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Лекция 3:

Pronunciation, Stress and Intonation

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THE ELEMENTS OF PRONUNCIATION.

Pronunciation is understood to include:-

  • intonation
  • stress (on words and in sentences)
  • phonology (the sounds of the language)

Not all textbooks agree that the concept of pronunciation should be taught in this order although the sounds produced in individual words should come without too much difficulty if intonation and stress are focussed upon within the structure of a sentence or phrase.

Mastering ‘pronunciation’ as a feature of English involves students in three main areas:

‘Awareness’ exercises means listening to differences in intonation or differences between words. You can listen out for the mood of a speaker or you can listen for differences in words bet/bit/bat

‘Independence’ exercises help students to learn things for themselves and include teaching them how to use a dictionary, the phonemic chart and about patterns in words.

‘Mouth’ exercises are when students say something themselves in order to practice the sounds physically - to practice moving their mouth into the right shape..

You should integrate A, I and M exercises into your work. Learners may still have bad pronunciation even when they are quite advanced learners in terms of their good grammatical knowledge and wide vocabulary. Make learning fun so they are not shy!

A I M to teach pronunciation. A little bit every day, every lesson.

a) INTONATION

Intonation is to do with how you say a word or phrase rather than what you say. Speakers can change the pitch of their voice making it higher or lower as and when required. Thus intonation is the 'music' of speech which can convey various feelings or attitudes such as surprise, curiosity, boredom, politeness, abruptness etc. It is important for the speaker to convey his appropriate feelings at the time otherwise an incorrect impression might be gained by the listener and confusion or offence might be caused. Intonation is also used for the more mundane job of showing whether a speaker has finished speaking or not.

It is difficult to learn the rules of intonation as English has a wide intonation range compared with other languages; nevertheless students should be encouraged to acquire them naturally rather than to consciously learn them.

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When teaching English to students with little experience of the language, teachers should note that there are two basic intonation patterns:

The rising tone which is used in questions expecting a yes/no response or to express surprise, disbelief etc. The voice rises sharply on the stressed syllable.

eg The single word - Really? expects a yes/no response

As does:-

Did you see the Queen?

Would you like a scone?

The rising tone is also used mid-sentence to show that the speaker has not finished speaking - for example in listing:

I bought potatoes, mangoes and carrots

The falling tone is used for statements, commands and for wh... questions. The voice rises sharply earlier in the sentence and then falls on the key word being stressed.

eg How's your brother?

Stand back!

Two returns to Bristol, please.

As we said above, it is also used for indicating when a speaker is finishing what he/she has to say.

In repetition activities there are two main techniques of demonstrating falling and rising tones: the first is by gesture using arm and hand movements, the teacher taking care that the student will observe each movement starting on the left and finishing on the right; the second is simply by drawing arrows on the blackboard after the sentence or phrase, thus \ or /.

STRESS

Stress refers to the emphasis we place on the syllable of a word (word stress) or on (a) word(s) within a sentence (sentence stress). It presents great difficulty for the foreign learner of English.

Unlike a language such as Spanish, there are no easy rules in governing where the stress falls on a word. We have all made mistakes ourselves when pronouncing a word we have not seen or heard before. A native speaker can only work from experience with similar words but is not always guided towards correct pronunciation.

SENTENCE STRESS

If we take the average sentence or utterance in English we will find stressed and unstressed words. The speaker will demonstrate the words that are of most importance to the listener by stressing them more, ie by making them more audible. For example, in the sentence

"I've lost my wallet!"

the words which are of most importance are 'lost' and 'wallet' and they will therefore be stressed. It also helps to remember that NEW information is stressed in a sentence. Shared information is not:

Look at this sentence:

Mary’s given birth to a girl!

The sex of the new baby is the new information. The fact that the baby is Mary’s is already shared by both speakers and is not stressed.

However:

Mary’s given birth to a girl.

