I’ve recently been doing some work with phonology with my 10-year-olds, trying to familiarise them with the phonetic alphabet. A quick and easy way to raise awareness of English sounds is with a discrimination activity:
- Divide the class into pairs and give each a mini-whiteboard.
- Dictate a number of words to them. The words should contain one of the two phonemes you want to focus on.
- In whole group feedback, write the words on the board.
- Then write up the two phonemes and tell learners to work in pairs to categorise each word according to the phoneme it contains.
- After checking, you can either do some kinaesthetic controlled practice – such as jumping to one side or the other depending on the phoneme they hear – or a freer activity, such as using four of the words in a dialogue.
This activity is especially useful to highlight the spelling-sound difference, for example, /dʒ / in jeans and genius or /i:/ in beach, green or people.