Monday, January 25, 2010

Leavin' so soon? But we just started learning about linking and disappearing sounds.

Friday Foreign Communication

I am only getting around to posting Friday’s class because I was quite busy on Friday. This was our last class for the semester, as the next class will be the final exam. As usual, we started with a review test, and then we looked at unit 15, the last unit in the book, which focused on the end of an evening when it’s time to go. I dictated some questions, and after answering them, I had them repeat after the CD. We then practiced several expressions in the textbook covering the basics on how to end an evening, how to keep a guest longer and how to finally say goodbye. I first had them repeat after me, and then I had them read and repeat after each other. By the time we finished we only had about 30 minutes left, so I had them do task 4 in the textbook which was a conversation construction task similar to the ones I had been making. I gave them about 7 minutes to practice and remember the conversation, but as the time was almost up, I noticed that some students were still having difficulty remembering the dialogue, so I gave them a couple extra minutes before having several pairs present. Finally, as we did not have enough time to look at the pronunciation activity – contrastive stress – I gave them the outline of the test.


Thinking back to the contrastive stress worksheet, it made me reconsider what I had been doing this semester with regarding to pronunciation teaching. I have come to believe that what is really important for them is not so much word stress or contrastive stress, but rather linking and disappearing sounds because they are more pertinent for listening comprehension in that they are ubiquitous in all utterances whereas something such as contrastive stress is not. I also think that having only one class a week is not enough really to help students understand the rules because they are in fact rules and once you know them or at least are fully aware of them, I think listening to English can become easier for some students. Of course there are still things such as slang and vocabulary which need to be dealt with, but perhaps if a student can grasp such topics as linking and disappearing sounds, he or she may be able to catch these words better, and thus further their understanding. I think therefore that next year, I may focus more of my lessons on those two aspects of listening comprehension. I could focus on these things in class, and then assign listening homework, or have the students find something they like, and ask them to try to highlight those links and disappearing sounds for next class. It may be an idea that just might work.

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