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March 14, 2008

Tips and Tricks-Minimal Pairs

Hello Readers,

Do your students have a difficult time distinguishing between two similar sounds? (If you don't know what their pronunciation problems are, start compiling a list in class. Spending a few minutes each day focusing on their pronunciation would be a good start.) Perhaps they confuse the sounds p and b, l and r or s and z. If this is the case, then a quick and regular minimal pairs exercise could eventually improve ...

... their pronunciation habits.

Let's say you've come to realize that your students can't distinguish between l and r sounds. Make a list of similar words like this:

l r
light right
lot rot
led red
lake rake

Write the words up on the board. Ask students to repeat the sounds after you, starting with all the l sounds, then all the r sounds, then comparing the two similar words (e.g., light, right). Having a pointer to point to the words while you say them is a good way to reinforce the sounds (a pointer can easily be made by rolling up a piece of a paper). Then, say a word and ask the students to tell you whether it is an 'l' sound or an 'r' sound (or number them 1 and 2 and have them put up their fingers to show you which one it is). After that, you can point to a word and ask a student to read the word. Finally, put the students into teams. Have them line up, so that they can each take a turn to try. If you give each team a pointer, then it's easier to see which team got the answer right first.

This activity can take 5 minutes or 15 minutes, depending on how long you want to spend on it. It makes a good opener, filler, or a closing activity.

Hope that helps!

Carol Rueckert
Writer, ESL Lesson Plan
E-mail: crueckert@eslemployment.com
Blog: www.esl-lesson-plan.com

"I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand." - Chinese Proverb

*For more ESL Tips & Tricks from ESL-Lesson-Plan, please click HERE!

About the author of this entry:
Carol, a native English-speaker hailing from the small town of St. Joseph in Minnesota, USA, worked in China for more than 7 years. During that time, she worked at universities, private language schools, grade schools, international schools, and did private tutoring as well. Besides teaching, she also worked as a Head teacher, an Education Manager, and a Material Development Manager. In addition to working on this newsletter, she also writes a monthly column for Time Out Beijing, authors ESL textbooks for publishing houses in China, and is an Editor for Garnet Publishing in Reading, England. Carol holds a BA in Communications from the College of St. Benedict/ St. John's University, and a CELTA, and has just finished her MA TESOL course at Oxford Brookes University. Look for her posts on the ESL-Jobs-Forum discussion boards!

Posted by crueckert at March 14, 2008 04:53 AM

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