Reflecting on Pronunciation Class at the End of the Year

ESL Class Pronunciation Class San Jose CAWe had our last ESL English Pronunciation class yesterday. I have been thinking about what worked well this year, and what could be improved.  I love to survey the students at the end of the year.  Their responses help me to get a better idea of what they liked and didn’t like.  Here’s a free printable of my class “end-of-the-year” class survey.

They all wanted more talking time.  That shouldn’t surprise me since teachers talking too much is the No. 1 complaint of ESL learners everywhere!  So next year I’m going to use my student teachers to break into small groups more often.

The homework I give is really effective. Developed after 5 years of teaching, I’m pleased with the homework portion of class.  I give students a listening assignment – using web sources, they pick one audio clip (about 1 minute), listen to it, then write a brief summary of what the audio clip was about. In class they read their paragraph outloud.  This homework targets listening, writing, grammar, vocabulary and speaking. So the words they use to recall the paragraph are the words they read out in class.  This is different from reading a random paragraph the teacher chooses.  Because it actually targets the real vocabulary and grammar the students use!  See my previous post on listening homework with a free printable of my Pronunciation Class Homework.

They wanted grammar correction.  Since I focus on helping them pronounce English I usually stick to sounds, linking, reductions  and intonation in sentences and conversation.  I have not been correcting grammar very much, or very explicitly.  Since the class is only 1 hour, 40 minutes (and a few of them arrive late) they really isn’t much time to correct grammar.  I might be able to improve this if I use my student teachers in small groups more.

I want to try using more movement in class next year.  mostly I just taught at the front of hte class and wrote on the board.  I’d like to do more picture description too.  I think this may stretch the students even more.

Jaw Stability/Jaw Grading in Tongue Thrust

TongueThrust Eng Vowel Ex Pix page jpgIf you have a student or client with tongue thrust (as known as oral myofunctional disorder)  you may need some information about the jaw.

Learn more about the jaw here and see my resources for therapy ideas on Teachers Pay Teachers.com.

Vowel QuadrilateralThe vowels are often affected by the position of the jaw. If you are teaching English pronunciation to a foreign-born speaker, they may improve their low vowels /ae/ as in /cat/, and /ah/ as in /pot/, if they open their mouth wider (move their jaw to a low jaw position).

See my free printable English Vowel Quadrilateral here.

See my free printable Mouth Openings Pictures & Words Page here.

The entire Tongue Thrust/Jaw Stability handout packet is available on TeachersPayTeachers.

10 Ways to Improve your English

10 Ways to Improve Your EnglishImprove_English_ESL_classes_SanJose_CA

Speaking

1.Join an ESL class for regular practice in English.

2.Practice with a native English speaker every day for a few minutes. Tell your American friend, neighbor or workmate you are trying to improve your English, and ask them to chat with you each day.

3.Learn English sounds and pronunciation rules. Most helpful to learn are TH, R,L and the different vowel sounds. Use the expected stress in longer words. Learn to link your words together smoothly in a sentence, and not pronounce each word separately.

Listening

4.Watch TV programs with the subtitles on. Pre-recorded shows are best. Newscasts and live shows will have a lag between the dialogue and the printed caption.

5.“Eavesdrop” on English speakers around you. Listen to others conversations and try to figure out what they’re saying.

6.Listen to books on CD. It may help to have the printed book to look at as you listen. Listen without text for an added challenge. Check you public library for books on CD.

Reading

7.Read “easy reader” or “graded readers” children’s books. Your public library has hundreds of easy readers in the ‘juvenile’ section.

Writing

8.Write more in English – letters, emails, cards, or keep a diary.

Vocabulary

9.Keep a small notebook handy for jotting down new words and their meanings. Review your list and use new words in a sentence to help memorize them.

General

10.Make a goal for your English learning. Setting a goal is the best way to improve a skill.

Click here for the free printable 10 Ways to Improve Your English.

(Reprinted with permission – original post 4/23/12015)

Understanding Can and Can’t

Understanding Can & Can'tA student in English Pronunciation class asked how to make “can” and “can’t” different, because when she hears Americans use these words it’s hard to tell them apart! Sometimes you hear the T on “can’t”, but not always.  There is an easier way to know the difference:

When we use “can” (affirmative), the vowel often gets reduced, and sounds like “kin” or “kun”.

But with “can’t” (negative), the vowel never gets reduced.  It always sounds like a short A sound.

“I can [kin] do it.” “Can [kin] you call me?” “We can [kin] go.”

