students,

participation certificates and

awards for perfect attendance.

Students enjoy our end-of-the-year class and put together gifts and words of appreciation for all the teachers. It’s a very special time for everyone.

At our celebrations this year our theme was “You’re a Star!” with star decorations.  Others years we have done the themes “Balloons – You are rising to new heights!”  and “Grow!  – You’re English skills are blossoming!” After the potluck we sing a couple songs.  On Monday we sang Make New  Friends (a traditional girl scout song) and  Happy Trails (by Dale Evans and Roy Rogers). End of the Year ESL classThe song Happy Trails talks about friends parting ways.  There’s a great vocabulary lesson in here (a trail is a road, etc.) and a cultural lesson (that we Americans value friendship, we wish our friends well when we part, and hope to see them again in the future.)  On Wednesday we sang This Land is your Land, a popular song for ESL classes.

We write the lyrics in large print on a poster, and on handouts for the students to see.  We teach the songs and sing them all together. The Make New Friends song we also sang in a round.  Singing is an excellent way for your ESL students to learn pronunciation, rhythm and intonation!  I hope you’ll do singing with your students.  Click here for our free printable song sheet for Monday’s songs and a free printable song sheet for Wednesday’s songs.

The Cup Song in ESL ClassThe advanced ESL students on Wednesday did a special performance of  “Cups” (Anna Kendrick’s song for the movie Pitch Perfect). The students put on a great little show singing and tapping rhythm on the table with cups and their hands, and singing the song “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone.” I’ve seen a couple videos of  the song online, if you are interested in seeing it.  It was so appropriate for the end-of-the-year class! Props to their teacher for organizing and working with the students for this special music performance! Here’s a free printable for The Cups Song.

And to all our ESL students – thank you for coming to class and working hard to learn English.  I’m so proud of all of you!

Pronouncing Special Double Vowels

Proouncing Special Double VowelsOften with double vowels, we say only the name, or “long” sound, of the first vowel:

  • In read we say [reed] with a long e, and 1 syllable.
  • In soap we say [sop] with a long o. and 1 syllable.

But there are some special words in English where we pronounce both vowels, and make the word 2 syllables or more.

  • Create is pronounced [kree  ate] with a long e and a long a, and 2 syllables.
  • Creation is pronounced [kree a  shun]  with a long e, a long a and a short u, and 3 syllables.
  • React is pronounced [ree  akt] with a long e and a short a, and 2 syllables.
  • Reaction is pronounced [ree  ak  shun] with a long e, a short a and a schwa, and 3 syllables.
  • Graduate is pronounced [gra  du  ate] with a short a, long, u and long a, and 3 syllables.
  • Idea is pronounced [i  dee  uh] with a long i, long e and a schwa, and 3 syllables.
  • Science is pronounced [si  ens] with a long 1 and a short e, and 2 syllables.
  • Chaos is pronounced [kay   os] with a long a and a short o, and 2 syllables.
  • Ruin is pronounced [ru  in] with a long u and a short i, and 2 syllables.
  • Trial in pronounced [tri  ul] with a long i and a short u, and 2 syllables
  • Violin is pronounced [vi  uh  lin] with a long 1, a schwa and a short i, and 3 syllables

Linking the vowels with a /w/ or /y/ often helps you say these words clearly.   Learn these special exceptions and you’ll improve your English!

See more on linking in English here.


The “Way” in Graduation – Linking with W

Let’s use linking with the word GRADUATION.

Graduation has 2 vowels together that follow a special rule – both their names are pronounced, each as a separate syllable.

American English speakers link vowels when we pronounce them, using a Y or a W. The linking sound in graduation is a W sound.

graduation = [ gra ju Way shun’] – the ceremony marking the end of a school program

graduate (verb) = [gra ju Wait] – the act of graduating, to graduate

graduates (verb = [gra ju Waits] -present tense like in the sentence “My son graduates on Saturday.”

graduate (noun) – [gra ju Wit] – the person who graduates

Read more about linking with W here.


Play-Based, Multi-Modality Learning

Are you using all of your available tools for teaching?

Play-Based Multi-Modality LearningHow about playdoh with books and flashcards and children’s songs?

Most small children love playdoh.  Today when I was seeing one of my kiddos, we played with playdoh.  She wanted to make letters and shapes.  She knew some letters in her name.  I got out the shapes book  and new flashcards of shapes, so we made triangles and M’s and A’s.  We pressed, and rolled and cut the playdoh.  She rolled a few “snakes” too (a good time to talk about “S” and the sound “sssssss”). Then I put the A is For Alligator song on the CD player. and we sang the alphabet while playing with the playdoh shapes and letters!  My kiddo lifted her letters up and danced them around the table to the music.  So in this lesson, we’re using listening, looking, touching, pressing, movement – all things that help kids learn and remember!

Think of active ways to teach and review target concepts for your little ones.  Play-based activities with multi-modality learning is always fun, and kids remember and learn when they’re having a good time!

See previous post on the A is for Alligator Song here.

50 States That Rhyme Song

50 States That Rhyme Song for ESLHere’s another song we do at ESL class.  It’s The 50 States That Rhyme song.  We have our students sing the song.  Then we pass out the names of all 50 states, in large print (one state name per page) and ask questions.  Each student is holding the name of a state. If you have less than 50 students, give them a couple state’s names.

