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Teaching Tips 158

Unvoice the rule
Wandering around

sound, sound,
sound sound

Unvoice the rule

On the site there are quite a few ideas on dealing with phonology in the classroom. These ideas are brought together into a dedicated section on the site at

Within this there are ideas for practising sounds, as well as the phonemic chart
And on the phonemic chart page there are three ways for working out if a sound is voiced or unvoiced:

1. Put your hands over your ears & say the sounds - you'll hear the voiced sounds.
2. Put your hand on your throat while saying the sounds - you'll feel a vibration for the voiced sounds.
3. Put a piece of paper in front of your mouth when saying the sounds - the paper will move when saying the unvoiced sounds.

To know this helps learners with the pronunciation of sounds, & also helps teachers with correction. This un/voiced distinction also helps us to work out a couple of rules. Have a look at the following examples & work out the rule:

For plurals & third person singular verbs in the present simple:

plurals ending in sound

plurals ending in sound

plurals ending in soundsound

So why are do the above words end in those sounds?
So now think of some third person singular present simple verbs (goes, visits..) & see if the same rules apply.

For past tense regular verb endings:

verbs ending in sound

verbs ending in sound

verbs ending in sound

And again, why do the above words end in those sounds?


Answers to the plurals & third person singular verbs in the present simple:

The last sound before the end one is unvoiced so it is followed by sound

The last sound before the end one is voiced so it is followed by

The last sound before the end one is a sibilant sound

Answers to the past tense regular endings:

The last sound before the end one is unvoiced so it is followed by

The last sound before the end one is unvoiced so it is followed by

The last sound before the end one is sound or sound so it is followed by soundsound

So now we know the rules, what do we do with them? I know some teachers who introduce these rules to their students. Ok, the /t/ & /d/ endings for the past tense verbs followed by /Id/ is an easy rule to remember but I cannot see the point of introducing the rest to our learners. Are they really going to think about them before they speak? Are they going to go through the process of deciding if the penultimate sound is un/voiced & then remember the rule & then apply it. Highly unlikely.
These are areas where the students have to develop a feel for whether they sound right or not, develop their intuition. However they are rules that we as teachers need to know, as we need to know what is happening & they help us with correcting.


It's World Environment Day on 5th June - here are a few links to materials:

With this....I thee wed - video for WED

And another WED video from

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Looking ahead!

The good listener & reader is constantly making predictions. An example of this is when we sometimes can't keep it to ourselves & have to finish off the other person's sentence.

A: So I was going along Main Street & turned left into

B: Yes, Church Lane.

There are various levels of prediction. Here are some of them:

• Prediction at the cultural level - give the theme of the tape eg. about a member of the Royal Family & the students predict his/her daily life. They then listen/read to confirm.

• Prediction at the discourse-type level - get them to think about what kind of discourse they are going to listen to. eg. a TV political debate - will it be short or long, formal or informal. What kind of language will the expect to hear.

• Prediction at the content level - show the headline or pictures related to the conversation & students predict what it might be about.

• Prediction at the discourse level - play the first part of the tape & the students predict the rest. Or play sections & they predict the next - good for short stories.

• Prediction at the sentence level - play half a sentence/ clause & the students predict the rest.

• Prediction at the grammar level - play a part & predict the grammar that will follow - 'If you keep on doing that, __________'.

• Prediction at the word level - play an utterance& & the students predict the following word - 'the film was in black & _____'.

You might argue that our students are going to do this naturally. Maybe, but awareness does no harm. It is one of the steps that gets them away from tunnelling & gets over the idea that they know quite a lot of what is said or written before they read & listen, & they can save time by becoming more efficient & effective listeners & readers.

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International Museum Day


It's a great feeling to be wandering around a museum with all the time in the world & not knowing what treasure you're going to see next. Museums are usually excellent places & deserving of our full support. So it's 'International Museum Day' on 18th May & the theme for 2010 is 'Museums for Social Harmony'. The theme statement begins:

Museums in the 21st Century are at the cross roads of major transformations in the global economy and environment. They are in a position to address the urgent need for safeguarding cultural diversity and bio-diversity as the common heritage of humanity. The preferred futures across the world are for Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability. Museums have a role to play as mediators in these transformations in promoting social harmony.

To read the remainder of the statement:

Here's the link to the Day's website: It might seem to be a bit of a dry subject to some but it could be fun & easily tie in with units on art, likes/dislikes, discussion etc... Here are a few classroom ideas:

1. A few quotes to discuss:

"You should go to picture-galleries and museums of sculpture to be acted upon, and not to express or try to form your own perfectly futile opinion. It makes no difference to you or the world what you may think of any work of art. That is not the question; the point is how it affects you. The picture is the judge of your capacity, not you of its excellence; the world has long ago passed its judgment upon it, and now it is for the work to estimate you."
Anna C. Brackett (1836–1911), U.S. author. The Technique of Rest, ch. 4 (1892)

"Museums are the cemeteries of the arts"
Alphonse de Lamartine (French poet, writer and statesman, 1790-1869)

"Museums and art stores are also sources of pleasure and inspiration. Doubtless it will seem strange to many that the hand unaided by sight can feel action, sentiment, beauty in the cold marble; and yet it is true that I derive genuine pleasure from touching great works of art. As my finger tips trace line and curve, they discover the thought and emotion which the artist has portrayed."
Helen Keller American author and educator who was blind and deaf. 1880-1968)

