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Autonomy & pronunciation
Sophisticated ideas with little language
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Autonomy & pronunciation Speaking

Improving pronunciation is one of the important areas that students feel the need to come to class for. This feeling that the teacher is the only one that can help them is true to an extent but students can also help themselves. Here are a few ideas to help promote autonomy & phonology:

1. Awareness of what is involved in phonology is clearly a good starting point & point them towards a realistic view of how native-like they might become.

2. Lots of listening & analysis of where the difficulties came. Discuss 'sounds in combination' aspects.

3. Recommend areas they need to individually work on & sources for practice materials - books, internet.....

4. Students keep their learner diaries on a tape - handed in at regular intervals. Encourage comparisons between present entries & past ones.

5. Give clear language records - with phonological aspects clearly marked & look at what they are writing down to make sure their records are clear & not missing anything.

6. Student self-correction of phonology errors.

7. Dictionary training - word stress & sounds.

If you take phonology seriously & talk about how much they can do on their own then your students will realise it is another area in which they can help themselves.

For links to all things to do with phonology on the site

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Sophisticated ideas with little language Equation

This week's Tip is an extension of the Tip 'Fill it with English':

You must have seen your lower level adult learners or your younger learners struggle to express sophisticated ideas with simple language & end up being very frustrated. Here is one way of helping with this problem.

Imagine an area crops up that the students really want to talk about & it is inevitable that they are going to use their native language to do it. Stop them & introduce a series of vocabulary items in English that will come up in the conversation. Then let them get on with the conversation in their own language but with the proviso that they use the vocabulary, replacing their native words with the English ones.

It doesn't have to be an area that crops up, you could plan an activity around this. With your teenagers you could be looking at an area such as Harry Potter & the discussion stage could let them use their own language with the English vocabulary within it.

After the activity, from your notes on the language they used in their native language, look at a couple of areas & how they could say them in English.

This then recognises the need & allows for an expression of sophisticated ideas but also attempts to incorporate some English at the same time.

You would have to explain that this is one of the institutionalised classroom procedures & the more you do it the smoother it will be. And clearly this would only work with monolingual groups. An activity to use now & then - try it out a few times & see how it goes.

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In the News

The Joke Competition is still on, so send in any joke connected to the classroom, learning teaching etc. to to win a copy of 'Laughing Matters'.

The week we look at newspapers & a few ideas for using them in class. Interest & relevance are clearly advantages of using newspapers but on the other hand, they can be difficult, with dense, particular language. A few ideas:

1. Take into class several newspapers from the same day & give out to different students or small groups, & as a group, they have to find articles on the same theme & discuss any differences between the facts & bias. You could prepare a worksheet beforehand to use with same topic articles.

2. Take in several English papers, same or different, & students are given a worksheet that asks them to look at the paper in general - how many sections are there?, where is the politics section?, where is the TV section? Afterwards, students discuss the differences between different papers - broadsheet v tabloid etc.

3. With smaller articles, the 'news in brief' sections, students match up the headlines with 8-10 small articles. Then focus on the interesting ones.

4. Students find depressing articles in the newspaper & change the content & write it as an optimistic, good news article

5. Predict the story from the headline & look at the use of the passive in the headline. Read story to confirm.

6. Predict the headline from the story. Read the headline to confirm.

7. From the headline, write stories & then read to confirm.

8. For an article in an English newspaper, find the same article in your local paper. Compare the two for similarities & differences in facts & style.

9. With the two articles above, translate the English article into the student's language & then compare with original.

10. Give out articles to individual students, depending on their interests - an individualised approach. This could be on-going throughout the course.

11. Ask the students to bring in an article that they & the students might find interesting. Plan a lesson around it.

If you have any more ideas for using newspapers, please post them for all to use in the Forums.

On the site there is a news feed with updated daily news - check it out.

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