Teaching Ideas for Word Stress

pronunciation-practice-activities
Pronunciation Practice Activities” by Martin Hewings

So the past few months, I have been focusing more and more on pronunciation for all levels of learners, no matter whether they are young learners or adult learners of English. Anyhow, I tried out a new lesson idea today which was partly inspired from the wonderful book, “Pronunciation Practice Activities“, written by Martin Hewings. I would recommend any teacher worth their salt to purchase this book, as it offers some great pronunciation lesson ideas which could be incorporated into class immediately.

Most teachers would identify word stress with the teaching of new vocabulary or as a technique to support pronunciation for problematic lexical items. This is all well and good but it reminds me of a teacher reacting to issues rather than proactively focusing on areas of language learning. Personally, if a teacher is able to develop a lesson based around pronunciation and developing learners’ awareness of pronunciation, so much the better. There is by no means anything wrong by reacting to pronunciation issues as they arise but I think it would be a nice change of focus when we remind learners that there are some basic principles that they can learn no matter how large or small the lexical item. Nevertheless, lets look at one lesson idea which is published in “Pronunciation Practice Activities“.

The key aim for the lesson it to identify words by their stress patterns and I first introduced this by writing the following on the whiteboard:

  • photograph (Ooo)
  • photography (oOoo)

I asked learners to tell me how many syllables there were in each word and I broke it down by underlining each syllable. Afterwards, I drew small circles above each to illustrate the syllable and then I elicited from students the stress location within the word, rubbed out the corresponding small circle and replaced it with a large circle – look at the stress patterns in brackets next to the words.

The next stage of the lesson was to draw a person, and I named this lady Sarah. I told the students that she travels a lot for business and that she has been several countries over the past few months on business. I wrote up a list of countries in random order on the whiteboard: Estonia, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, and Venezuela. I told students that they need to determine which countries she visited in order by matching it with the corresponding stress pattern. I then drew stress patterns numbered 1-8:

  1. Oo
  2. ooOo
  3. oOoo
  4. oO
  5. O
  6. ooO
  7. Ooo
  8. oOo

I put students into pairs and asked them to match the words to the stress patterns. I monitored the learners and afterwards elicited from the groups each country from 1-8. As I mentioned before, it was the first time that I tried this activity. It worked really well and the students enjoyed the change of pace.

stress-patterns
What words related to ‘countries’ or ‘jobs’ could you write in the table?

As an extension, I decided to draw up a table on the whiteboard, asked learners to work again in pairs and write down some country names within the table (see the image of the table above). I elicited different country names and expected word stress patterns from the class and we all were drilling the pronunciation of country names. As a final activity, we looked at jobs and using the same word stress patterns. It was successful and the learners left the class with a smile on their face.

Finally, I had this idea which I will use in the very future: you could create a flashcard activity whereby students have to match vocabulary with the corresponding stress patterns such as with a flashcard game (pelmanism), calling out a word and having the stress patterns up on the whiteboard and students run up to the whiteboard and then try to grab it before the other team or just using different stress pattern cards and you call out a topic and go round the class, eliciting vocabulary related to the corresponding stress pattern. I could record a future lesson using some of these ideas, so you get a better idea on how you could use these ideas in a future lesson. Food for thought, hey?

Anyhow, over to you now! How do you incorporate word stress in the classroom? Do you have any favourite activities? How do you get learners more aware of word stress?

Real English Lesson: Functional Language

I recorded this lesson at my work of a fellow teacher preparing learners with functional language for debates and expressing points of view. It was a great lesson and I was so grateful being able to observe and record such a valuable lesson. I now thought that I will share this lesson with you all to see how my colleague is able to engage, motivate and support learners during a lesson. Enjoy!

Edit: One reader requested the handout which was used during the lesson. This can be viewed below.

"How Filming Lessons Could Completely Change Professional Development": Modern English Teacher

The latest article published in Modern English Teacher focuses more on the latest filming that I have focused more in the past few months. Have a read to find out a bit more how teachers could film their classes for their own personal CPD as well as sharing ideas with out English teaching professionals from around the world.

