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Pronunciation Directions

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This is based on an exercise from "Clear Speech" -- a great teaching/practice/ resource book.

Draw a simple street map. Introduce all the vocabulary that you wish students to use (e.g. road, street, avenue, lane, footpath, near, opposite, crossroads, T-junction, roundabout, and etc.)

Then give the streets names that sound similar but require clear pronunciation in order to distinguish them. Choose names that contain sounds that your students find difficult to enunciate clearly. In China, I use names such as: "Topaz Road", "Toe Path Road" & "Doe Pass Raod"; "Seal Street" & "Steel Street"; "Luff Avenue" & "Love Avenue"; "Cars Street" & "Carl's Street", "Haines Street" & "Hane Street" and so on.

First, drill students in the correct pronunciation -- special attention on voiced/un-voiced sounds, Linked "S" and what have you. Then, with students in pairs or groups, have one student say the name of a street and see if the other students can point to it.

After a few minutes of pronunciation and listening practice, get students to give directions using "left"/"right"/"straight ahead" and street names only.
e.g. "Follow Haines Street until you reach Cars Street and turn left. Follow Cars Street until you get to the junction with Booze Boulevard and then take a right. Continue until you arrive at the junction of Booze and Topaz.
Is everybody lost? Hmmmm.... OK. Try again. (students can also practice polite interruptions and checking questions: "I beg your pardon? Did you say ToPAZ Road or Toe PATH Road?" etc.

Once people begin to get the hang of it, sit them back to back and try again.


Also, if you wish, and if the students are of a good enough level, you can include little cut out pictures of landmarks on the map.

Get students to describe direction using visual landmarks. Once again, if the land marks are similar looking, and/or if you've chosen things which require similar sounding words in order to identify the land mark's qualities, then students must focus on their accurate pronunciation.

My students found it challenging and they hated it AND me sometimes. However, with plenty of encouragement and humour, once they began to get it right every time then soon felt the thrill and satisfaction of improvement.


Xiamen, China

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