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Ideas from past Tips to help with phonology:

But don't you mean...
A few weeks ago I mentioned the value of spot the difference activities in helping to develop an awareness of corrective prominence. See the Tip 'More than Meets the Eye'

Here are two more ideas:

When you have dealt with the overall understanding of a text, tell the students that you are going to recap the story & they must correct you if you get it wrong. For example;

Teacher: So, Nacho goes along to the restaurant.
Student: No, he goes along to the BAR.
Teacher: Oh yes, that's right. There he meets Josh.
Student: No, he meets BEN!

And so on. The students could then take over. It makes a good student-student check on the comprehension of a text as well as practice of corrective stress. Once you start this with students you can always slip the odd mistake into the classes which you know the students will pick up on - lots of fun.

The other idea is to give out sentence stems & as you read the stem out the students then choose from three possibilities. The choice depends on which word you have stressed. For example;

Ben went to the party yesterday....
- not the museum
- no Josh
- not last Friday

BEN went to the party yesterday .... not Josh.
Ben went to the PARTY yesterday ..... not the museum.
Ben went to the party YESTERDAY .... not last Friday.

Again, do a few with the students & then, in pairs, one reads the stem & the other says the continuation. You could then ask them to write some new stems & continuations which they hand to other pairs to practise with.

Helping your stds to sound more

Have you thought how monotone & boring your students sound when they are involved in pair & group work? This could be for a variety of reasons: the activity might not be particularly interesting, there is no genuine communication happening, the stds are tired, the activity is too difficult or they might be concentrating on saying the right words & forgetting about how they are saying it - the intonation.

A simple way to help them with this is to focus on pitch (sometimes called key). This is the height of the voice & can be high (for interest, surprise, shock etc.), mid (for information, neutral) or low (for boredom, disinterest etc.) - it's all to do with how you feel about what you're talking about.

Here are some ways of encouraging the stds to sound more interested:

1. Explain that they sound uninteresting & ask them how they would react to a speaker like that. If they don't believe you then tape them & play it back to them.

2. Talk to your stds in the same monotone way & they'll soon get the message!

3. As you monitor mimic them & tell them to sound more interested.

4. Tape several short conversations & the stds identify whether the speakers are using a high, mid or low pitch. Then in threes, two stds read two line dialogues & the third std identifies the pitch they are using - rotate speakers & identifier to give all a go.

5. In listening activities focus on the feelings of the speakers. A classic extensive task is; how many speakers are there & what's the relationship between them/how do they feel?

6. Put a sentence on the board & stds say it together in different ways; surprised,bored, astonished, impressed...

7. Compare the pitch of your stds native language with English. If they use a narrow range in their own language then make them aware of the difference with English.

8. Give out roleplays & not only give the role but also how they should feel.

9. Mime roleplays - give stds rolecards with a scene on it & three adjectives to incorporate into the given scene - the stds practise & then mime the scene in front of the class who try & guess the three adjectives.

10. Give an 'opposite mood' roleplay: one std is happy about a few things & the other is unhappy about the same things so they have to convince each other to change to their mood. This is similar to the activity 'Moaning Minnies' in Communication Games - Advanced by Hadfield (Longman).

11. Informal/formal language - play two conversations, one informal (usually higher pitch) & the other formal (usually lower pitch) but the pitch is wrong - stds discuss the differences - then they can have the conversation with the script using the right pitch & carry on the dialogues.

So it's not necessarily what you say but the way you say it!

More than meets the eye
Do you ever do those 'Spot the difference' activities that you find in the cartoon & quiz sections of the newspaper? You've got two almost identical pictures & you have to find the ten differences between the pictures.

You have probably used them with your students as well. In pairs each student has a picture & without looking at each others they have to describe their picture, listen to their partner's description & together they discover the differences. Excellent communicative problem-solving oral practice. If the pictures contain vocabulary recently covered then all the better. If you can't find any of these games in newspapers they are easy to make as all you need is a simple line drawing & some tippex.

They are also great for practising 'prominence' - the stresses in utterances. One of the functions of prominence is to help contrast or correct information. This picture difference activity is ideal for this. Have a look at this exchange:

Std A: I've got a man walking down a path.
Std B: No, in my picture it's a woman walking down the path.
Std A: OK, that's one difference. There's an airplane flying across
the sky.
Std B: Yes, from left to right.
Std A: No, from right to left.
Std B: OK, another difference.

Well, you hope they might come out with something like this.

The students are correcting each other. It would be a good to point this function of prominence out before they do the activity - awareness is half the battle won, it is said. Fit the activity into the theme or use it as a warmer or cooler.

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