Perhaps I should focus on a future article about how to edit and upload a video to a website which promotes video sharing such as YouTube. For example, I have to spend hours editing the video, rendering it, upload it to YouTube and then finally add effects and thumbnails. It takes a lot longer than you think but it is rewarding to see so many people deciding on watching some of the videos.

Have you ever recorded your lessons? What would you do with the material? Would you be happy to share your class with the world?

The Ultimate Way to Get Students Debating

Last Friday, I was fortunate enough to observe one of my colleagues teach her Intermediate class with no material what so ever. She told me that she was going to get her students debating in class. I have always had difficulty getting my students to communicate and I thought it would be a great chance to see how another senior teacher encourages learners to communicate and debate naturally. It was the first time that I had been able to take away some ideas for teaching for next time. What made it even more valuable was that I recorded the lesson with my video camera – with her consent.

What I really found useful was the fact that the teacher did not use any worksheets or handouts and used all the students in class to elicit possible pros and cons for the debate. Here are the stages for preparing learners to debate and follow a similar lesson structure.

  1. Elicit possible statements for agreeing and disagreeing
  2. Board up these statements on one side of the whiteboard
  3. Choose a topic and divide the class in half
  4. One half of the class think of positives of the topic and the other half think of negatives
  5. Pair a student who focuses on positives with a student who focuses on negatives
  6. Get the learners to use the functional language on the whiteboard
  7. Monitor for feedback at the end of the lesson and prompt learners to use the functional language
  8. Stop the debate and then get students to decide who in their group won the debate and why
  9. Repeat the debate again but with a different topic and pair different students together
  10. Provide feedback and end the class

This is a great activity for Pre-Intermediate learners and above. Try it out next time and see whether you got your students speaking. A huge thank you to Lisa for allowing me to record her lesson.

 

How to Teach Dictogloss: Example Video

Earlier this week, I was teaching a wonderful afternoon class of elementary adult learners who were really enthusiastic and engaged. Their enthusiasm and commitment to communicate made up for their lack of language ability. I decided, for their second lesson, to tell them a story and made a dictogloss activity. The main focus for a dictogloss is for students to listen to the story a number of times and then, in a group, to rewrite the story using any of their notes. I was so pleased with their progress and the amount that they had written from my story.

If you are unsure what dictogloss is, then the video below will help how to incorporate into your future lessons.

Have you ever tried dictogloss before? Do you have any questions? If so, don’t hesitate.

Ten Ways to Introduce Target Language

It has been a while since my last post, about two months actually. Apologies it has taken so long for this post but it has been a very busy period for us at LTC Eastbourne with a lot of young learners coming through for the summer school. Nevertheless, this blog post is all about the different ways us teachers could introduce or elicit target language during lessons. The benefit of getting students aware of target language is to activate schemata/schema which essentially means getting students tuned into the language and preparing them for the lesson. For example, if you say to students let’s talk about food, they can predict that the conversation will obviously focus on vocabulary related to food and nothing related to jobs. Anyhow, let’s get started!

1. Antonym Matching

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 14.31.02The usual way to introduce key language is to just write them up on the whiteboard and provide the definition. This, in itself, is rather mundane and predictable. So, to liven things up a little more is to write up the words on pieces of paper all cut up and then write the opposite meanings on different pieces of paper. Get students to match words with their opposite meaning. Not only does it give the learners a chance to think about the target language but it also gets them thinking about corresponding words which have an opposite meaning. An additional idea is to just type up all the target language on one side of paper and their corresponding antonyms on the other side – all mixed up – and then learners have to match it that way.

2. Definition Matching

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 14.47.41A similar activity to above is to write out the target language on one side of a worksheet and the corresponding definition on the other side and get students to match the word with the suitable definition. It is a good activity for learners and it is best to have some learner dictionaries to hand in case students want to check definitions if they are unsure. This activity is also a useful exercise at the end of the lesson for students to review the target language they have acquired during the lesson. An optional activity is to split up the class into two groups, give one half the class the target language to find and write out the definitions from a dictionary on a separate piece of paper and give the other half the class the remaining half of the target language to find in a dictionary. Once they have finished, collect the words and definitions from each group, redistribute the words and definitions and then the groups try to match words and definitions. It is a useful exercise and it would provide an opportunity for students to review language at the end of the class.

