Posts Tagged ‘VOWEL SOUNDS’

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!


In this second post, I would like to describe a  pronunciation activity based on the ELT classic BINGO, which I have adapted to a game of soccer.

The aim of the activity is to give lower-level learners practice of vowel sounds using vocabulary about animals.

The first step is to pre-teach the animals on the SOCCER CRITTER BOARD (Figure 1).

Drill each word, focusing on the short and long vowel sounds and diphthongs until the learners become confident  about recognising and producing these sounds.

Highlight to the learners the double dots next to certain sounds and explain that these are used for indicating vowel lengthening e.g. /ɑ:/ as in CAR. If possible, use a rubberband to do this when drilling these sounds.

Figure 1

As I needed to have one animal for each vowel sound or diphthong, I used words from American, British and Australian English. For example, in picture 5, I used the word gecko, an Australian lizard, to focus the learners on the sound /e/.

I also used the word OPOSSUM from US English rather than POSSUM from UK and AUS English to focus the learners on the schwa /ə/.

For the animal in picture 15, I used the UK  pronunciation  of JAGUAR /ˈdʒægjʊ.əʳ/ rather than the US /ˈdʒæ.gju:a:/, as it contained the diphthong /ʊə/.  Besides, I couldn’t think of an animal with this sound at the time. So if you have a critter to suggest… please!!!

The second step is to get the learners to work in pairs and test each other using the board. For example, one learner says the sound e.g. /ɑ:/ to another learner, who then tries to find the animal for this sound on the board i.e.  shark. If the learner is correct, he or she gets another turn. If not, he or she misses a turn.

After that, organise the learners into small groups of 3 or 4. Give each group a CRITTER CARD (Figure 2) and tell them to  name each of the animals on the cards. Make sure that the groups do not show their cards to other groups. Explain that the cards are all different from one another, like bingo cards.

Figure 2

Next, give the groups  a SOCCER BALL (Figure 3) and a strip of cardboard for them to prepare a prop for their group.

Figure 3

The Game:

Explain the rules of the game to the class.

Tell them that they are going to play a game of soccer in which goals are scored by correctly recognising vowel sounds and diphthongs and matching these to the animals on the critter cards. Emphasise that the game works in the same way as a BINGO game.

Tell the class that you are going to say vowel sounds at random. If they have an animal on their cards with the sound, they are to raise their props and shout ‘Freeze’. The  learner who says ‘Freeze’ first gets the chance to name the animal. If his or her answer is correct, the group scores a goal and crosses this animal out on their card. If not, they lose the goal.

NOTE: it is important that you repeat the same vowel sounds several times during the game, as some animals appear on more than one card.

When a group manages to cross out all the animals on their critter card, they must shout ‘BINGO’ to win the game.

Well, that’s all for today. Keep visiting this space for more pronunciation activities on tradional ELT activities.

Arizio Sweeting