In this case the birth of a girl baby is known about already but some wrong information has been given and the speaker is correcting- giving NEW information that the baby in fact belongs to Mary not anyone else.

English makes ample use of stress in order to point to a context. You can ask the same question but can place the stress on different words depending on which fact you would like to have confirmed or denied.

eg Is Bernard going to France in July? (Stress on Bernard)

No, Zoe is.

Is Bernard going to France in July? (Stress on France)

No, he's going to Belgium.

Is Bernard going to France in July? (Stress on July)

No, he's going in August.

There are various ways of marking where the stress falls in a sentence or a word. Some E.S.O.L. teachers draw small squares above the place where the stress falls. For written exercises you could mark the stressed syllable in bold or underline where the stress falls.

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As already stated, in English we place stress on the most important parts of the sentence or message we wish to be conveyed. The unstressed part of the sentence is more difficult to catch so the foreign learner has to train his ear to pick up the less important part of the message so he/she can fully understand what is being said.

English is often referred to as a 'stress-timed' language. This means that the length of time between the stressed syllables is always about the same. The greater the number of unstressed syllables between those that are stressed, the quicker the unstressed syllables are uttered.

eg He gave a speech.

He gave a short speech.

He gave a very short speech.

In each sentence, the unstressed syllables ( 'a', 'a short', 'a very short' ) took about the same amount of time to say, so 'a very short' had to be said more quickly.

However, there are times when normally unstressed words are stressed for obvious reasons:-

eg Bill and George are coming to the party (stressing that George is to be included in the party guest list).

'And' and lots of other small words or weak forms (listed below) are habitually unstressed within the structure of a sentence unless used in isolation.

Unstressed words in speech do not always retain their original pronunciation.

Vowels change into different forms (see the next section).

Consonant clusters get pushed together and even left out without us losing the meaning of the word.

Read these two sentences aloud and listen to the change in the words

last chance’ which contain 3 consonant sounds in the middle - ‘s’ ‘t’ and ‘ch’. In the second sentence they are not pronounced clearly and separately because the words are not stressed.

John, your last chance to hand in your work is tomorrow.

But your last chance, Peter, was yesterday!

WEAK FORMS

Prepositions:- at, to, of, for, from

Auxiliary and modal verbs: be, been, am, is, are, was, were, have, has, had, do, does, shall, should, will, would, can, could, must

Pronouns: me, he, him, his, she, we, us, you, your, them

Others: who, that (as a relative pronoun), a, an, the, some, and, but, as, than, there, not

The sound produced in the weak form is called 'shwa' and is represented by the phonemic symbol as seen on the phonemic script chart at the end of this unit, like a back to front upside down ‘e’. The sound is the one that needs the minimum effort from your mouth - a sort of small grunt. Full vowels would take too much effort and time to say in connected speech and slow it down. So the schwa is the ‘default’ sound to help the speaker progress at speed.

Practise these examples. The weak forms are selected.

Take a look at it.

It's for you.

I was here yesterday.

We must go.

Stress-timing is a noticeable characteristic of the spoken language. By getting used to hearing English spoken with a natural rhythm in class, students will find it easier to understand real English beyond the confines of the classroom. It will take some time however, for the students themselves to produce this sort of language so they need a lot of time and every encouragement in this endeavour.

If you have a tape recorder or other means of recording your own voice, then try reading a short paragraph from any piece of writing, fiction or non-fiction and listen to how you ‘elide’ - slip together - the words as you are reading at normal speed. If English is not your first language and you might read slowly and carefully, then you can also listen to yourself reading in your own language. All languages have a rhythm.

SOUNDS OF THE LANGUAGE/PHONOLOGY

It is important when teaching students new vocabulary to indicate where the stress falls. With the majority there is no argument

eg programme completely lesson intention

Remember, the stressed syllable is longer and more audible.

