Experiences of an English Language Teacher

Episode 6: How To Teach Connected Speech

One of the most difficult aspects of teaching pronunciation in the classroom is connected speech. It is difficult to know exactly how to incorporate some elements of practise to raise learner awareness of this area of pronunciation and it took me a number of years to develop confidence. In the following video below, I share three teaching idea associated with teaching connected speech. You are more than welcome to include the following ideas with your students.

I have also made a video below to help you better understand how you could also use connected speech in the classroom. It would be great if you could watch this video and leave a Like. If you haven’t subscribed, please Subscribe to my YouTube Channel.

Teaching Idea 1: How Many Words

I like to raise student awareness of connected speech by doing a simple dictation exercise. I explain to students that I am going to read out ten sentences or questions twice at natural speed and all they have to do is count the number of words within each utterance. If you use contractions, I give them some leeway with regards to counting them as either one or two words. They then write down how many words that they hear, before sharing their answers with a partner. You could read out the following but obviously grade the language at a suitable level:

  1. What have you been up to recently?
  2. I went to the library to study.
  3. I saw Phil when he was shopping.
  4. What did you get up to at the weekend?
  5. I’ve been to Italy twice.
  6. What are you doing this evening?
  7. Do you fancy meeting up for a coffee?
  8. I’m going to have an ice cream.
  9. If I knew it was raining, I would have brought an umbrella.
  10. Would you mind closing the window?

Once they have shared their answers, I tell learners that they are going to listen to each utterance twice again and they need to write down each sentence or question. Once they have written down the ten utterances, they then compare with a partner and then we elicit these as a whole class.

At this point, I like to highlight how the words merge and blend together at natural speed. I highlight on the board the words that connect together and then I get learners to think if they can create their own phrases sharing their own ideas of connected speech. It is a simple task but it really does raise learner awareness of this area of pronunciation.


Teaching Idea 2: Word Blending

I was only introduced to this teaching idea a few weeks ago when I decided to focus a bit more on connected speech and as it was so successful, I wanted to share this with you. Make sure you have the following written down on a piece of paper:

  • loadsa (loads of)
  • p’haps (perhaps)
  • ‘cos (because)
  • gimme (give me)
  • kinda (kind of)
  • hasta (has to)
  • dunno (don’t know)
  • s’pose (suppose)
  • ‘cept (except)
  • ’em (them)

I tell students that I am going to dictate some natural phrases that speakers of English include when speaking and that they must write down what they hear. I explain that it isn’t important to focus on spelling. Each phrase is repeated twice and then I get students to share their answers with each other.

I elicit possible answers, complementing wherever necessary, and then share the actual answers. I give out each of the phrases above to the students and tell them that they need to work out what the words might be. If they are having trouble, you could hand out a worksheet with full sentences (see below) and they have to match them to the phrases above.

  1. She has to do her homework for tomorrow.
  2. Have you seen them?
  3. I don’t know how to complete this exercise.
  4. I bet he’s got loads of money.
  5. Could you give me the pen?
  6. It’s kind of naughty of him.
  7. I suppose it’s a long journey.
  8. I have to work hard because I need the money.
  9. Perhaps it’s not worth doing.
  10. They are open everyday, except Sunday.

Once students have finished matching phrases to the sentences above, you could drill and correct pronunciation wherever necessary. As an extension, you could students to try to create their own sentences using the phrases.

*This teaching idea was based on The Book of Pronunciation (p.102), Comic effect, but amended slightly to incorporate sentences and a matching task.


Teaching Idea 3: Word Combinations

Just with the activity below, which was inspired and evolved from a task in The Book of Pronunciation, the final task, which focuses on connected speech, is based on Nothing a tall (p.106) and again has been slightly amended to prompt a more student centred approach. In this task, I hand out the following words to each pair or small group of students, all cut up:

  1. tin
  2. call
  3. turn
  4. pin
  5. nice
  6. doubt
  7. run
  8. tall
  9. rate
  10. Paul

I explain to the learners that they don’t need to know the meaning of the words but practise saying them. I check as a class and then do some choral drilling. Once complete, I hand out the following sentences or questions to students below and ask learners to try to match certain parts of the sentences or questions to certain individual words above. 

Student Sentences:

  1. She knows nothing at all about this.
  2. I fancy having an ice cream now.
  3. Put your coat in the wardrobe, please.
  4. You might earn more if you worked harder.
  5. Steve called out the answer.
  6. Do you know when the number eight bus will be here?
  7. He took all the money with him.
  8. Look up all the words in the dictionary.
  9. David will help in anyway possible.
  10. They’re under the tree, yeah?

Make sure all the sentences are cut up. I demonstrate one match so learners are aware of what is required: ‘She knows nothing at all about this’ > ‘tall’. Once learners are aware, leave students to work in their pairs or small groups.

A variation of this is not to hand out the sentences or questions to the students but just hand out the individual words and tell them that you are going to read the utterances at natural speed. They need to listen and when they hear the word, put the word in the air. Demonstrate the first sentence as an example.

Teacher Worksheet & Answers:

  1. She knows nothing at all about this. (tall)
  2. I fancy having an ice cream now. (nice)
  3. Put your coat in the wardrobe, please. (tin)
  4. You might earn more if you worked harder. (turn)
  5. Steve called out the answer. (doubt)
  6. Do you know when the number eight bus will be here? (rate)
  7. He took all the money with him. (call)
  8. Look up all the words in the dictionary. (Paul)
  9. David will help in anyway possible. (pin)
  10. They’re under the tree, yeah? (run)

Monitor and read out each sentence at natural speed. Focus on the individual words and area of the connected speech. This will raise awareness and you can then get students to repeat the phrases after you.

Many thanks and I hope the following ideas have been useful. Please feel free to use some of the ideas suggested in class and see how students respond to the activities. How do you like to incorporate connected speech in the classroom? Do you have any favourite activities?

As mentioned before, The Book of Pronunciation is a wonderful resource and I would recommend anyone to invest in a copy. It is an absolute life-saver.

Happy Teaching! ? 


  1. Enjoyed that one Sketch, good tips. I remember when you introduced me to the Book of Pronunciation – changed my teaching!

    • Martin Sketchley

      Thanks Pete. It’s one of my favourite books and have already shared it with colleagues at my new place of work. Hope you are doing well and great lesson ideas that you are sharing.

  2. Elborg

    Thank you for these great tips! I got The Book of Pronunciation several years ago, and it’s one of my favourite resources.

  3. Hi Martin
    Thank you for a wonderful activity to practise connected speech! I’m creating a Listening course for students and will use this activity to help my students in this area.

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