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You know how confusing (and important) the pronunciation of those words is? When I translated to Spanish what one of my students had just said ("I brush my tits"), he blushed. Sometimes I use this technique to show the importance of correct pronunciation. But here are some milder ideas:

Present minimal pairs first by showing pictures of the objects (e.g., ship vs sheep).(You may use a transparency or picture cards). For sound recognition, assign a number for each picture, pronounce the words in random order, and have the students say the number(s). Students may also volunteer or be called upon to pronounce whereas the rest of the class has to guess the number.

As a follow up, you may have students create a sentence with the particular word, every time they make a mistake. Another possibility is to play the Pronunciation Journey game. It works more or less like this:

Put four minimal pairs on the board, arranged in two columns (right and left). Practice the pronunciation of the words with your students. Use variety. For example: pronounce for them to listen only, perform sound recognition checks, tap on the words and have your students pronounce them. When you feel, they have mastered the different pronunciations, start playing the game.

Give each student a Pronunciation Journey map that you can make yourself or copy from Pronunciation Games, by Mark Hancock--by the way, a wonderful book with lots of pronunciation activities. Let me try and explain how to create your pronunciation map.

On a blank sheet, write START OF JOURNEY on the bottom and write "1" just above. From "1" draw a line about 2.5" to the left, and another line to the right. From each end, draw another line (about 1") upward. Write a "2" on bothe ends. Repeat the process until you have a total of eight number 4's on the top. Branch out each number 4 with names of two different cities (one to the left, one to the right). You might want to use cities that are internationally known, and use this for a mini geography lesson, as well. (Believe it or not, I had students say that London is in Paris!)

Here are the instructions on how to play the game:

1. The goal is to get to the correct destination.
2. Each time you say one of the words in each minimal pair, the students have to go right or left on their maps until they have gotten to the right place.
3. If most students are having trouble, repeat the words until most or at least some of them have gotten it right.
4. Have the first student giving the correct answer say the words back to you.
5. It's always a good idea to model the first time you play the game.

If my instructions were not very clear, you might want to doublecheck Michael Hancock's book. It's worth it!

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