With other words there is disagreement on pronunciation, sometimes depending on your origins.

eg harass and harass (American origin)

advertisement and advertisement (localised northern pronunciation)

Carlisle and Carlisle (local pronunciation)

At other times it is essential to differentiate:

eg invalid (noun = incapacitated person )

invalid (adjective = cannot be accepted)

Unstressed syllables are often pronounced as shwa (see chart) regardless of spelling. It is the vowel sound many British people make when hesitating in speech, spelt as 'uh' or 'er'. Here are some examples:-

Occupations: teacher, driver, doctor, sailor

Comparatives: longer, bigger, better

Beginning with 'a': ago, about, along

Ending in : '-ory', '-ary : factory, library

Ending : '-ion', '-ian' : nation, Egyptian

Ending : '-man' : woman

Days: Sunday, etc.

Plurals: horses, matches etc.

Third person endings: washes etc.

Superlatives: shortest, fastest etc.

Ending '-age', '-ege' : luggage, language, college

Beginning 'be-', 're-' : begin, reply

VOWELS AND CONSONANTS

All sounds, whether they are made by a vowel or a consonant are represented by a phonemic symbol (see chart) to enable the native as well as the foreign speaker to pronounce words correctly. The same letters or combination of letters can make a different sound eg a word such as 'the' is pronounced differently according to whether a vowel or a consonant follows. Compare the pronunciation of 'the' before 'book' with 'the' before 'apple'.

In English there are variations in the pronunciation of the same vowels

eg contrast

hat - hard

bed - beer

bid - bird

dog - do - ford

cut - cute - could

As you can see from this, different letters can be pronounced in an identical way : note the case of 'do' and 'cute'.

There are two types of vowel in English: those represented by the phonemic symbols above are monothongs meaning that the vowel sound consists of one phoneme. (A phoneme is the smallest unit of speech) There are also diphthongs which are often recognised by two vowels together, but not always.

'Beer' contains a diphthong, where you experience a gradual change in lip and tongue position during the making of the sound. 'Bay' is another example, it is monosyllabic but has two phonemes.

In all there are 20 vowel sounds and 24 consonant sounds compared with, for example, Japanese and Spanish that have only 5 vowel sounds.

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Dictionaries, both monolingual and good bilingual, clearly mark both stress and pronunciation on words. You should use one to check anything you are not sure of and should work with your students to make sure they

  • have a dictionary (!)
  • know how to use it effectively!

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BEING A PRONUNCIATION TEACHER

As a teacher you should know the phonemic chart, have it on the wall of the classroom and know how to use it when you use the dictionary. You can find the phonemic chart at the front or the back of any good English dictionary.

Have a standard technique for marking the word stress of new words on your board work:

poTAto and postcard

Be aware of what a ‘schwa’ sound is. This will help your students to imitate natural speech.

Be aware of what a ‘schwa’ sound is. This will help your students to imitate natural speech.

Think carefully every lesson about when and how you are going to spend a little time on the sounds of English. Remember: AIM

Here are some top tips on how you can includesound’ work in your lessons:

  • Use the phonemic symbols next to new words on the board. If you do not know them, then start now! Mark the stress of all new words on the board and in handouts. PoTAto
  • Use clapping and rhythmic tapping to show sentence stress and make all the students say the sentence IN TIME with you. This gives the sentence the correct rhythm.
  • Have students practice saying short phrases (perhaps from a coursebook dialogue) in different ways:

    eg Can I help you? (smiling, bored, angry, nervous) and discuss how the intonation changes.

  • Have students do speak and write activities with word cards in pairs and groups.
  • Dictate short phrases to students at normal speed and have them write them down in order to show them how elision and rhythm work.
  • Use simple poetry to highlight rhythm and stress - it is also fun!
  • Make pronunciation a game - exaggerate the pronunciation of new words and phrases and have students do the same so that they are no longer embarrassed.
  • Use the dictionary to find out how things are pronounced - you can turn this into a research and pronounce game in teams.
  • Introduce new words in groups -ation words, for example, and highlight and practice the common word stress pattern and pronunciation.

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USING DIALOGUES

Many coursebooks have dialogues so make sure you use them.

