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

Friday, September 11, 2009

ESL Teacher Blog: Articles A or An - Phonetics Over Spelling

The rule - use ‘a’ before a noun that starts with a consonant sound (e.g.: a flower) and ‘an’ before a noun that starts with a vowel sound (e.g.: an orange) - is taught at the beginner stages of learning English. Yet, even at upper levels students realize that the distinction isn’t as simple as it looks on the surface.
It’s worth refreshing their memory of the letter vs. sound, especially the vowel vs. consonant sound concepts prior to consolidating the rule. Check if your students can explain the choice of an article in the following cases:
an only child - a once in a lifetime opportunity (‘o’ sounds as ‘w’)

an hour long wait (‘h’ isn’t pronounced) - a happy end

an NBA (National Basketball Association) - a NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) airstrike (NBA pronounced letter by letter, NATO as one word)

an ugly duckling (‘u’ makes a vowel sound) - a union representative (‘u’ sounds as ‘yu’, consonant sound)
Provide additional practice on the board. Ask to choose ‘a’ or ‘an’ before the words/phrases below:
__ MP (member of Parliament)
__ oak tree
__ one way road
__ hedgehog
__ heir to the throne
__ honest person
__ useless trip
__ herb garden (in American English 'h' isn't pronounced)
__ Ph.D.
__ U-turn
__ universe
__ updated resume
__ RV (recreational vehicle)
__ ROE (Record of Employment) form
__ MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan
__ historic speech
__ honorable guest
Think of your country’s common abbreviations (banks, airlines, educational/government institutions etc.) that start with a consonant letter but pronounced with a vowel sound or vice-versa. Ecourage your students to add to the list and have them practice the combinations. In Canada it can be: an RSSP account, an RCMP investigation, an NDP supporter, an RRSP contribution, an RBC employee, a UPS store, a U of T student etc.
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 8:34 PM   1 Comments  Add Comment

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

ESL Teacher Blog: How Was Your Summer? - First Day of School Icebreaker

Put students in pairs and ask to think of an adjective to describe their summer. It can be a positive, negative or neutral one. Encourage students to think beyond general adjectives such as nice or good, especially at upper levels. They should support their choice of an adjective:
Example: My summer was action-packed. I went camping, fishing, golfing and even whale-watching!
A possible list of adjectives might include:
pretty good
Alternatively, have students complete the phrase:
My summer was...
Possible answers may include:
My summer was a drag/one of the best/a dream come true/quite a good one.
Take the activity up writing the adjectives/new vocabulary on the board as students report their answers. You may want to use emoticons :), :(, :| as headings and arrange vocabulary in 3 groups for better retention.
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 1:04 AM   1 Comments  Add Comment


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