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A BIT OF BITTER BUTTER

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This is to correct that undifferentiated "uni-vowel" that so many students use. It's a variation on the old telephone game which I found very successful.

First I put on the board the words "bitter, butter, batter, better, Betty, bit of, bought a". You can give definitions for bitter and batter if you like. I drilled the pronunciation of these words, told the students to remember them without writing them down, and erased them.

Next, I divided the class into teams by row and told them I would give some words to the last person in the row, who would tell the next person, who would tell the next, and so on. The first person in the row would then write the words they heard on the board. (You might have to specify that students aren't allowed to write or spell the words for their teammates.) We played the game using combinations of the words from the beginning of class: bitter batter, better Betty, bit of butter and so on. My students found this pretty challenging.

After congratulating the winning team, tell the other students they have another chance to catch up. This time it's going to be harder. For round two, I modified the old Betty Boughter tongue twister.

1. Betty bought a bit of butter.
2. But she said the butter is bitter.
3. If I use it in my batter,
4. It will make the batter bitter.
5. So she bought some better butter.
6. And she put it in the batter.
7. And the batter was much better.
8. Better not use bitter butter
9. If you want some better batter
10. Bitter butter makes it bitter.

Now they REALLY have to listen! You can use the extra lines for tie-breakers etc. I awarded points only for perfect answers, so the game was really difficult to win. The students were very involved and competitive. My classes have 65 students each, so two rounds took up the entire period. If time ran out, the students wanted me to stay extra time to finish the game.

In such big classes it's hard to give any attention to every individual student. This activity means EVERY student is participating and having to listen and pronounce words clearly. The best thing was, at the beginning of the class I had a lot of people saying "budda-bedda-budda-bedda..." and by the end almost every person was enunciating and speaking much more clearly and distinctly.

Sara
Henan Province, China

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