3. Unjumble the Words

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 14.32.04A simple and effective way for students to work out the target language is to jumble up all the letters from target language. It is such a popular activity for teachers and it takes little time to prepare for this activity. I just find it easier to write out the target language on a piece of paper and then write out the letters in any order just underneath it. When I go to class, I can refer to this when writing up the jumbled words on the whiteboard. Very simple and then you could then use one of the other ideas in this post to introduce the language to your learners.

4. Missing Vowels

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 14.33.16This is another quick and easy task for learners to focus on and is especially invaluable for Arabic learners of English, due to their weakness of reading and writing in English. It is very easy to do in MS Word and all you need to do is type out a few underscores where the vowels are. It is simple to do, type the word in MS Word and then highlight the vowel by pressing “Shift” and using the arrow keys. Then type the underscore where the vowel is located. Handout the worksheet to learners and give them a time limit to complete. Once learners have finished, you could nominate students to come up to the whiteboard and write out the words, without their worksheet, from memory. Again it places students to focus on the spelling when reviewing the language and you could then use some of the other activities in this post to exploit target language fully.

5. Flashcard Drills

This is one of my most popular activities for introducing target language and one that students also enjoy. You first show a picture or a word and then read it out in a clear voice and then get students to repeat. All students could repeat or you could nominate particular students to repeat. Another activity is to sit in a circle, select a flashcard, speak the word or phrase, pass the card to another and then that student repeats the word or phrase. The flashcard is then passed around the circle of students until it arrives back to you. This activity could be sped up by passing the flashcards to students on your left and on your right, with learners trying to keep up with saying the target language and all the flashcards being passed around.

6. Stress Patterns

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 14.32.08An alternative activity is to write out the target language that you would like to introduce and then determine where the stress is placed within the word. You then create a table with the different stress patterns and ask students to complete the table by placing the words under the corresponding stress pattern. It is a useful activity which could then lead on nicely to a pronunciation focus with target language.

7. Phonemic Words

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 14.39.37Another activity to focus on pronunciation is to write out the phonemic script for target language to get learners to become more aware how words are pronounced. It is also a great idea to get students thinking about how they would spell these words and they will start to see patterns with vowel sounds and the spelling of these. The teacher could first introduce the words one-by-one with the use of flashcards – and using idea 5 above – or the teacher could place all words on the whiteboard and nominate students to pronounce selected words. It is a quick and easy activity and it does not take a lot of preparation for this activity.

8. Lost in Translation

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 14.41.11I like this activity and used it a long time ago when I first started teaching elementary learners. I first translated target language into Korean and then asked students to try to find a suitable translation in English – this is called back translation and quite effective. Learners could use their mobile devices and electronic dictionaries to translate the target language. You may find that learners will discover synonyms of target language. A different activity which involves translation could include translating the target language in the learners’ first language and also having the language in English, on separate pieces of paper, and getting learners to match the translated words with the corresponding Korean words. Translation goes a long way and can be useful for students wondering what the language is in their first language or the other way round.

9. Disappearing Words

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 14.44.37A previous colleague of mine, Pete Clements, from LTC Eastbourne demonstrated this activity to me a few years ago and I was quick to use this in class afterwards. Essentially, what you do is write up all the words around the whiteboard, drill the language, explain the definition of the key language. You then tell students to close their books – if they were making any notes of the target language and their definitions – and tell them that they have one minute to remember as many words as possible. You then draw a circle around all words or phrases, point to it and students say the word. You slowly erase the words, keeping the circles that you drew around the word and then point to it. Students have to recall the word from memory and you then start to remove more and more words, so in the end all you have is a blank whiteboard with circles around missing words or phrases. It is up to the students to remember as many key words or phrases that they can remember and it is an engaging activity for all learners no matter their age.

10. Wordsearch

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 13.41.51This is a wonderful activity that I like to do either as a vocabulary review or an introduction, particularly for young learners. It is easy to create a wordsearch, all you have to do is search for the term ‘Wordsearch Maker’ in Google and you will be directed to various different websites dedicated to the creation of word search puzzles. However, I would recommend the Teachers Direct website as a tool to create puzzles for language learners. It is wonderfully simple to create and all you have to do is to type out the target language in the website. This activity lends itself well to non-romanic language learners such as those that are Arabic or Asian speakers as they must get used to the spelling of the English language.