“Hold up your state if:

if you’ve ever visited your state (we live in California and the student holding “California” holds it up.)

if your state ends in an A (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, etc.)

if your state has only 4 letters (Ohio, Utah)

if your state is made of two words (New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, etc.)

if your state is a series of islands (Hawaii)”

You get the idea! Why not try making up your own questions.

You can find the song on YouTube.   Click here for the free printable of the song The 50 States That Rhyme. And have fun teaching English!


Watch for Reduced “Clusters”

Reducing Consonant ClustersMany times when speaking in conversation,  American English speakers will reduce words with “consonant clusters”.  Consonant clusters are when 2 (or more!) consonants are side-by-side in a word. In English we have consonant clusters at the end of words:

  • giFT
  • woRK
  • haND
  • waNT

At the beginning of words:

  • PLate
  • GReat
  • STRing
  • SPLash

And even in the middle of words!

  • huNGRy
  • paiNTer
  • hiSTory

Sometimes we reduce the cluster to make connected speech more efficient. Here are some examples of reduced “clusters”:

“I need a gift receipt” = GIFT RECEIPT = GIF  RECEIT

“I had cateract surgery” = CATERACT SURGERY = KATERAK  SURGERY

“This is the business center” = BUSINESS CENTER = BIZNIS  SENER

“What (music) bands do you like?” = BANDS =BANZ

Some teachers say when speaking English, you must pronounce every sound clearly, but I advise you to learn common reductions to improve your listening comprehension as well as you verbal expression! So if you are unsure how to pronounce something, please ask here, or check with a native English speaker.


More -ed Endings Practice

cooked_cleaned_melted_ed endingsGetting the -ed ending right makes such a difference for our ESL students.  Ideas are communicated more easily, and students feel successful both speaking and understanding English.  The spelling is always -ed, but past tense words can be pronounced 3 different ways:

  • With words ending in an unvoiced sound  (p, f, k, s, sh, ch or x) – you add a /-t/.
  • With words ending in a voiced sound (b, v, g, z, th, zh, j, r, l, m, n, ng and any vowel) – you add a /-d/.
  • With words ending in t or d  – you add /id/(this makes an extra syllable).

Click here for my new free printable worksheet on -ed endings (fill-in-the-blank words).

Our Last IEP Meeting

Our Last IEP MeetingMy son will graduate from high school in a month.  And today I attended his last IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting. As a speech language pathologist, I have attended many IEPs for other students, but the IEP of your own child is a matter of personal commitment, personal joys and sorrows and personal hope for the future for a child you love more than life itself!

Over the years his IEP meetings have been stress-inducing, time-consuming, at times adversarial, and other times cooperative and productive.  Together my husband and I have weathered meetings where important staff did not show up, as well as when the special ed. director and 2 school district lawyers showed up unannounced.  And when  services were unilaterally withdrawn by the school, we requested and got an outside independent assessment and got our son’s services reinstated. With the help of Parent Helping Parents, and the California Department of Education educational safeguards office we kept our meetings on track. We advocated for adaptive equipment, lobbied teachers and the special ed. staff to our side, and strove to maintain an open relationship (as open as we could) with our school district. For 12 years I’ve saved reports, catalogued meetings, collected resources and recorded helpful phone numbers.  The organization skill is deeply ingrained as evidenced by my IEP notebooks.

IEP_notebooks_organizedIt was advice a parent gave me when I was just getting started down this road called “Special Ed.”.  Denise said “…finding the right help can be a daunting task when you have an Asperger child.  We went to (Social Thinking) sessions with Michelle Garcia Winner  for 2 years. I wasn’t sure that the program was helping him in the real world, but over the years, I can see that the lessons had been absorbed and he was slowly using what he had learned in the classes.  Some kids need tutoring in math, some need the operating manual for social interaction! Middle school is very difficult, but not that my son is a freshman in high school, I can see things coming together.  He is becoming a wonderful human being, and I have to tell you there were a few years I had my doubts. It is really important to make good connections with people at schools and keep your interactions as positive as possible. Giving them the chance to have empathy and understanding of your child’s condition is key. They are the people who will make a difference in your son’s daily social life.”

Her advice made a big difference when our family and the school has our disagreements!  No year was perfect, but each year had positive elements, successful programs and effective teachers.  I spoke up when things worked well.  I said thank you, and showed the adminstration and teachers my gratitude for their efforts.

I have to confess that today’s meeting, our last IEP meeting of my son’s school career, marks a bittersweet end to this stage in our lives as high school comes to an end in June and college starts in September.  My son will graduate with a high school diploma.  The IEP services that have been a part of our lives for so many years will come to an end.  It is cause for both celebration and anxiety. I find myself in unfamiliar territory.  The community college has a Disability and Educational Support Program.  However it functions in a very different way from our old IEP.  Some supports will be available, but class content cannot be modified.  Academic counseling tailored to students with special needs will be available.  More things will come into view when he begins there in September. It is both scary and exciting. In this, our experience is like any teenager’s and parent’s.