“I can’t [kant] do it.” “Can’t [kant] you call me?” “We can’t [kant] go.”

 

 

 

 

Linking Vowel to Vowel Using W or Y

Linking Vowel to VowelLinking a vowel to a vowel in English will sound smoother with adding a W or a Y sound.

Here are the rules.

Rule #1.  When a word ending in iy, ey, ay or oy is followed by a vowel, use Y

  • Be a sport = Beya sport.
  • Play a game = Playa game.
  • Tie it up = Tiyit up.
  • Employ a professional = Employa professional.

Rule #2.  When  a word ending in uw, ow or aw is followed by a vowel , use W

  • through it all = throughwit all
  • slow and steady = slowand steady
  • How are you? = Howare you?

See the free printable here (includes teacher notes and key.) These pages are from this resource for linking Hawaii EDU Pronunciation

Tongue Twister Fun

Tongue Twisters ESL English PronunciationTongue Twisters are poems that are tricky to pronounce, even for native speakers!

Trying to say a tongue twister poem fast often has hilarious results!  But they can be very good practice when you say them slowly.  Here are a few of my favorites: She Sells Seashells, Peter Piper and How Much Wood?

  • She sells seashells by the seashore.
  • The shells she sells are surely seashells.
  • So if she sells shells by the seashore,
  • I’m sure she sells seashore shells.

Hear the audio clip She Sells Seashells.

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  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
  • If Peter Piper Picked a peck of pickled peppers,
  • Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

Hear the audio clip Peter Piper.

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  • How much wood would a woodchuck chuck
  • If a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Hear the audio clip How Much Wood?

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Click here for a free printable worksheet – Tongue Twisters

Shortcut for Pronouncing -ed Endings

Shortcut -ed endingsPronouncing -ed endings correctly makes a big difference.  When a student can pronounce the -ed endings he will be much easier to understand.  Comprehensible English is the goal of accent modification.

There is a common method of teaching -ed endings by using /d/, /t/ and /id/.  This was a little confusing for my lower students, so I developed a “shortcut” to pronouncing -ed endings.

Words ending in T or D, add ‘id’ and say it as a separate syllable.

Words ending in all other sounds, add “d” and DON’T say it as a separate syllable.

Important tip!  Beginning D is said with a puff of air.  Ending D is said with NO PUFF OF AIR!  This is helpful, when students say “gooda” for good,  “hadda” for had, “playeda” for played or “moveda” for moved. No puff of air here will help your student’s English to be more comprehensible.

See the free printable Pronouncing -ed Shortcut handout here.

Have fun speaking English!

Reducing “Your” and “Our”

Pronouncing your our Accent Reduction Classes San Jose CAHave you learned these common reductions of English?

  • “gonna” is a reduction of “going to”
  • “hafta” is a reduction of “have to”
  • “I wanna” is a reduction of “I want to…”
  • “I gotta…” is a reduction of “I’ve got to…”

Some think reduced English forms are lazy or sloppy, BUT THEY ARE NOT.  Reduced forms are EXPECTED in most conversations, in both casual and formal settings. Your American listener is expecting reductions of English grammar in order to communicate in a fast and efficient way.

English listeners are also expecting linking.  See my previous post on How Linking Improves your Pronunciation.

Reducing your and our is very common in conversation. Your (also you’re)  is reduced to yer, and our is reduced to ar.  Some examples might sound like this:

  • Is he coming to yer house?
  • I want to see yer boss.
  • Yer going to college? (you’re)
  • I want yer opinion.
  • Should we go away for ar anniversary?
  • Ar class is cancelled today.
  • An animal dug up ar yard.
  • Ar post office is closed now.

See my 2016 free printable on reductions here.

 

 

 

A Nativity Play for ESL Students

Christmas Play ESLThis simple play tells the Nativity story from Luke 1 and 2.  We use it in our ESL class with adults.  It can also be used with younger students.  The Narrator reads the story, and some of the students act out the parts.  The play can be done with the actors speaking only a few simple lines, or the Narrator reading the whole script.  The play takes about 5- 7 minutes to perform.

This activity is good for ESL students with beginning English skills.  By watching the play, the other students see a version of the Christmas story, and they understand and remember the characters, and action of the story, even with low English skills.

Get creative and have your students wear costumes and use props.  We also sang a few Christmas carols during, or after the play.

Find the free printable script for the Nativity story here.

Credit to our intermediate teacher Rod for the script and the costumes in the photo.