Pronunciation Matters
Sample Teaching Plan Outline

For a Pronunciation Matters Lesson

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Note: This plan is an empty "skeleton" that can be used with any Pronunciation Matters unit. A sample teaching plan for a particular unit with a full, detailed teacher script is provided in the appendix.

Objectives (chosen from class members' particular difficulties identified in earlier diagnosis)
Students will…

  • Recognize the importance of (target sound contrast).
  • Develop the ability to (1) hear and (2) produce these targets in imitative, rehearsed, and extemporaneous speech when their attention is on the content of the message.

In addition, they will have fun and enjoy learning and practicing.

Materials Needed
Pronunciation Matters Unit
Peer-practice cards for Pronunciation Matters Unit

  1. Important Notes for Teachers Using this Plan
    Sequence Although this plan presents a series of Pronunciation Matters teaching activities sequentially, considerable variation in sequencing is possible—especially after the initial story presentation. Once you are familiar with the various activities, you will be able to choose the ones that are most helpful for your students and do them in the sequence that works best for you. Of course, you will naturally move from listening to speaking. You will also generally start with activities that are more controlled and imitative in nature, then move to those that are rehearsed, and end with extemporaneous speaking activities.

  2. Time A column is provided for you to plan (or record) the time required for each step in the plan. It will vary depending on you and your students.

  3. Continuity Even though the various Pronunciation Matters teaching activities are presented in a continuous sequence in this plan—as if they formed one long lesson—they can be used in other ways. For example, the initial story presentation and listening/speaking practice activities could be done on one day, follow-up pair-practice activities with the cards could be done on a subsequent day, and the story reading and retelling activities could be carried out on other days. Some of the in-class practice activities (such as preparing a "skeleton" for retelling the story) could also be done as homework if that is more appropriate.

  4. Completeness This sample teaching plan does not present every possible Pronunciation Matters activity. More are explained in the "Recommended Instructional Procedures" section, and once you have understood the principles on which the procedures are based you may create additional ones of your own.

TimeTeaching ActivitiesIntroduction/Warm-up
and Initial story presentation

  • Announce story and encourage students to listen carefully.

  • Tell story. When it reaches the right point (indicated by the number in parentheses in the printed story), begin (or have a student begin) drawing the appropriate picture following the model chalkboard pictures provided.

  • Give students the opportunity to guess—based on the context of the story and/or the emerging drawing itself—what it is.

  • Go on telling/reading the story, and drawing other pictures in the same way at the appropriate times. 

  • Focus on contrasting sentences

  • Elicit key words/phrases from the students.

  • Write contrasting sentences on the board.

  • Model these words/phrases clearly yet naturally.•Make sure that students understand the key pronunciation difference(s) between the two words/phrases.•As needed, discuss the difference in meaning that the pronunciation difference produces.

  • Write the rejoinders corresponding to each sentence on the board.

  • Have students write the appropriate key word(s) in each of the blanks in the “Contrasting Sentences” section in their books. 

Listening practice

  • Randomly choose and say one of the contrasting sentences. Call on students—individually or in small groups—to respond in any of the following ways:
      1. Making a mark (a check, or a number if you do this repeatedly) in their book in the box in front of the sentence you just said.
      2. Pointing to the picture that corresponds to the sentence you just said.
      3. Making a meaningful gesture connected with the sentence you just said or its rejoinder.
      4. Saying the appropriate rejoinder aloud.
  • Try to create a fun, game-like atmosphere
  • After one individual or group has responded, involve other students or groups by asking them to confirm the correctness of the initial response. Ask them, "Do you agree?"
  • Continue this practice until most students demonstrate acceptable mastery in distinguishing between the two contrasting sentences when they hear them spoken.Option: If some students have extra difficulty hearing the contrast, pair them with students who don't and let them do listening practice with the cards now. 

