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Teaching Tips 186

The Best Medicine
Squeezed In
Rhythm & Blues

laughter The Best
Medicine

On 1st July it was International Joke Day. I have no idea who designated this Day, it seems that you can easily make up your own. Anyway, it's a good excuse to bring a little more humour into the classroom so here's a warmer for your lessons.

Jokes are difficult in another language so to be sure all understand them, the ones below are children's jokes. You should get a smile anyway, as well as few groans - but as long as there is a reaction, I'm sure it'll be an enjoyable activity. The students might then come out with their own jokes. There are lots of joke sites on the net so hunt around if you need some different ones.

Here are some jokes, followed by some ideas on using them:

What do you call a boomerang that doesn't work?

A stick

**********

What's the difference between an elephant & a strawberry?

The strawberry is red.

**********

How can you tell that there is an elephant in your sandwich?

When it's too heavy to lift.

**********

What do you call a camel with three humps?

Humphrey

**********

Why couldn't the skeleton go to the dance?

Because he had no body to go with.

**********

Why was 6 frightened of 7?

Because 7 8 9.

**********

If the red house is on the right side and if the blue house is on the left side where's the white house?

Washington DC

**********

When is a car not a car?

When it turns into a garage.

**********

Where do you find a two legged dog?

Where you left him.

**********

How do you get four elephants into a car?

Two in the front & two in the back.

**********

Why did the chicken cross the road?

To get to the other side.

**********

Why do birds fly south in winter?

Because it's too far to walk.

The warmer:

Start off by telling a few jokes to the class & introduce some of the lexical field - to tell a joke, punchline, only joking, an in-joke, a practical joke, humour etc - depending on level. You could discuss whether they are good at telling jokes - I can never remember them myself.

a. The most natural way would be to give each student a joke, make sure they understand them, & they mingle & tell each other their jokes.

b. Alternatively, you could separate the jokes, the first & second lines, hand out a different first & second line to each student & they have to mingle & find the punchline for the first line joke that they have.

c. Or give out the jokes all jumbled up & the students, in pairs, match them up.

At the end, get the students into small groups & they decide on the best & worst jokes. You could also look at the type of jokes above & discuss whether there are equivalents in the students' languages. You could move into a translation activity.

Humour & laughter in the classroom has a lot to do with your attitude to the event. If you expect & promote an enjoyable experience, combined with spontaneous communication from the students & yourself, then there are clearly more openings for humour.

For a very practical book, 'Laughing Matters - Humour in the classroom' by Peter Medgyes (CUP, 2002)
Amazon.co.uk
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521799600/
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accordian
Squeezed In

Last week we briefly looked at rhythm, how to introduce it & a few practice ideas. A big part of rhythm is what happens to the words that get squashed between the stresses. This area is commonly called 'sounds in combination'.

There are five major areas:

1. weakening - words such as prepositions, articles & auxiliary verbs are in their unstressed form, they are softer & shorter. The schwa sound vowel sound  (the most common)  & the sounds vowel sound  &  vowel sound are reduced forms.

Here are the weak forms of 'him', 'she', 'does', 'some', 'them', 'was', 'that'.

weak form


2. catenation/linking
- a consonant at the end of one word is carried over to connect with a vowel at the beginning of the next word. This causes learners to misinterpret word boundaries. The two words 'he's in' are linked with the 's' & the 'i' - learners can hear this as one word.

he's in
The same linkage with 'an apple'

an apple


3. intrusion
- an extra sound is introduced to lubricate the flow of one vowel to another. The utterance 'we are leaving' needs the /j/ sound between the 'we & the 'are'. Other common intrusive sounds are the /r/ & /w/

we are ...

The /w/ sound is needed between 'go' & 'off'.

go off


4. elision
- a sound is missed out e.g. for 'correct' -

correct

The /t/ sound is dropped in 'next door'.

next door

5. assimilation - a sound changes because it is affected by the sound that follows it e.g. for 'sandwich' & 'light blue' -

sandwichlight blue


As with all areas of phonology it is a good idea to introduce these gradually. I would introduce them in the order given above. This is based on frequency & the amount of interference they cause. Once you have introduced the idea you can then integrate them into your teaching.

Any listening activity can be exploited for a focus on these areas. After the listening skills development, focus on a short extract with the script & ask the stds to find examples of one or two of the features.