Before the lesson starts, see if there is a good intonation pattern on one phrase in the dialogue. Choose a few phrases that you would like them to say well. Can the students copy them?

Make sure that you have a good model for the dialogues you present. Most coursebooks have a recording to listen to, so use it. Do not have the students reading the dialogue aloud before they hear it.

If you set up information gap activities - where students have to give each other information such as directions to a place on a map or information about opening times of a museum - make sure that they are trying to speak clearly and checking if their listener has understood. Encourage students to say things like ‘I’m sorry I didn’t catch that’, and repeat the instructions back to whoever gave them, not revert to Arabic. These are communication strategies and are very important.

Add a pronunciation corner to your lesson plan aims and you will soon see the difference in your classes! Try these self check exercises.

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Now consider the following extract:

Teaching pronunciation

Pronunciation teaching not only makes students aware of different sounds and sound features (and what these mean), but can also improve their speaking immeasurably. Concentrating on sounds, showing where they are made in the mouth, making students aware of where words should be stressed - all these things give them extra information about spoken English and help them achieve the goal of improved comprehension and intelligibility.

In some particular cases, pronunciation help allows students to get over serious intelligibility problems. Joan Kerr, a speech pathologist, described (in a paper at the 1998 ELICOS conference in Melbourne, Australia) how she was able to help a Cantonese speaker of English achieve considerably greater intelligibility by working on his point of articulation - changing his focus of resonance. Whereas many Cantonese vowels occur towards the back of the mouth, English ones are frequently articulated nearer the front or in the centre of the mouth. The moment you can get Cantonese speakers, she suggested, to bring their vowels further forward, increased intelligibility occurs. With other language groups it may be an issue of nasality (e.g. Vietnamese) or the degree to which speakers do or do not open their mouths. Some language groups may have particular intonation or stress patterns in phrases and sentences which sound strange when replicated in English, and there are many individual sounds which cause difficulty for speakers of various different first languages.

For all these people, being made aware of pronunciation issues will be of immense benefit not only to their own production, but also to their understanding of spoken English.

Perfection versus intelligibility

A question we need to answer is how good our students' pronunciation ought to be. Should they sound exactly like speakers of a prestige variety of English so that just by listening to them we would assume that they were British, American, Australian or Canadian? Or is this asking too much? Perhaps their teacher's pronunciation is the model they should aspire to. Perhaps we should be happy if they can at least make themselves understood.

The degree to which students acquire 'perfect' pronunciation seems to depend very much on their attitude to how they speak and how well they hear. In the case of attitude, there are a number of psychological issues which may well affect how 'foreign' a person sounds when they speak English. Some students, as Vicky Kuo suggests, want to be exposed to a 'native speaker' variety, and will strive to achieve pronunciation which is indistinguishable from that of a first language English speaker. Other students, however, do not especially want to sound like 'inner circle' speakers; frequently they wish to be speakers of English as an international or global language and this does not necessarily imply trying to sound exactly like someone from Britain or Canada. It may imply sounding more like their teacher, whatever variety he or she speaks. Frequently, too, students want to retain their own accent when they speak a foreign language because that is part of their identity. Thus speaking English with, say, a Mexican accent is fine for the speaker who wishes to retain his or her 'Mexican-ness' when speaking in a foreign language.

Under the pressure of such personal, political and phonological considerations it has become customary for language teachers to consider intelligibility as the prime goal of pronunciation teaching. This implies that the students should be able to use pronunciation which is good enough for them to be always understood. If their pronunciation is not up to this standard, then clearly there is a serious danger that they will fail to communicate effectively.

