In the previous post on Comfortable Intelligibility – I suggested using the three levels of pronunciation (Level 1: Sounds: Level 2: Words: Level 3: Connected Speech) as a kind of practical ladder for moving up and down between the whole of a language piece and the parts it is made of (and the whole is always more than the sum of those parts). The aim is to give the bits of learning (sounds, clusters, wordstress, unstress, linking, reduction) the attention they need while always serving the greater goal of learning connected up speech.
Here is an illustration of a 3 or 4 minute sequence of classwork, moving elegantly between Levels 1, 2 and 3 (ie between the detail and the connected up speech). This is made possible in part by using the pron chart.
Practical awareness no 2: Using the three levels of pronunciation
Here’s the first sentence from a 120 word course book text (New Straightforward Intermediate, Kerr & Jones, Macmillan Education) which is both recorded and printed in the student book.
I once saw a magician who did an incredible trick.
Assume you have introduced the recording (Level 3) and listened to the whole text in respect of general meaning etc, and now it’s time for a more detailed study of the language, in this case entering via pronunciation. The student books are closed at this point:
1.. T plays the first sentence one only: I once saw a magician who did an incredible trick.
2..Teacher: “How many words?” (Sts have to re-listen again internally in their mind’s ear in order to count. Levels 3 and 2)
3.. T: “So tell me the words”. Class calls them out individually. (Level 2)
4.. T: “What’s the 4th word?” (Level 2, Sts replay in mind’s ear, and say something approximating magician)
5.. Perhaps T says magician aloud once, Sts listen internally several times (Level 2)
6.. Sts say it aloud. Class listen to each other (Sts notice difference between inner hearing and speaking aloud. Level 2)
7.. T asks “How many sounds in that word?” (Sts count internally by discriminating sounds in their mind’s ear. This also prepares them to use the pron chart. Level 1,)
8.. Class call out number/s of the sounds (there are 7 in magician but there is no need to be accurate at this point, it is the fact of counting that triggers an internal discrimination, Level 1)
9.. T: “So what’s the first sound … and the next … ? etc..” Perhaps T counts the sounds onto her fingers as they are called, and deals usefully with wrong sounds. Level 1, sounds and feedback and assistance)
10.. Teacher invites a St (prepared by point 9) to come to the chart to point out the sounds /m ǝ ʤ ɪ ʃ ǝ n/ Class say aloud what the St points at, correct or not, so the St at the chart gets feedback and can adjust what she points at. Level 2, going down to Level 1)
- T and others assist, sufficient accuracy of individual sounds is established. Others come to the chart to have a go. All class is involved by saying aloud the sounds that are pointed at by the person at the front ,and then negotiating them if not right. (Level 1)
12.. Once the sequence /m ǝ ʤ ɪ ʃ ǝ n/ is established on the chart T says “Now in English!” A kind of joke but Sts know exactly what they have to do, ie connect it all up so it sounds like the original model (Level 2)
13.. Perhaps now the T invites people to the board to spell the word. (Level 2, developing insight into sound spelling relationships in English)
14.. And finally of course they put the word back into the original sentence with some speed, embedding the new word in the connected steam of speech, and then comparing it with the original recording (Level 3)
Breaking it down like this makes it look long, but as you know this kind of sequence goes very quickly, and perhaps you won’t use all of these steps, or use them in this order
I have tried to illustrate the movement between the 3 levels of pronunciation, applying this to putting a new vocabulary item into circulation, in this case by attending to its pronunciation in a deeper and more memory retentive way after only hearing the word. One could also start from just seeing the spelling, as when encountering it in a written text. That has a similar process to the above, but with some interesting differences which I’ll look at in the next post.
Meanwhile if this interests you, earlier this month I gave a short webinar on the topic of using the pron chart to introduce new vocab. You can find it here.