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ESL Teacher Blog
The teacher's point of view: thoughts, observations and ideas about ESL teaching.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

ESL Teacher Blog: Pronouncing -ed Endings in the Simple Past Tense

Regular verbs end with -ed in the Past Simple tense in English and that’s a pretty easy rule to apply. Yet, for many students the pronunciation of -ed is nothing short of confusion: /t/, /d/ or /id/ and why? Is /e/ between the last two consonants silent or does it make a sound?

Even if you've already dedicated a special class to clarifying these questions, it’s worth reviewing again and again until your students’ ear is able to discern and correctly produce the final sounds of the -ed verbs.

First, make sure students understand what voiced and voiceless consonant sounds are. Have them place their hands on the throat and feel the vibration of the vocal cords. Voiced sounds (b, d, g, j, l, m, n, r, v, z) will produce movement while voiceless sounds (f, k, p, s, t, x) won’t. Point out the consonant clusters: compare the voiced /th/ as in ‘teethe’ and voiceless as in ‘mouth’ and test the other common voiceless /ch/, /sh/ and /ph/ (as in laugh) combinations.

Review the rules with plenty of examples:

We pronounce /d/ at the end of an -ed verb if it’s preceded by a voiced sound: jogged, screamed, buttoned, robbed, etc.

We pronounce /t/ at the end of an -ed verb if it’s preceded by a voiceless sound: stopped, taxed, popped, washed, etc.

We pronounce /id/ at the end of an -ed verb if it’s preceded by /t/: shouted, punctuated, reported, chatted, etc.

Special cases that are worth noticing:

The letter -s- will sound as a voiced sound /z/ before a vowel. This in turn will make the final letter -d- sound /d/ (and not /t/) as in: released, increased, raised, etc.

The ending of a verb that ends with a vowel sound (!), not only letter, will have a /d/ sound at the end: prayed, glued, paid, but also: interviewed, cooed, mowed, etc.

Have your students circle the past tense regular verbs in any reading you did in class. Ask them to organize the verbs into 3 categories based on their last sounds (/d/, /t/, /id/) while reasoning their choice. Make sure to include less obvious cases (promised vs. deceased, birthed vs. breathed).
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 3:06 PM   0 Comments  Add Comment

Friday, May 01, 2009

ESL Teacher Blog: Teaching With Open-Ended Sentences

As students progress through the levels, controlled language activities (fill-in-the-blanks, drills) gradually give way to more challenging ones where students take charge in the final outcome of their work. Completing open-end sentences is one of the most effective ways to help students through this transition as they gain greater independency in expressing their thoughts and experiencing with the creativity of language patterns.
Below are examples of some language points where incorporating open-ended sentences might prove useful:
1. Let your students experiment with sentence connectors (used to show addition, contrast, etc.). Provide various structures to test their understanding:
a) Although the movie had a good review, _____.
b) _____. What’s more _____.
c) He had a letter of recommendation, ______ as well.
Talk about other connectors possible in the sentences, punctuation, and type of clauses.
2. Ask students complete sentences with idiomatic patterns:
a) Judy gets good marks at school, but _____, if you catch my drift.
b) To make ends meet, the parents _____.
c) _____ and can’t stay on top of it.
3. Have students share their opinions and feelings:
a) We can all conserve water by _____, _____ and _____.
b) I think the demonstrators who blocked the traffic during the rush hour, _____.
c) She felt insulted because _____.
In addition to learning and reviewing vocabulary, students are forced to apply their previous knowledge (word order, parts of speech, punctuation, spelling) in order to come up with meaningful stretches of speech.
No sentence will be alike. After all, language is about being able to juggle the words and arranging them into appropriate combinations (based on the rules that the language permits). And everyone can do it in their own unique way - that’s the real beauty of the language, isn’t it?
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 11:29 PM   0 Comments  Add Comment


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