There you have it, all 10 ideas for introducing target language in the classroom. What are your favourite ways to introduce language in the classroom? Do you have any additional ideas? Why not share your 10 ideas? Thanks for reading and I hope you get some of these ideas into the classroom in the future.

First Lessons: Ten GTKY Ideas

You are probably wondering what on earth “GTKY” means.  Well, put simply, it means “Get To Know You”.  You usually teach your first lessons with similar activities so that you can get to know your students.  Nevertheless, every teacher, whether they are young learner teachers or adult teachers, have to deal with the fact that they are going to be meeting some new students on a regular occasion.  I don’t know about you, but for me I feel slightly nervous when meeting a new class of students and I usually have several thoughts running through my head during this time: “Will these students like my lessons?”, “I wonder what the students are going to be like.”, “What lessons will my students respond to?”, etc.  This post looks at ten lesson ideas to instantly develop rapport, learn more about your students as well as help you relax in first lessons.


1. True or False?

This is one of my favourite activities that I like to start with my first lessons.  I write up three sentences up on the whiteboard about myself and usually in this order:

  • I have lived in 6 different countries. (true: France, Germany, Cyprus, Korea, Romania and the UK)
  • I can read and write Korean. (true: usually quite badly though)
  • I am 34 years old. (false: a bit of a surprise to some I imagine but I am actually 35 years old)

I get students to discuss in pairs/small groups which sentences they think are true and which is false.  I mention that there is only one false sentence whilst there are two true sentences about myself.  I almost always write the false sentence about my age as I like to hear how young, but mostly, how old the students believe I am.  It is always nice to hear that students believe that I am 30 years old but I try to forget those thoughts that some students think that I am much older.

This is a wonderful little activity you can do first to the students and generates great rapport with all in the classroom.  After demonstrating the activity, you could get students to create their own true or false sentences about themselves.  Students love for you to learn a bit more about them as well.

2. Student Posters (Young Learners)

If you are teaching young learners, then you could get students to create a poster about themselves.  I usually demonstrate about myself with the learners and bring in a prepared poster with my name on the top on the A4 piece of paper and then other pieces of information.  I show this to all the students and ask students to create their own posters about themselves.  This art activity is really not suitable for adult learners so I would recommend that you don’t do this with them.  Additional information you may wish for students to add could be written on the board so that students have a good what they would like write.  For example, you could include the following:

  • Family
  • Sports & Hobbies
  • Likes & Dislikes
  • School
  • Pets

Students could also include images with their posters but you could also get students to create a digital version of their poster.  If your school has a class set of iPads or a dedicated Computer Room, then you could get students to create their own posters with access to their Facebook, etc.  Tablets and laptops will help with the creation of a digitised version of the student posters.

3. Five Fingers

On the whiteboard, draw round your hand.  For each finger write down information about interests or alike.  For example, you could include the following information for each finger:

  • A number which is important to you.
  • An important or personal place that you have visited.
  • A name of a person who is important to you.
  • The name of a sport or hobby that you enjoy.
  • The name of a song that you enjoy listening to.

Once you have demonstrated the activity on the whiteboard, get students to do the same activity on a spare piece of paper.  Get students to trace round their hand and then include information about themselves.  Get students to share information about themselves and get them to ask and answer questions.  When you are monitoring, you will be able to assess ability, possible language problems to remedy in a future lesson as well as provide some error correction at the end of the lesson.

4. Adjective Names

For this first lesson icebreaker, you will need a small sponge football and obviously some students.  It is a wonderful lesson to remember names.  Get students to stand in a circle and then pass the ball to a student and say their name but precede it with an adjective that starts with the same letter of the name.  For example, with my name “Martin”, you could think of “Magical Martin”.  If it is “Julio”, then it could be “Jealous Julio”.  It is probably best to explain this via the whiteboard initially.  If students have a problem thinking of a suitable adjective, then they have to sit down.  The person that remains standing at the end of the activity is the winner.  This GTKY activity is a wonderful chance for you to remember names, get the students to think of suitable adjectives as well as have a bit of fun for the first lesson.  It is possibly best suited for a strong Pre-Intermediate group of learners.