If intelligibility is the goal, then it suggests that some pronunciation features are more important than others. Some sounds, for example, have to be right if the speaker is to get their message across, though others may not cause a lack of intelligibility if they are used interchangeably. In the case of individual sounds, a lot depends on the context of the utterance, which frequently helps the listener to hear what the speaker intends. However, stressing words and phrases correctly is vital if emphasis is to be given to the important parts of messages and if words are to be understood correctly. Intonation is a vital carrier of meaning; by varying the pitch of our voice we indicate whether we are asking a question or making a statement, whether we are enthusiastic or bored, or whether we want to keep talking or whether, on the contrary, we are inviting someone else to come into the conversation.

The fact that we may want our students to work towards an intelligible pronunciation rather than achieve an L1-speaker perfection may not appeal to all, however. Despite what we have said about identity and the global nature of English (and the use of ELF), some students do indeed wish to sound exactly like a native speaker. In such circumstances it would be absurd to try to deny them such an objective.

Problems

Two particular problems occur in much pronunciation teaching and learning.

What students can hear: some students have great difficulty hearing pronunciation features which we want them to reproduce. Frequently, speakers of different first languages have problems with different sounds, especially where, as with Ibl and Ivl for Spanish speakers, their language does not have the same two sounds. If they cannot distinguish between them, they will find it almost impossible to produce the two different English phonemes. There are two ways of dealing with this: in the first place, we can show students how sounds are made through demonstration, diagrams and explanation. But we can also draw the sounds to their attention every time they appear on a recording or in our own conversation. In this way we gradually train the students' ears. When they can hear correctly, they are on the way to being able to speak correctly.

What students can say: all babies are born with the ability to make the whole range of sounds available to human beings. But as we grow and focus in on one or two languages, we lose the habit of making some of those sounds. Learning a foreign language often presents us with the problem of physical unfamiliarity (i.e. it is actually physically difficult to make the sound using particular parts of the mouth, uvula or nasal cavity). To counter this problem, we need to be able to show and explain exactly where sounds are produced (e.g. Where is the tongue in relation to the teeth? What is the shape of the lips when making a certain vowel?) .

The intonation problem: for many teachers the most problematic area of pronunciation is intonation. Some of us (and many of our students) find it extremely difficult to hear tunes or to identify the different patterns of rising and falling tones. In such situations it would be foolish to try to teach them. However, the fact that we may have difficulty recognising specific intonation tunes does not mean that we should abandon intonation teaching altogether. Most of us can hear when someone is surprised, enthusiastic or bored, or when they are really asking a question rather than just confirming something they already know. One of our tasks, then, is to give students opportunities to recognise such moods and intentions either on an audio track or through the way we ourselves model them. We can then get students to imitate the way these moods are articulated, even though we may not (be able to) discuss the technicalities of the different intonation patterns themselves.

The key to successful pronunciation teaching, however, is not so much getting students to produce correct sounds or intonation tunes, but rather to have them listen and notice how English is spoken - either on audio or video or by their teachers themselves. The more aware they are, the greater the chance that their own intelligibility levels will rise.

Phonemic symbols: to use or not to use?

It is perfectly possible to work on the sounds of English without ever using any phonemic symbols. We can get students to hear the difference, say, between sheep and cheap or between ship and sheep just by saying the words enough times. There is no reason why this should not be effective. We can also describe how the sounds are made (by demonstrating, drawing pictures of the mouth and lips or explaining where the sounds are made).

However, since English is bedevilled, for many students, by an apparent lack of sound and spelling correspondence (though in fact most spelling is highly regular and the number of exceptions fairly small), it may make sense for them to be aware of the different phonemes, and the clearest way of promoting this awareness is to introduce the symbols for them.

There are other reasons for using phonemic symbols, too. Paper dictionaries usually give the pronunciation of headwords in phonemic symbols. If students can read such symbols, they can know how the word is said even without having to hear it. Online and CD-ROM dictionaries have recordings of words being said, of course.

When both teacher and students know the symbols, it is easier to explain what mistake has occurred and why it has happened; we can also use the symbols for pronunciation tasks and games.

Some teachers complain that learning symbols places an unnecessary burden on students. For certain groups this may be true, and the level of strain is greatly increased if they are asked to write in phonemic script (Newton 1999). But if they are only asked to recognise rather than produce the different symbols, then the strain is not so great, especially if they are introduced to the various symbols gradually rather than all at once.