Speaking practice

  1. Reverse roles
    • Have individual student randomly choose and say one of the contrasting sentences. Take the part of providing the appropriate rejoinder.
  2. Have one student be “the teacher."
    • Ask individual students to produce one of the sentences based on the cue you provide (by whispering, showing a picture, or making a gesture).
    • The other class members indicate what the individual said by pointing to a picture, making a gesture, or saying a rejoinder that corresponds to the sentence. 
  3. Arrange student-to-student practice with audience involvement.
    • Call on one individual student to choose and say one of the contrasting sentences.
    • Then ask the student who said the sentence to select a classmate to provide the corresponding rejoinder.
    • The rest of the class judges whether the second student responded appropriately. When the students disagree about the appropriate response, ask for a show of hands. After an appropriate amount of discussion, tell them the correct answer.
  4. Set up a communicative “information gap” practice situation.
    • Ask one student to be the "chooser" and stand at the back of the class, or go there yourself. A second student (who will be the "speaker") stands at the front of the class. The rest of the class must face forward so they cannot see the student in the back.
    • The "chooser" randomly chooses and points to one of the pictures on the board, holds up a visual cue (e.g., a picture or word card), or makes one of the gestures practiced earlier.
    • Seeing the visual cue, the "speaker" says the corresponding sentence.
    • The class responds with the appropriate rejoinder (either individually, as called upon by the student or teacher, or as a group). 
    • After they have responded, students are allowed to turn their heads and look at the chooser in the back who should still be pointing, holding the visual cue, or gesturing.
      The procedure is repeated as needed. 
    • After this procedure has been done a few times, ask students to change places. Another student comes to the front to do the speaking. (And another one may do the choosing.)
    • Continue practice in this manner as needed and appropriate. If students experience difficulties, provide support for them.
  5. Reverse the procedure. (used in b & c above)
    1. Point to one of the “rejoinder” pictures and let the students choose and say the corresponding “contrasting sentence." Students may respond individually (as volunteers or when called on) or as a group. 
  6. Give phonological explanations. (optional, as needed)
    • If students want to have the proper articulation for each member of the contrasting pair explained to them, either go through the appropriate “Phonological Explanations” section with them or just refer them to that section of the book.
  7. Practice with other example words and sentences. (as appropriate)
    • Have students read or repeat the words and sentences illustrating the target sounds of the unit that are listed in the "Additional Practice" and "Example Words" sections.
    • Ask students to find and mark other words in the story that have the same sounds as the targets.
    • If desired, go to the related units listed in the "Additional Practice" section, or else go on to (a) peer-tutoring pair practice with cards or (b) story reading and retelling. 
  8. Peer-tutoring pair practice with cards
    • Group students into "strong-weak" (tutor-learner) pairs or triads.
    • Explain and demonstrate peer-tutoring pair practice procedure for listening.
    • Explain and demonstrate peer-tutoring pair practice procedure for speaking.
    • Explain alternative procedure for triads.
    • Distribute sets of peer-tutoring practice cards
    • Let students practice on their own for a while.
    • If some pairs finish early, have them come up and choose another set of cards.
    • Remind them to switch and reverse roles occasionally. 
  9. Story reading
    • Direct students to the print version of the story told earlier.
    • Explain and demonstrate procedure: One member of pair reads story while partner listens for proper pronunciation of target.
      If OK, smile.
      If not OK, buzz.
      If not sure, “Hmmm?”
    • Tell students, if some parts of the story are especially difficult, to just mark those parts and go on with reading until teacher arrives.
    • Demonstrate procedure by reading story with a few intentional errors. Make sure that class responds appropriately.
    • Let students practice story reading in pairs.
    • Remind students to switch roles occasionally.
    • Allow students to work with new partners.
  10. Practice with Recordings
    • Assign students to listen to recording of story—on tape/CD that accompanies book, or made by teacher. While listening, they should (a) “shadow” the speaker and/or (b) mark the target sounds in the printed story with underlining, symbols, contours, etc.)
    • Assign students to practice and then record their own oral reading of the story at home and bring the tape to class at a later date.
  11. Close reading
    1. Have students delete (black out) chosen or random words or phrases from story and then read it to partner.
    2. Remind partner to listen for proper pronunciation of targets. If OK, smile. If not OK, “buzz.” If not sure, “hmmm?”
    3. Instruct students to delete more words each time they reread the story.
  12. Story retelling from an outline/skeleton
    • Have students create a story outline or "skeleton" and use it when retelling story to partner.
    • Remind partner to listen for proper pronunciation of targets. If OK, smile. If not OK, “buzz.” If not sure, “hmmm?”
  13. Free story retelling
    • Have students retell the story without looking at paper at all.
    • Remind partner to listen for proper pronunciation of targets and respond with smile, “buzz,” or “hmmm?”
    • Ask for volunteers to retell the story to the entire class. Have the class listen for proper pronunciation of targets.
  14. Parallel story creation
    • Assign students to work in groups and create a similar story using the same target sounds but with different characters and actions. Direct them to the "Example Words" and "Additional Practice" sections of the unit for inspiration. If creating a new story is too difficult, have them create a new ending for the existing story.
    • Have a representative from each group tell the story to the whole class.
  15. Skits or role plays
    • Direct students to work in pairs or triads (or larger groups if necessary) and take the parts of characters in either the original story or the one they created.
    • Give them time to practice and then come forward and act out the story in front of the entire class. 
  16. Summary/Conclusion
    • Congratulate students on their progress so far.
    • Remind them of their responsibility to continue monitoring themselves as they use the target sounds—both in and out of class.