"The murals in restaurants are on par with the food in museums."
Peter De Vries

"An ideal museum show would be a mating of Brideshead Revisited with House & Garden. provoking intense and pleasurable nostalgia for a past that none of its audience has had."
Robert Hughes (Australian art critic and author, b.1938)

"I seldom go into a natural history museum without feeling as if I were attending a funeral."
John Burroughs (American essayist and naturalist, 1837-1921)

"Attitudes to museums have changed. If it had Marilyn Monroe’s knickers or Laurence Olivier’s jockstrap they would flock to it."
Jonathan Miller (b. 1936), British doctor, humorist, director.
Daily Telegraph (London, June 7, 1989)

2. Museum discussions - a few questions:

1. Which are the most popular museums in your area?
2. Are museums popular in your country?
2. When was the last time you visited a museum?
3. Was this for a specific exhibition?
4. Which of the following types of museums have you visited?
Art, Online, Military, Transport, Wax, Contemporary
When? Was there an interesting exhibition?
5. Are there any small museums in your area?
6. Can you think of a new museum that would be interesting to have in your area?
7. Do your museums charge for entry? How much?
8. Do you think museums should be free?
9. What are the purposes of museums? Why do we have them?

Also see Alicia's discussion plan at:

3. If your students are art-savvy, they could decide on 10 exhibits that they could have in their ideal museum. Then they could rank them in order of importance to humanity, most popular etc..

4. Students could work out a series of activities to promote Museum Day. The site suggests some activities for this: After working in groups on ideas, they could compare with the ideas on the page & decide on five important action points.

5. Copy lots of paintings, sculptures etc from the internet, let the students decide which to put in their museum. Post the copies on the walls round the classroom, review the language of likes/preferences & let the students take a tour of the museum, discussing the different exhibits.

6. With the same pictures from the net, working on the language of present/past deduction, the students could try to place them in time - it could be from the 17th century....Poss. presented as a competition.

7. Get some brochures & leaflets from local museums for discussion work. If they are in English all the better, but if not, the discussion will be in English. Maybe a short translation task of an excerpt of the brochure as well.

8. Writing - a for/against museums essay, about their favourite painting, letter to the editor.

9. History - if the topic is looking at a period in history, discuss/create a museum of the period.

10. Younger learners could create their own museum by drawing pictures, making things such as robots. This could be a museum for the future to reflect the moment, what they consider important day-to-day at this time in history, so they might draw a Game Boy, skateboard etc..

11. A few links:
Virtual Library - index of museums on the internet.
' Carefully selected artworks of current international contemporary art, featuring Spanish, Asian, American and British paintings, sculptures, prints and photography.'
Yahoo's directory of museums.
'Your First Stop for Art Online! Discover over 100,000 works of contemporary art. Search by medium, subject matter, price and theme... research over 200,000 works by over 22,000 masters in the in depth art history section. Browse through new Art Blogs. Use our new advanced artwork search interface.'
International Council of Museums.;action=list
Unusual museums on the internet.

12. General picture activities & uses:
- using a dramatic but unexplained situation picture, students discuss what happened, is happening, might happen.
- write a narrative to go with the picture.
- write a dialogue.
- write a poem - eg. a haiku
- write caption, slogan etc.
- using the pic as a springboard, students write one line and then hand on to next student to add the next line to the dialogue or narrative to develop a written chain story. At the end each student has a story in front of him that has been made up by the whole class.
- on giving out the pic, the students arrange themselves in the same positions as the characters in the pic and on a sign from the teacher they carry on the action and dialogue from the pic.
- dubbing: using a picture of a person, students brainstorm all questions they can think of to ask him/her  (they could take notes on the questions). Then give the picture to a student who becomes that person. Students then interview student. If other characters are involved as a result of the questions then, as they come up, assign them to another student who answers in that name.
- teacher has one pic covered up & very slowly uncovers it as students make deductions about the content. It might/could/must/can't be.. etc
- think of ten different uses for the objects in the picture.
- interviews with characters in the pic.
- student A has a pic & student B asks questions to discover content of the pic.
- give a different pic to each student, then in groups of four they work out connections between their pics&  then they work out a story.
- to set up situations.
- to promote discussions.
- to use in non-linguistic tasks in reading & listening activities e.g. order pics/choose appropriate  pic/find differences between pic & text/add info to pic.
- to convey moods & attitudes.
- to teach specific language points e.g. pics of people doing things to introduce verbs.
- brainstorm vocabulary.
- pics describing cultural aspects of L2 culture - discussion.
- postcards, a selection at hand is always useful e.g. for prompts in postcard writing, as prompt in  roleplay.
- adverts: students write own/give ad a slogan.
- design the next in the series if ads.
- warmers & games;
- spot the difference: student A has pic & student B has same pic but for 10 differences. Without looking at each others they discover the differences.
- memory: look at pic for one minute, turn over and brainstorm what can remember.
- odd one out: student A has several similar pics, chooses one, and student B asks questions to guess which one he chose.
- doodles: students doodle & then try & explain each others.

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