When to teach pronunciation

Just as with any aspect of language - grammar, vocabulary, etc. - teachers have to decide when to include pronunciation teaching in lesson sequences. There are a number of alternatives to choose from.

Whole lessons: some teachers devote whole lesson sequences to pronunciation, and some schools timetable pronunciation lessons at various stages during the week. Though it would be difficult to spend a whole class period working on one or two sounds, it can make sense to work on connected speech, concentrating on stress and intonation, over some 45 minutes, provided that we follow normal planning principles. Thus we could have students do recognition work on intonation patterns, work on the stress in certain key phrases, and then move on to the rehearsing and performing of a short play extract which exemplifies some of the issues we have worked on. Making pronunciation the main focus of a lesson does not mean that every minute of that lesson has to be spent on pronunciation work. Sometimes students may also listen to a longer recording, working on listening skills before moving to the pronunciation part of the sequence. Sometimes they may look at aspects of vocabulary before going on to work on word stress and sounds and spelling.

Discrete slots: some teachers insert short, separate bits of pronunciation work into lesson sequences. Over a period of weeks, they work on all the individual phonemes, either separately or in contrasting pairs. At other times they spend a few minutes on a particular aspect of intonation, say, or on a contrast between two or more sounds. Such separate pronunciation slots can be extremely useful, and provide a welcome change of pace and activity during a lesson. Many students enjoy them, and they succeed precisely because we do not spend too long on any one issue. However, pronunciation is not a separate skill; it is part of the way we speak. Even if we want to keep our pronunciation phases separate for the reasons we have suggested, we will also need times when we integrate pronunciation work into longer lesson sequences.

Integrated phases: many teachers get students to focus on pronunciation issues as an integral part of a lesson. When students listen to a recording, for example, one of the things which we can do is to draw their attention to pronunciation features on the recording, if necessary having them work on sounds that are especially prominent, or getting them to imitate intonation patterns for questions, for example. Pronunciation teaching forms a part of many sequences where students study language form. When we model words and phrases, we draw our students' attention to the way they are said; one of the things we want to concentrate on during an accurate reproduction stage is the students' correct pronunciation.

Opportunistic teaching: just as teachers may stray from their original plan when lesson realities make this inevitable, and teach vocabulary or grammar opportunistically because it has 'come up', so there are good reasons why we may want to stop what we are doing and spend a minute or two on some pronunciation issue that has arisen in the course of an activity. A lot will depend on what kind of activity the students are involved in since we will be reluctant to interrupt fluency work inappropriately, but tackling a problem at the moment when it occurs can be a successful way of dealing with pronunciation.

Although whole pronunciation lessons may be an unaffordable luxury for classes under syllabus and timetable pressure, many teachers tackle pronunciation in a mixture of the ways suggested above.

Helping individual students

We frequently work with the whole class when we organise pronunciation teaching. We conduct drills with minimal pairs or we have all of the students working on variable stress in sentences together. Yet, as we have seen, pronunciation is an extremely personal matter, and even in monolingual groups, different students have different problems, different needs and different attitudes to the subject. In multilingual groups, of course, students from different language backgrounds may have very different concerns and issues to deal with.

One way of responding to this situation, especially when we are working with phonemes, is to get students to identify their own individual pronunciation difficulties rather than telling them, as a group, what they need to work on. So, for example, when revising a list of words we might ask individual students which words they find easy to pronounce and which words they find difficult. We can then help them with the difficult words. We can encourage students to bring difficult words to the lesson so that we can help them with them. This kind of differentiated teaching is especially appropriate because students may be more aware of their pronunciation problems - and be able to explain what they are - than they are with grammar or vocabulary issues.

It is vitally important when correcting students to ensure that we offer help in a constructive and useful way. This involves us showing students which parts of the mouth they need to use, providing them with words in their phonological context, and offering them continual opportunities to hear the sounds being used correctly.

