Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Please don't podcast us!

SchwaImage via Wikipedia
I had to laugh when my 'very good at blogging' class asked me on Monday not to feature them in a podcast.
Seeing as they asked nicely, and had noticed the pod & listened, don't mind at all if they don't. Yet...

Instead I'll show you what we were trying to achieve today, by way of review. A little bit of phonic awareness, using English File (Intermediate). I'm a massive fan of the series (old, new, but not American!).

The actual tipping point was being unable to accurately place the stress the stress in longer words, after mangling a few dipthongs for longer vowels & vice versa. Occurred to me that if they were having problems locating the stress (speaking slowly, thinking in katakana, not voicing the sounds at all etc) then just maybe I'd missed a trick along the way too. 

To test my theory, after we'd agreed on the stress for a group of longer (newish) words, we'd write them out phonetically. I'm a big fan of using phonemes, but have found a lot of resistance to my 'destroy katakana' philosophy...yes, a few tantrums have been seen :)

In pairs I asked my crew on Monday to spell their words phonetically. Their last three texts have had the same table in the back, and the poster has been on the wall for heaven knows how long, so not an unfair challenge. As I suspected, we were not 'schwa-ing'. Mmm. What? Although locating the stress and saying the word, in super slow motion students were emphasising each syllable. Not a lazy schwa in sight.

Please understand I am not bagging my students here; something I have neglected to focus on properly revealed itself when the three pairs were asked to put their transcriptions on the board...none were the same. Almost none had an unstressed vowel sound...so we found a place to start!
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