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Pronunciation Dominoes for Advanced Students

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This activity is good for practice with using the dictionary, which is of course the single most important textbook in English teaching! First I teach the students either IP or an Americanized version of pronunciation keys in the dictionary. Then, I pair the students and have them produce a list of 10 disyllabic or more words; each word must have the same vowel sound at the end as the first vowel sound of another word; eg, "beautiful" connects with "peruse" but NOT "bedcover"; this is why it is VERY important that they check the sound in the dictionary. The next word would have to start with the "u" sound from peruse, etc. This is good practice with the unfortunate reality that English orthography does not match pronunciation. After creating the list, students write them on slips of paper, cut them up and mix them, and hand them to another pair to create the "domino" chain.

The key to this activity is to have to students choose the words. To save time the teacher could create the lists and just have the students figure out what the correct order is, since they still have to use the dictionary. But I have discovered that if the teacher is learning English while creating study material, then there must be a way to modify the activity so that that learning is trasferred to the students; ie, as much as possible given classroom time restraints, HAVE THE STUDENTS MAKE THEIR OWN CLASSROOM STUDY MATERIAL. It also creates pride when they make materials that other groups then use. You'll often find they choose words with meanings they didn't know before, thus improving their vocabulary.

Variations include having the syllables be the same consonant and vowel sound; creating more than 10 and letting there be several chains that could work (otherwise, I found that students often had to tell the group which word to "start" with); and creating a closed loop, ie, the last of the 10 words has the same ending sound as the very first one.

Godo luck!

Kelly Banz
Advanced ESL teacher
Wake Technical Community College
Raleigh, NC, USA

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