Look at the following & decide which of the features above are present.

a. go away
g. waste paper
b. acts
h. ten pounds
c. three onions
i. bright colour
d. scripts
j. I am
e. quite good
k. go away
f. ask them
l. two hours

There's a good activity in - 'Pronunciation Games' by Mark Hancock, called 'Link Maze' (C1). Students have to follow a route depending on the intrusive sound in the examples. To get hold of the book:
Amazon.co.uk
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521467357/
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http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521467357/
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Check out all of the other phonology pages at:
http://developingteachers.com/phonology/phonology.htm

Other recommended phonology books for the classroom:

Pronunciation Practice Activities - Martin Hewings (CUP)
Amazon.co.uk
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/3125340780/
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Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/3125340780/
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English Pronunciation In Use Intermediate - Mark Hancock (CUP)
Amazon.co.uk
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521006570/
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Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521006570/
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English Pronunciation in Use Advanced - Martin Hewings (CUP)
Amazon.co.uk
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521693764/
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Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521693764/
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English Pronunciation in Use Elementary - Sylvie Donna (CUP)
Amazon.co.uk
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/052169373X/
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http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/052169373X/
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rhythm
Rhythm & Blues

Last week we looked at the many & varied uses for the cuisenaire rods, one of which was the representation of rhythm -
http://www.developingteachers.com/phonology/rhythm_rods.htm
It has been said that rhythm in English is one of the contributing factors to the prevalence of popular music in the world at large. Although there is debate surrounding rhythm in natural English speech - how often does it really occur & perhaps all languages should be on the stress-timed continuum with some languages simply being more stress-timed than others, an awareness for our students is still useful & it is a useful way to arrive at 'sounds in combination' - intrusions, elision, weakening etc... Here is a way of introducing rhythm to your students:

Write on the board:

1 2 3 4

Get the students to say together the numbers - drill them, several times.

Then put the following on the board & get the students to say them together.

1 and 2 and 3 and 4

Then put the following on the board & get the students to say them together.

1 and then a 2 and then a 3 and then a 4

Then put the following on the board & get the students to say them together.

1 and then put a 2 and then put a 3 and then put a 4

Then interchange the words in between the numbers:

1 and 2 and put a 3 and then put a 4

Play around with combinations, getting the students to repeat together. It should be lots of fun.

The idea is that, in theory, each line takes the same time to say. We push the little bits together between the main stress & it is this that causes rhythm. To further exemplify this put the following on the board:

Take it home
(3 syllables - 2 stresses)

Watch it in the air
(5 syllables - 2 stresses)

Elicit the number of syllables for each & the number of main stresses. This should clarify how words are squashed between the main stresses.

Adrian Underhill's excellent phonology book 'Sound Foundations' looks at rhythm like this, as well as giving step-by-step awareness & practice activities. To get hold of the book:
Amazon.co.uk
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0435240919/
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http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0435240919/
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Then on to integrating it into your lessons & some practice activities - here are a couple of ideas:

- the rods idea above - the rhythm of nursery rhymes & limericks are represented by cuisenaire rods by the teacher & then students are given one & asked to represent the rhythm themselves with the rods - see http://www.developingteachers.com/phonology/
rhythm_rods.htm

- the same with rap songs. Also put up the lyrics, get the students to mark the tone units, the stresses & then chant them aloud as a group. To see an explanation of tone units & prominence - http://www.developingteachers.com/phonology/
groups_prominence.htm
.

- Mark Hancock has a nice activity, 'Rhythm Dominoes', in his excellent 'Pronunciation Games'. The task is designed for pre-intermediate & up & consists of playing dominoes with the matching of short phrases & their stress patterns. To get hold of the book:
Amazon.co.uk
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521467357/
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http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521467357/
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- The popular 'Jazz Chants' by Carolyn Graham has some interesting units to use, the students chanting along with the audio - not everyone's cup of tea though although great fun with the younger learner. To get hold of the book:
Amazon.co.uk
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0194366944/
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http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0194366944/
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- get you students to write their own rap songs by giving a jumbled selection of words, with pairs of words matching up rhythmically. The students sort them out & use them to write some lyrics & then read aloud for each other.

- when drilling your students, don't forget to beat the stress at the same time.

- for recognition clapping, tapping etc for recognition during listening tasks.

- awareness of sounds in combination - more next week on this.

And while on the subject, do check out Richard Cauldwell's Speech In Action website, his articles & the Cool Speech courses he offers.
http://www.speechinaction.org/

Other recommended phonology books for the classroom:

Pronunciation Practice Activities - Martin Hewings (CUP)
Amazon.co.uk
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/3125340780/
developingteache

Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/3125340780/
developingteac0b

English Pronunciation In Use Intermediate - Mark Hancock (CUP)
Amazon.co.uk
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521006570/
developingteache

Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521006570/
developingteac0b

English Pronunciation in Use Advanced - Martin Hewings (CUP)
Amazon.co.uk
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521693764/
developingteache

Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521693764/
developingteac0b

English Pronunciation in Use Elementary - Sylvie Donna (CUP)
Amazon.co.uk
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/052169373X/
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Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/052169373X/
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