Introducing the phonemic chart

Although the teacher is central in introducing the phonemic chart, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the student cannot be encouraged to be pro-active in independent learning of the sounds.  A little bit of teacher-guidance to encourage the students to develop familiarity with the chart in a way that is non-threatening can empower the student and facilitate autonomous learning to reinforce classroom activities.   Adrian Underhill suggests a two-stage process of introducing, then integrating the chart, while moving from teacher-led instruction (model, drill) to autonomous controlled practice. The following (taken from British Council East Asia Digital Blog) is an example:

1.)    Target: distinguishing between two sounds in isolation: /ɪ/ and /e/

  • Stage: introducing the chart
  • Teacher models each sound several times, one at a time, pointing to it on the chart. Learners listen and repeat each time.
    Teacher points to each sound to prompt learners to speak.
    Teacher models each sound again and learners point to the sound on the chart.
    Learners point to each sound to prompt teacher to speak (to clarify their understanding and receive sufficient modeling).
    Learners pronounce each sound and teacher indicates what they said using a pointer (e.g. teacher points to the boundaries of the two sounds if they produce an utterance bordering on correct pronunciation, or a non-native English sound).
    Learners repeat this activity with each other in pairs / groups.

2.)    Target: distinguishing between similar vowel and consonant sounds at word level: “chair, share, chore, shore, cheer, shear”

  • Stage: integrating the chart
  • Teacher writes all words on board and asks learners how they think they’re pronounced.
    Teacher points out each individual sound in the first word, chair: /ʧ –  e –  ə/, showing formation of diphthong /eə/ from two vowel sounds.
    Teacher points again to each individual sound in succession, pausing to hear students’ pronunciation.
    Teacher repeats procedure for targeted sounds (consonant or vowel) until all the phonemes in each word have been elicited in this manner (e.g. share: /ʃ – e – ə /, chore: /ʧ – ɔ:/, shore: /ʃ – ɔ:/, etc.)
    In pairs, learners point out different sound sequences for the words on the board, using the chart and eliciting the correct word pronunciation from their partner.
    Teacher points to a word on the board, a learner pronounces it and teacher traces the sounds (correct or not) produced by that student on the chart. Learners correct themselves if needed.
    A learner selects a word on the board, another pronounces it and a third student traces the sounds on the chart with a pointer, in place of the teacher.

3.)    Target: word level pronunciation for new target vocabulary: “thunder”

  • Stage: integrating the chart
  • Learner selects an unknown word from a new text and writes it on the board. e.g. thunder
    Teacher asks each learner how they think it is pronounced, one at a time.
    Whole class listens to the different opinions and decides on correct pronunciation.
    Teacher confirms, improves or corrects pronunciation by pointing out correct sequence of sounds on the chart, pausing on each sound to elicit it.
    Learners repeat each sound slowly at first and then at normal pace.
    Teacher says whole word to confirm pronunciation and learners repeat.
    Learners work in pairs, pointing to each target word, while eliciting the correct word pronunciation from their partner or tracing the correct sound sequence on the chart.