Thursday, November 25, 2010
Tuesday was our day in the computer lab. Not many people showed up for our conversation class due to the Peace Week activities.
Today we finished our review of the front vowels, syllables and word stress. Then we played a game to review the phonetic symbols.
Monday we will start with a mid-central vowel!
Have a great weekend and remember: Peace - think it, say it, do it!
Monday, November 22, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
I hope all our Muslim colleagues had a wonderful holiday yesterday. Eid Mubarak!
Today was conversation day. We played a game called "Three truths and a lie." I started us off by putting my example on the board:
- I used to have rats for pets.
- I don't have a television.
- My mother is a famous artist.
- I have visited 12 countries.
Three of these are true and one is a lie. Can you guess which is the lie? The idea is to think of true things that seem very unusual. You want to deceive your classmates!
I gave you ten minutes to think up your sentences and write them down. Then we got into groups of three to four students to play the game.
I had fun learning very interesting things about each of you! We learned that Ricardo was a famous dancer when he was a child. We learned that Lena's mother has chickens, goats, ducks and rabbits. We found out that our new colleague Svitlana is a geography teacher. She can help me when I don't know where a country is. People educated in America are not very good at geography, I'm afraid.
Oh, and I also got you all to guess which of my statements was a lie. The lie was about my mother. She is an artist, but not famous. I showed you pictures of my pet rat, Stella. She is dead now, but I loved her a lot when she was alive.
Tomorrow we will continue with the lowest front vowel. See you!
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
As I said in class today, we have to take a brief break from vowels to talk about word stress. We talked about words that carry meaning and words that are only necessary for grammar. Words that carry the meaning are called content words. They include nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, negatives, wh- question words, numbers, etc.
Then we have the other words, the little words that are not as crucial to meaning. These we call structure words or function words. They are words like a, the, for, but, I, him, etc. These are the prepositions, articles, conjunctions, pronouns and so on.
To illustrate this, we looked at a telegram or text that you are sending to your friend in Detroit to ask that person to meet your aunt at the airport and interpret for her. We pretended that to send the telegram or text will cost us $5 per word. We really need to save money, so what can we take out?
After we edited the text message, we put the words we kept and the words we took out into two columns. These were our content words and structure words.
Next we talked about the rhythm and timing of English. Unlike French, Spanish, Romanian and Japanese, English is a stress-timed language. What on earth does that mean?
To answer that, we looked at the sentence "Wolves eat sheep." Each content word gets stress. each stressed word is like a beat in music. How many beats are there in that sentence? Yes, three. We clapped it out to get the rhythm.
Then I put in a function word: The wolves eat sheep. Now how many stressed words? Still three. You said it with me and we clapped. What happened? We still only clapped three times. Why? Because "the" does not get any stress. It is very short and soft.
What about when I added another "the?" The wolves eat the sheep. How many stressed beats? Still three. And it takes a native speaker the same amount of time to say this sentence as it does to say the first one. Wow, eh?
Then I changed the sentence to: "The wolves are eating the sheep." Now how long does it take me to say it? How many stressed syllables? It's the same. Three.
This is the key to the rhythm of English!
So now we looked at our new dialogue (still using the /ey/ sound) and practiced saying it with the correct sentence stress. Everyone did a very good job. You are starting to sound more natural every day. Knowing the music of English really helps others to understand you.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Today we covered the other front mid vowel: the /ey/ sound. We started by talking about where in the mouth it is formed. We looked at a diagram of the mouth and compared it to the vowels we have already learned. It is lower than /iy/, but also has an off-glide, as does /iy/. We put our hands on our jaws and felt the jaw drop lower for /ey/ than for /iy/.
After some choral and individual repetition, we started our exercises with listening discrimination. Then we did some minimal pair and minimal sentence exercises. Everyone did great with the sounds in wait and wet, later and letter. I am noticing a lot of improvement in those of you who were with me the last time we covered vowels.
We listened to a dialogue and then practiced it in pairs. Finally we performed the dialogue for the whole class.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
This week really flew by. Tuesday was our bi-weekly computer lab day. Then on Wednesday, I asked you all if you would be willing to spend our class learning how to fold an origami crane. I asked this because I will need a few helpers when we do this activity for Peace Week. You all said yes, you were willing to donate one of our classes to this cause, so that's what we did. Ina, Angela and Lena are good at folding the crane, so I hope they will help me that week.
Because you didn't get your conversation day on Wednesday, we did it on Thursday. So that was a short week!
Monday, November 8, 2010
Today we continued working with the dialogue from Thursday, but we took a look at more than just the vowel sounds. We looked at the intonation of the yes/no questions and the wh- questions. I asked you to tell me what intonation is. We agreed that this is when the voice goes up and down like in music. To learn the music of English, we have to learn the rhythm (syllables, word stress, sentence stress), but also the tones of the language. These are somewhat like the high notes and low notes in music, aren't they?
We listened to an audio recording of the dialogue and I asked you to pay close attention to the intonation of the questions. You asked me to play it a second time, as well.
Next we practiced rising and falling intonation by isolating just the questions from the dialogue. Then it was time to practice the dialogue again. Pairs of you performed it for the class. Great job!
We continued practicing the /ɛ/ sound in place names. Then we practiced a scripted dialogue in pairs and a freer discussion in small groups.
Tomorrow is computer lab day. Don't forget that there are dialogues in Ellis Intro for practicing rising and falling intonation. See you then!
