Favourite phoneme fillers 2

Published on 3rd March, 2011 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

Carrying on from last week, here are two more phoneme fillers.

Telephone number swap. Students draw an empty grid with 9 + 1 squares (for numbers 0–9). Do an example on the board and write in a different problem phoneme in each of the 10 squares, for students to copy, eg /θ/ in square 3. In the bottom left-hand corner of each square, also write numbers 0–9 (one number each). Then dictate some questions, such as:

1  What are the first three digits of your phone number?
2  What’s the best age to get married?

They answer independently and in secret. They then work in pairs to tell each other the answers, but instead of saying the actual numbers, they should give the ‘phoneme code’, eg they just say the sound from that number square. For numbers over 9, they can give two phonemes and indicate that this is one number, not two, eg for question 2, if 18 years is the answer, they give the phonemes in squares 1 and 2.

Nonsense sentences. Put three sounds on the board that your students have particular problems with (in a monolingual group, you could select just one) For example, this could be /ʧ/, /eə/ and /h/. Use three different colours for each of the problem sounds, then draw three sacks on the board: one for adjectives, one for nouns and one for verbs. Students brainstorm words with each phoneme to fill each sack. Use the colours to distinguish between words using the different phonemes. Then students in pairs choose their phoneme, and make a nonsense sentence, using the word sacks to assist, eg for /h/, they might create a sentence like: With a heavy heart, Harry hurried over the hills to the hotel. This task appeals to some learner types and not others, so use it sparingly! Drill if appropriate and let students perform their sentence to their classmates.