5. Creative Name Cards

One of the most important things to consider when you are teaching a new class for the week, month or term is learning the names of students.  One way is to get students to make their own name cards which could be displayed from their desks and then brought to future classes.  If you are anyway as bad as I am with names and faces, it always does help if you have student name cards to hand which you could glance to when you have a sudden moment of uncertainty.  To make them a bit more creative, you could ask students to draw things which are important to them (ideas could include numbers of importance, hobbies, family, etc).  It is all a good conversational starter and it will prompt learners to share experiences with each other (hopefully in English).

6. Find Somebody Who …

This is possibly the most common get to know you (GTKY) activity which has been used by language teachers the world over.  It was used in my university when I started my undergraduate degree.  It is simple really and you can create your own worksheet for this.  You get students to find out about each other and is best used when learners don’t really know about the other students in the classroom.  You can get students to find someone in the class who:

  • has met a famous person; or
  • has more than one pet at home; or
  • can play a musical instrument; etc

It is very simple and you can collect the worksheets after the activity that could be analysed afterwards so that you can then learn a bit more about your students.  A template of this simple activity is attached to this blog post so feel free to download it and incorporate it into future lessons.

7. Who Am I?

This is an interesting activity does require a little preparation but nothing too time consuming.  Cut up strips of paper and say to students that they need to write an interesting sentence about themselves: “I have a younger brother and an older sister” and students should not write their name on their strip of paper.  It is probably best to tell students to write at least no more than four sentences (with each sentence on a strip of paper).  You mix up all the student contributions and then pick one up and read it to the class and students have to guess who wrote the sentence.  It is an interesting activity and at the end of it, you could get students to recall anything that they can remember about their peers.

8. The Questions

Have a think about some common questions you usually ask when you meet a person for the first time (What’s your name?, Where are you from?, etc), but before you write anything on the whiteboard try to think of personal information about yourself and write this on the board.  This could include the following as an example:

  • 35 (How old are you?)
  • Maidstone (Where were you born?)
  • Germany, Cyprus, Romania, France and South Korea (Which countries have you lived in?)

Students then have to guess the questions (correct questions above in brackets) for the answers above and go through the first answer as a demonstration with the whole class together so students are aware what they have to do.  Get students to work together in small groups and so that they can check their answers, then work as a whole class and get some suggested questions for the answers and board these up.  You could then get students to find out about their partners/small groups with the boarded questions which could prompt them.

9. Classroom Rules

It is always a good opportunity to set the scene for students with rules, particularly for younger learners who are aged between 12 to 16 years of age.  This activity is suitable however could be used with any students no matter the age.  First you ask students to think of what they “Can” and “Cannot (Can’t)” do in the classroom and split up the board in half.  Learners walk up to the board and then write up their own ideas for each section.  Common ideas suggested include; “Only speak English”, “No mobile phones”, etc.  Once you have a lot of ideas boarded up, you could give the whole class a piece of A3 paper and ask students to create a Classroom Rule Poster which could be stuck up in the classroom and referred to in the future.  For example, if students are chatting in their L1, I remind them that they suggested that they should only speak in English and point to the poster.  It is a reminder and less authoritarian in its application as all ideas come from the students in the first lesson.

10. Guess Who We Were?

The final GTKY lesson idea is probably one of the best if you are able to organise it effectively. This first lesson idea has been done in our school before with our young learner classes.  It does require a little preparation and you do need some access to photos which could be scanned but with most teachers being on Facebook, you have access to half the material required (hopefully).  First ask all teachers/staff to bring in a really old photo of themselves as a baby or young child and a recent photo.  Scan these photos and create a worksheet where students have to match the corresponding photo of the baby/child to the more recent photograph.  Students work in groups and coordinate together.  It is a fun activity which is aimed at relaxing students in the classroom and you could extend it by getting students to create a similar worksheet or presentation and getting the teacher to guess which photo is connected to the student in the classroom.


What are your favourite get to know you activities?  Do you have a different first lesson warmer/icebreaker?  Have you tried any of the lesson ideas suggested and how was it?