Archive for the ‘Pronunciation Practice’ Category

One of my favourite songs of late is Somebody That I Used To Know by Belgian-born Australian artist Gotye, featuring New Zealand singer, Kimbra. It is no surprise that this song won an award at the 55th GRAMMY AWARDS.

Interestingly, when I decided to write this lesson I was surprised to find another lesson on the same topic at  I hope you find my ideas a good addition to the theme.

Start by showing the learners the pictures of the two artists and ask the learners to imagine they are ordinary people. Get the learners to give them names. if they wish.

In pairs, get the learners to brainstorm adjectives to describe the two characters’ appearance and personality.  Tell learners to suggest both positive and negative descriptions as in Figure 1.

Man and Woman

Figure 1

After that, get the learners to discuss whether these two people should or shouldn’t have a romantic relationship. Get them to present their opinions like this:

Opinion Bubbles

Listen to the ideas around the class. Write some of the learners’ opinions on the board. Then, tell the learners that you’re going to play music video entitled ‘Somebody that I used to know’. Before they watch video and listen to the song, tell the learners that the song tells the story of a romantic relationship between a man and woman. Put up the song title on the board and get the learners predict the content of the song. Get some feedback and then play the music video for them to confirm their guesses. You might have to play the song various times.

Give the learners a copy of the chorus and tell them to read it and discuss who they think might be speaking in it, the man or the woman, and why.


Conduct a discussion with the class about their ideas. Then, play the song again for them to listen to the lyrics and check who says these lines.  The answer is the man.

Now, divide the class into two teams, A and B.  Give team A. WORKSHEET 1.

Give team B, WORKSHEET 2.

Focus the learners on the VOCABULARY DEFINITIONS at the bottom of the worksheets.

Tell them to work together and match these definitions with the words in italics in the sentences in the table. Monitor and assist them here.

Sit with each group separately and get feedback on the answers, clarifying pronunciation and other relevant aspects of form and meaning as well.  Move on to the table and show the learners the examples given on each worksheet.

It is the learners’ task to interpret what the speakers are trying to say in each line, preferably in their own words. Repeat feedback with each group.

It is time now to work on pronunciation!!!

Give the learners the PRONUNCIATION WORKSHEET below:

Instruct them to find different pronunciation features in the sentences on their worksheets and place them in the boxes under the appropriate category.  Emphasise that one example of each category is done for them.  The learners should also use the chorus for this. Monitor and assist where necessary. Get feedback from around the class. Be prepared for a full-on discussion about the answers to the task.

Move on to the final stage of the lesson. Tell the learners that they are going to role-play a conversation between the man and the woman. Before they start, give them time to prepare within their own groups. For this, give them the following instructions:

  • make small notes about what you want to say
  • try and use some of the lines from the songs in the conversation
  • focus on the pronunciation of what you are saying

Wrap up the lesson by playing the music video for the learners to sing along and enjoy.

Have fun!


OnKiwi 6th February, New Zealanders commemorate a significant day in their national history, Waitangi Day. This public holiday celebrates the signing of The Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 between representatives of the British Crown and Maori chiefs of the North Island of New Zealand recognising the Māori people of New Zealand the ownership of the land and the right to be British subjects.

In this small island country of the South Pacific, English and Maori are official languages.

New Zealand English, however, has its own dialectic idiosyncrasies, especially in its pronunciation and vocabulary. In this first lesson about New Zealand, you will have the opportunity to focus  learners on cultural aspects of Kiwi language and culture.

For this lesson, you will need the following resources:Kiwi

  • the New Zealand Quiz (see Figure 1)
  • and a desk bell

Figure 1

Answers to the quiz: 1 – c, 2 – c,3 – b, 4 – a, 5 – b, 6 – b, 7 – c, 8 – a, 9 – b, 10 – a, 11 – b, 12 – b, 13 – b, 14 – b, 15 – a, 16 – b, 17 – a, 18 – c, 19 – a

Start by explaining the activity to the learners. Tell them that you are going to have a competition.  For this, organise the learners into teams A, B, C etc. Give each team a copy of the New Zealand English quiz below and tell them that they have 5 minutes to answer the questions 1 to 19. Refrain from assisting them at this time.

After that, ask the learners to assign numbers to the people in their teams e.g. L1, L2, L3 etc. Place the desk bell in the middles of the classroom and explain to the teams the competition.

Tell them that you will read one question at a time. At your signal, all L1’s must run for the bell and try to hit it. The first learner to do so gets a chance to answer the question. If the answer is correct, this learner’s team gets a point. If the answer is wrong, the first learner, from the other teams to hit the bell, gets a go at the question. Repeat the procedure for questions 2, 3, 4 etc. with learners taking turns according to their assigned numbers. Tally the scores on the board. At the end of the competition, give the following badges to the players in the winning team. They will be honorary ‘Kiwis’ for the day.

Go over the answers to the questions with the whole class again, this time paying close attention to various aspects of language and culture. I’d recommend using different techniques for highlighting relevant features of pronunciation. For example, get the learners to mark the stress on the words with more than one syllable e.g. New Zealand, Australia, Kiwi, Maori and so on. Use phonemic symbols for one-syllable words such as bach, fern, hug, hongi, etc. Focus the learners on vowel length in words like judder bars, chilly bin, fizzy, etc. I like to use a rubber band for this.  Deal with cultural information about the vocabulary e.g. a jersey is normally referred to as a jumper in the UK and a pullover in the US, a chilly bin is an esky in Australia, a cool box in Britain and a cooler in the US.

Wrap-up the lesson by using Wikipedia to focus the learners on information about the Māori people of New Zealand and their language Te Reo Māori tɛ ˈɾɛɔ ˈmaːɔɾi/.

When I was a boy, I used to enjoy playing children’s games such as Tag. They were great team spirit builders.

In this activity,I would like to share an idea for giving learners practice of phonemic symbols. The activity can be adapted for a class of any size and  level but works particularly well with large and lower-level classes.

First, prepare TAGS for the activity.  For these, use phonemic symbols (see sample in Figure 1)  downloaded free of charge from

Phonemic Symbols

Also, create a TAGGER’s card as in Figure 1.

To prepare the tags, I cut up the phonemic symbols, stick them onto a sheet of A4 paper, laminate them and tie some string to them so that the learners can hang them around their necks e.g.

Figure 1

One advantage of laminating the TAGS, is that they last a long time and you can re-use them for warmers any time during a course.

TIP: Please note that you may not be able to use all the sounds from the phonemic chart with your class, so be selective here. One suggestion would be to give the learners tags of sounds which they find problematic or require more practice of. Alternatively, you may swap tags during the activity. For instance, start with individual vowel sounds and then swap these for diphthongs half way through the activity.

If you have the availability of a playground in your school, take the learners there for this activity.

Give the learners the tags with the phonemic symbols on but make sure one learner gets the TAGGER one.

Explain the activity to the class.  Tell them that the object of the game is to tag, or touch, other people in order to form the sounds of one syllable words. For example, the tagger chases and tags other people and when he or she touches them, they become ‘living statues’. The tagger then says a word which contains the sound the person is carrying, as in Figure 2:

Figure 2

If the pronunciation of the word is correct, the tag is passed on the person who has been touched and the activity continues.

Once the learners have had enough practice, or are feeling tired of chasing and tagging, get them back into the classroom. Ask them to recall some of the words they have formed or heard during the game and put these onto the board. Get the learners to teach these to one another by putting them into example sentences.

This is a short post and I hope you enjoy it. If so, tag it please.


Arizio Sweeting