Examples of pronunciation teaching

The areas of pronunciation which we need to draw our students' attention to include individual sounds they are having difficulty with, word and phrase/sentence stress and intonation. But students will also need help with connected speech for fluency and with the correspondence, or lack of it, between sounds and spelling.

Here are some practical examples:

Working with sounds


Contrasting two sounds which are very similar and often confused is a popular way of getting students to concentrate on specific aspects of pronunciation.

The sequence starts with students listening to pairs of words and practising the difference between the two targeted phonemes:


If they have no problem with these sounds, the teacher may well move on to other sounds and/or merely do a short practice exercise as a reminder of the difference between them. But if the students have difficulty discriminating between the targeted sounds, the teacher asks them to listen to a recording and, in a series of exercises, they have to work out which word they hear, e.g.:

They now move on to exercises in which they say words or phrases with one sound or the other:

It's very cheap

a grey chair

a cheese sandwich

You cheat!

no chance

a pretty child

before doing a communication task which has words with the target sounds built into it:

If, during this teaching sequence, students seem to be having trouble with either of the sounds, the teacher may well refer to a diagram of the mouth to help them see where the sounds are made:


Contrasting sounds in this way has a lot to recommend it. It helps students concentrate on detail, especially when they are listening to hear the small difference between the sounds. It identifies sounds that are frequently confused by various nationalities. It is manageable for the teacher (rather than taking on a whole range of sounds at the same time), and it can be good fun for the students.

This kind of exercise can be done whether or not the teacher and students work with phonemic symbols.


The writer Adrian Underhill is unambiguous about the use of phonemic symbols and has produced a phonemic chart, which he recommends integrating into English lessons at various points.

This phonemic chart is laid out in relation to where in the mouth the 44 sounds of southern British English are produced. In its top right-hand corner little boxes are used to describe stress patterns, and arrows are used to describe the five basic intonation patterns (i.e. fall, rise, fall-rise, rise-fall and level).


What makes this chart special are the ways in which Adrian Underhill suggests that it should be used. Because each sound has a separate square, either the teacher or the students can point to that square to ask students to produce that sound and/or to show they recognise which sound is being produced. For example, the teacher might point to three sounds one after the other to get the students to say sh-o-p. Among other possibilities, the teacher can say a sound or a word and a student has to point to the sound(s) on the chart. When learners say something and produce an incorrect sound, the teacher can point to the sound they should have made. When the teacher first models a sound, she can point to it on the chart to identify it for the students (Underhill 2005: 101).

The phonemic chart can be carried around by the teacher or left on the classroom wall. If it is permanently there and easily accessible, the teacher can use it at any stage when it becomes appropriate. Such a usable resource is a wonderful teaching aid, as a visit to many classrooms where the chart is in evidence will demonstrate.

There are many other techniques and activities for teaching sounds apart from the ones we have shown here. Some teachers play sound bingo where the squares on the bingo card have sounds, or phonemically 'spelt' words instead of ordinary orthographic words. When the teacher says the sound or the word, the student can cross off that square of their board.

When all their squares are crossed off, they shout Bingo! Noughts and crosses can be played in the same way, where each square has a sound and the students have to say a word with that sound in it to win that square, e.g.


Teachers can get students to say tongue-twisters sometimes, too (e.g. She sells sea shells by the sea shore) or to find rhymes for poetry/limerick lines. When students are familiar with the phonemic alphabet, they can play 'odd man out' (five vocabulary items where one does not fit in with the others), but the words are written in phonemic script rather than ordinary orthography.

Adapted from The Practice of English Language Teaching, Jeremy Harmer 2007, Longman.

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Вадим Бондарь
Вадим Бондарь
Как найти и выбрать тьютора?
Ирина Суханова
Ирина Суханова
здравствуйте! я прохожу курс учитель англ. языка. я отправила тест №1, как долго его будут проверять.