Great timing as today in our bi-weekly PDM we reviewed the previous session which had been all about getting to grips with phonology and reflected on what we had been doing in our classes since then. I’m happy to say I have been slightly more proactive with pron (pron there rather than phonology because I like the alliteration of ‘proactive pron’) – for example, the 9-year-olds the other day looked at -ed endings and we did an awareness-raising activity to see if they could hear the difference between sentences said in the present and the past, e.g I watch TV vs I watched TV. (FYI: They were generally good at noticing the difference, but aren’t yet fully comfortable producing the regular past, so there’s still a lot of Spanishified play-ed and watch-ed.)
This also came off the back of a chat I was having with some colleagues about my 5-year-olds who are really struggling to produce ‘s’ at the end of words despite heavy drilling and I also felt as though they weren’t aware of the sound when I said the sentence either, so we’re working on that and doing some back-chaining as I found that with the sentence, “He’s got long legs” the ‘s’ sounds got lost at one point or the other! This also gives us a chance to work on producing a more clipped ‘t’ at the end of got – so we’re steadily moving away from /hi: gɒ lɒnx lex/ with the final /x/ sounding like a true Scotsman pronuncing the ‘ch’ in loch.
It’s interesting to do a variety of group and individual drilling in the class as it really does give you the opportunity to think about the individual learners. Some of my VYLS can parrot back wonderful sentences with clear sounds and the correct intonation, whereas others struggle both with individual phonemes and those supra-segmental features such as word or sentence stress. I wonder how it correlates to their speech development in their own language (as Russ Mayne commented the other day on Twitter):
I would still like to do more proactive pron with my teen and adult groups but as we had two wonderful national holidays last week, we didn’t have class so I wasn’t as phonologically active as I may have otherwise been. However, in our end-of-term tutorial yesterday, one of the adult learners said she’d like to do more work on the phonemic alphabet to become more familiar with the different phonemes and work on tricky sounds at a more basic level – minimal pairs, ahoy!
Going to have a Fortnightly Focus break over the Christmas holidays, which will give me some time to reflect on the year so far and start thinking about how to make the next term better. How happy are you with your start to the year? Any teaching-related new year resolutions?