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
- take turns; everyone gets a chance to talk
- speak English
- stay on topic
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Monday, November 1, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
- All vowels are longer before a voiced consonant.
- All vowels are longer in a stressed open syllable.
- Vowels are not held as long before voiceless consonants.
- Vowels are not held as long in unstressed open syllables.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
Thursday, October 7, 2010
- my gender is female
- I am of the female gender
- Bashar's gender is male
- Federico is of the male gender
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
- What is a stereotype?
- Are stereotypes good or bad?
- Where do stereotypes come from?
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Monday, October 4, 2010
- "Your favourite colour is white, isn't it?"
- "You came to Canada three months ago, didn't you?"
- "Bashar's favourite food is chicken, isn't it?"
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Thursday, September 30, 2010
- sentence stress (content words, function words, etc.)
- word stress
- intonation / pitch
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
- What's your favourite colour?
- What's your favourite season?
- What's your favourite food?
- Where do you live?
- When did you come to Canada?
Monday, September 27, 2010
Today we continued talking about rising, falling and level intonation. I asked you which intonation we use in questions. You said rising. I asked you if we use rising in all questions or just certain questions. Together we figured out that we use rising intonation in Yes / No questions, but not in Wh- questions.
I asked if any of you had ever played the game "Twenty Questions." None of you had. I explained the game and showed you some cards I had made up with names of some famous people, some places, objects and jobs. On one side of the cards was the category, such as JOB. On the other side was the name of the job or person or place, etc.
I demonstrated the game for you and then we brainstormed some good questions to ask the person who has the secret. For a person, we came up with questions such as:
- Is the person dead?
- Is the person a celebrity?
- Is the person a man?
- Is the person in politics?
For the category THINGS, one question we often start with is: "Is it bigger than a bread box?" Click here to see a picture of a bread box.
For a job, we can ask things such as:
- Does it pay well?
- Is it a dangerous job?
- Is it an outdoor job?
- Is it physical work?
Next we practiced rising intonation while practicing these questions orally. Then we got into groups of three to play Twenty Questions.
I hope you enjoyed the class. See you in the lab tomorrow!
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
- Name three apples that are red
- Tell me two apples that are tart
- Name three apples that are hard and crisp
- Name three apples that are good in salads
- Name two apples that are green
- Tell me the names of three apples that keep well
- Name two apples that are good in pies
- Name three ingredients you need to bake an apple pie
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
- someone you haven't seen in a year
- someone you are angry with
- your boss
- your teacher
- a little baby
Monday, September 20, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
- Will this be your first fall in Ontario?
- Do the leaves change colour in your first country?
- Are you looking forward to seeing the changing colours?
- Have you ever been to the Muskoka area of Ontario?
- Have you ever been to Quebec?
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
- Except at the end of a sentence, can needs to be short with a schwa sound.
- With regard to rhythm, can doesn't get a full beat.
- When you say can't, I need to hear a nice clear vowel sound.
- Can't does get a full beat.
- Also, Federico noticed that you can often hear a little pause at the end of the word can't. That's the unreleased /t/. He has a good ear!
Monday, August 16, 2010
We have a new student. Welcome, Morgan! That's a pretty name, isn't it?
Today we started class by looking at some comic strips from the Windsor Star. I asked you to notice the bold type and underlining. The cartoonist used bold and underlining to show you which words are most stressed.
Then I asked you about two of the cartoons. What was going on there? Ghadeer said, "They stressed a function word!"
Oh, my goodness. I thought we said that content words are stressed and function words are reduced. We did say that, right? Yes, we did. The characters in the cartoon are breaking that rule. I asked you to think about why we might sometimes break that rule.
Ghadeer said we can break the rule if the function word is important. Exactly! I asked you to think about some situations where a function word might be important. We talked about some of those.
Next we looked at the following sentence written six different ways:
His book is in her desk.
His book is in her desk.
His book is in her desk.
His book is in her desk.
His book is in her desk.
His book is in her desk.
We practiced saying the sentence the six different ways and talked about the nuance of each. They answer different questions. Whose book? His what? Really? On her desk? In whose desk? In her what?
I told you that I am in a situation similar to yours. You often have to ask native speakers to repeat themselves. I also have a situation like that because my boyfriend is a low talker. He mumbles. When you don't understand someone, you don't have to ask for the whole sentence to be repeated. You can just ask for the part you didn't hear. Example: "You're going WHERE?" "Your mother said WHAT?"
Next we practiced some sentence pairs. Speaker A was making a false statement and speaker B was correcting him or her. How did speaker B choose the focus word? The focus word was the word that corrected the false imformation, right? We practiced those orally and then with a partner.
After that we had some more sentence pairs where a function word was sometimes stressed. For example, a store clerk says, "We have the Windsor Star and the National Post." The customer says, "I'll take a Windsor Star AND a National Post."
For our final activity, we were supposed to go around the room and say some statements for each other to see what the response would be. For example: Wen is from Japan. The response would be, as you know, "No, Wen is from CHINA. However, I found that you were all feeling shy today and didn't want to work with anyone but your first partner. That was okay, because we were able to do the homework assignment in class.
The homework was a gap-fill exercise. It was a list of the seven focus rules. When you finished the gap-fill, you had all seven focus rules!
Tomorrow we will finish sentence stress and then start a new unit. See you then!
Thursday, August 12, 2010
A: What do you want to do after class?B: Let's go to the AGW.A: I've already seen the AGW.B: [etc.]