"Radical phonology"

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"Radical phonology"

Are you tired of meaningless drilling and bored of minimal pairs? Do de-contextualized phonology activities just not work for your learners?

Would you like to develop learners' confidence in their pronunciation and clarity in speaking and let them practise with meaningful phrases that could even change society?


(c) Felicity Kersting

Lesson one:

Choose one of the "Ready lessons" or "Quizzes" (see left) from this wiki to get learners interested in some of the global justice topics, or let them choose some Easier English articles to read and discuss.

Then tell them they are going to have a protest march around the room (school?) to raise awareness about the issue. They can make banners, but need to chant very clearly so others can understand their message.

Learners, in groups, can extract key words to create their own chants.

Or you can suggest some chants to work on eg. "Equality for Women" "End Slavery Now" "No More Fracking" "Stop Wasting Food" "Invest in our Future: Divest from Fossil Fuels"

Make a short video of the learners saying some of these chants as your starting point.

Now work on the pronunciation of the chants, to make them as clear as possible:

a) work on individual sounds eg. contrast "women" and "woman", work on consonant clusters in "slavery" "fracking", work on particular phonemes your learners have problems with

b) work on utterance stress and intonation eg. the weak form of "for" in "Equality for Women", the rhythm, stress, intonation and weak forms in "Invest in our Future: Divest from Fossil Fuels"

Learners can practise for homework, recording themselves and listening again to perfect sounds and suprasegmentals.

Lesson two:

Learners can start by marching around the classroom chanting.

Then, in groups, they create more chants from researching more global justice topics on this wiki. Groups keep the words of their chant secret from the other groups.

The teacher will need to work with the groups on sounds, stress, intonation and features of connected speech until they get them as clear as possible. They can also be encouraged to check pronunciation in dictionaries if they know the phonemic script and/or on internet pronunciation sites.

Then set up a "shouting dictation", with groups of students divided at opposite sides of the room with music playing between them. Learners have to shout their protest chant as clearly as possible to the others, who have to write down what it is.

Afterwards, compare the dictated chants to the actual ones and check for clarity of pronunciation.

Homework (in pairs/groups?) is to create another protest chant from this wiki or any other issue learners feel strongly about.

Subsequent lessons:

Quick warmers / energisers can be built into a series of lessons, getting learners to create and practise more protest chants. This should improve confidence with new/difficult sounds and consonant clusters, improve clarity of pronunciation and awareness of sounds, stress and intonation in a higly meaningful context.

When they have improved (shouldn't take long!) make another video of them chanting, and show them both this and the original video to show how much their pronunciation has improved.

And it may even help learners go out on the streets and take part in or organize real protests.....

More information (and short video) here: Prezi presentation on "Radical Phonology" for Accentuate NATECLA/IATEFL Pron SIG conference, London 21.2.15: https://prezi.com/q6ayng_evuaz/radical/