Tag Archives: pronunciation

Oh! English Pronunciation! Let’s pronounce words ending in -ture!

On this blog post, we are going to address a very common pronunciation mistake among my students, and maybe among yours too.



Let’s start

Write on the board the word CULTURE and ask your students to try to pronounce it. It could be tried in pairs or just shouted. You’ll be surprised at the variety of different pronunciations your students will come up with.


Time to explain a bit of phonetics.

Your students might not be familiar with the international phonetic alphabet, but don’t let this discourage you.

Let’s break the sound up:

Write the symbol /tʃ/ on the board and model pronunciation. It should be quite easy as this sound exists in many languages. If it helps, ask them to find words in their language that have the same sound.

Got it? Now, write the vowel /ə/. You’ll probably want to explain this is the famous schwa, resist the temptation, or maybe not but, really, there is no need to add to their burden.

To get the sound right, just ask your students to relax and punch (slightly, you don’t want them to pass out) their stomachs. Ask: What sound did you get?  Exactly, this is the schwa.

Now that we have the two sounds, put them together and there you have it. Tada!!! /tʃə/


Competition Game

Let’s go back now to our word CULTURE. Again, write it down on the board and, again, ask students to pronounce it. Better? Much better, I’m sure!

Competition: Ask students to work in pairs and tell them they have one minute to write down words ending in –ture. Needless to say, the winner is the pair with more correct –ture ending words.

Write their words on the board. If you feel there are some important ones left, write them on the board. Drill pronunciation.This is my selection of words:


Writing. More fun coming

Once all the words ending in -ture are on the board, ask students to work in pairs and write a sentence containing at least three words ending in- ture.  Give students slips of paper ( I normally fold a regular sheet of paper in two, horizontally) and ask them to write (nice and legible) their small tongue twister there. Ask them to pass it to the pair sitting next to them. In pairs, they practise reading the sentence. Repeat procedure as many times as you deem appropriate.

Example:

The texture of the creature in the picture in the literature classroom was just amazing.


Spoiling the fun

This is English. One of the most unpredictable languages as regards pronunciation.

You might want to point out that in some cases, the ending -ture is not always pronounced /tʃə/, as in the word “mature”. Fortunately, this happens in only very few cases.

 

Five Different Ways to Practise your Listening Skills.

I won’t spend much time introducing this post, mainly because today is one of these days when the muse has decided to leave me.

Perhaps you’re wondering what else you can do to pass your listening test with  flying colours apart from doing every single listening comprehension exercise in your student’s book and all the ones in the workbook. I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel, but here are a few things you might want to try.

1.Read a few tips and put them into practice. Students often complain that despite grasping the main information content of the recorded material, they sometimes seem to be unable to provide the right answer and this leads to frustration.

Getting a high mark in a listening comprehension exercise requires practice, lots, and also knowing a few tips. The most common types of listening exercises are Blank Filling and Multiple Choice and there are a few handy hints on how best to deal with them that you might want to read. The tips below aim at teaching students to listen effectively to enable them to select the information they require from what they hear.

 2.The obvious. Find a good listening site with plenty of listening exercises to choose from.

One of the sites I have been recommending my students lately to practise Listening is Ingles en Aviles, a fantastic blog aimed at B2 (upper-intermediate) and C1 (advanced students) where you’ll find lots of listening comprehension exercises to choose from.

Can I also suggest my own Listening section? 

3. Listening to Vaughan radio

Vaughan Radio is a live radio station broadcasting from Madrid, Spain that provides listeners the chance to improve English language skills. So while you’re at home, maybe cleaning or ironing and bored to death, you might want to give it a try. From time to time you’ll hear some Spanish words to help Spanish listeners, but most of the time the show is in English and really worth listening to.

Here’s the link to listen on the computer. Alternatively, you can download the app on your smart phone. Type Radio Vaughan in the search box to download the app. My favourite programme? “The show with no name”.

4. Watching series.

Here, I would recommend ororo.tv. What can ororo.tv do to help you improve your English? What will you find on this website? An amazing number of TV shows and films in their original versions and with subtitles in English. Right now, I am hooked on the Big Bang Theory, an American sitcom about four young scientists, but surely you’ll find attractive alternatives here to suit every taste and mood.

5. A new web tool: Youglish.

A very interesting tool to help you with your pronunciation and your listening is Youglish.  In the search box, type the word or expression you want to hear in context. Youglish provides you with videos, from You Tube, where the word/expression is spoken by real people and in context.


In case you’re wondering, this is not a sponsored post. It’s just a few recommendations from a humble teacher trying to help students by sharing some useful links.

Thanks for reading!

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Two Superb Sites to Practise Pronunciation by Reading Along

In this post, I want to share with you two superb sites that can help you improve pronunciation by reading along.

Aim:

By asking students to repeatedly read a selected text or story while simultaneously listening to a text or a story, you can help them

  • improve reading fluency
  • improve pronunciation
  • improve automatic word recognition

1. The first site Listen A Minute.com is one I have been using for years. Here you can find alphabetically-listed topic- based activities  from  Airports and Harry Potter to Zoos.You don’t even need to register. It’s completely free!! Choose a topic and read along. One minute a day… that’s all they are asking and in return… you’ll be passing your listening/speaking tests with flying colours.

2. The second site I want to share with you is a youtube channel called Learn English Through Story ,where short stories at various levels are read at a slow pace to further improve reading and listening skills in English. There are 7 levels. Choose the one that fits your level best. Visit youtube and write  Learn English through Story on the search box.

Procedure:

  • Pick a topic or a story
  • Set a  timer for one minute, and read the article/ story aloud until the timer goes off.
  • Read aloud the same passage  three times or until you feel confident.
  • Remember that the aim is to read along, not just to listen.
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Most Common Pronunciation Mistakes Heard in Oral Exams

Even for the most confident students  taking an oral exam can be quite stressful. Twice a year, in June and September,  I  assess students’ speaking abilities acting  as both an interlocutor asking questions and interacting with students, or an assessor listening to students’ performance.

It was while acting as an assessor that I  decided to write down the most common pronunciation  mistakes students make  with the intention of  going over them ,with my own students, at the very beginning of the course.

I  have created a quiz with, what I hope, will be the last I see of these pronunciation mistakes. I hope you find it useful!

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Phonetizer: an online free tool to help you improve pronunciation

One of the most difficult things about learning a language is its phonetics. Unlike other languages that have pronunciation rules, the English language has very few pronunciation rules and lots of exceptions. Knowing the International Phonetic Alphabet can help you pronounce words correctly.
Phonetizer is a little tool that transcribes English texts into the International Phonetic Alphabet. Phonetizer is very easy to use. It has two panels: in the first one, you write or paste the text and  then click “Transcribe” and in the second panel you will get the transcription. In this second panel you can also select a word or a phrase and click “Speak” for the software to read your selected words or phrases.

 

Wanna have a laugh? Try to guess the answers to these jokes. They are written with phonetic symbols using the International Phonetic Alphabet. (answers below)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Nothing. It just waved!

2. Because he had no body to go with.

3. Because it had a virus.

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