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Thread: Phonics Tricks Arsenal

  1. #1

    Default Phonics Tricks Arsenal

    I'm aiming to assemble a new lesson plan thing for phonics teaching in ES (or JHS, I guess), and one part of that is tips and tricks for teaching each letter's pronunciation. I've picked up a few along the way, either from other people or guesswork. (In many cases, I've picked these up from here, so no, I don't mean to steal credit. Ampersand is responsible for a sizable number of these. My role is mostly just a collator and organizer, as well as a sample "ALT who knows freaking nothing about proper linguistics" to convince you guys that you don't necessarily need special academic knowledge to put these practical tips to work.)

    So, let's sharing tricks!

    * * *

    Phonics Guide - Rough Draft
    This guide contains explanations of how to get students to pronounce the basic sounds of each letter correctly. It has been compiled from various sources, but mostly from JET ALTs. There are many phonics guides out there, but I find that most of them are full of IPA symbols and linguistic terminology which can be hard to understand for laypeople like myself. This one focuses on practical "how do you get them to say this sound" issues and should be readily understandable by any native English speaker, even without specialized linguistic knowledge.

    Japanese explanations are all in hiragana, for the convenience of ALTs who aren't so good with kanji yet.

    This guide is based on Standard American English, although it should be just about the same for most other forms of English.

    Finally: while most words follow the rules of phonics, there are also "sight words" which must be memorized. (Like "there".) Consonants do not vary much, but vowel sounds can be tricky. Encourage kids to look for patterns on their own and learn as they read.

    Consonants (子音 し・いん)
    (*** = continuous: that is, you can say them indefinitely: ffffffffffffffffffffff, mmmmmmmmmmmmm, nnnnnnnnnnnn but not "b", "p", etc.)
    (SAJ = same as Japanese: the sound is more or less the same as the Japanese phoneme, although in Japanese it is probably usually paired with a following vowel. They will still need to practice the sound in both initial (ban, bed, big, bun, bomb) and final (fab, stab, rub, crib) positions.)

    b: SAJ
    c: hard: SAJ (cat, cave, cake) Soft: (***) same as S; SAJ. (city, civil) Usually soft before an "i", and at the end of words before an "e" (ice, mice, race)
    d: SAJ
    f: (***) bite the lower lip (LIGHTLY), show your front teeth a little, blow air out. Like a deflating tire. したのくちびるをすこしかんで (すこしだけ! タッチです)、くうきをだして。 まえのはをすこしみせて。 (gesture appropriately:)パンクされたタイヤのようなおとに。
    g: SAJ.
    h: (***) Just do the breathing part. Kind of weird, but it's easy to understand.
    j: (***) SAJ
    k: SAJ (same as hard c)
    l: (***) 1) Show them how to touch their tongue (silently). You can mouth-diagram it: draw a straight line for the top of the mouth and then a little square for the front tooth. Touch their tongue about where they do for らりるれろ, but probably a bit farther forward: right behind the front tooth. Have them practice this motion silently. Then, 2) Have them say あ ... that is, more or less an English weak("short") "o" sound, like in pot, cot, mop, top... あああああああああああああ(then do the tongue touch). This is a foolproof way to make an L sound. (If anything, just emphasize that they're not moving their mouth sideways or doing anything beyond saying that vowel and then touching their tongue. Then have them do just the LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL part. Ta da. (やることはふたつです。 いちばんめは「あ」といってください。 (they do it) いいです。 にばんめはしたでまえばのうらをタッチしてください。 それで。。。「あ」といって、タッチしてください。 あああああああああああああああああLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL。 それは「L」です。LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL。) It is impossible to say らりるれろ continuously (I think), so this will help them distinguish the sounds.
    m: (***) SAJ
    n: (***) SAJ? (Although usually shorter)
    p: SAJ
    q: Essentially "k" (or "kw", right, since in English it's just about always followed by a "u")
    r: (***) Like a growling dog. RRRRRRRRRRR! (おこっているいぬのように) Be careful to round the mouth (demonstrate); otherwise you'll have a sort of Chinese-accented sound. The tip of the tongue comes back and points sort of up-ish. I usually tell students not to use the tongue (したをつかわないで), in contrast to らりるれろ.
    s: (***) I like to draw an S and then turn the S into a picture of a snake. SSSSSSS!  (へびのように)
    t: SAJ
    v: (***) Do F, but then do that vibration thing. (voicing?) I like to use the さ/ざ distinction as an example. I sometimes even write it as f with a tenten as a bit of a joke. (Of course, I write it as F and V first...I just then say, "Or maybe, f-tenten, haha.")  (くちは「f」とおなじですけど、ちょっとちがいます。「さ」と「ざ」のちがいです。)
    w: SAJ? A little different? You start with your lips rounded in a small circle, then spread them out into a big circlish shape. (くちびるのかたちはちいさいまるからおおきいまるになります。)
    y: SAJ; sometimes a vowel (same as "i")
    z: (***) voiced "s". Subtly different from the Japanese sound, in that the Japanese ざ has a bit of a dz quality to it.
    ng: raise the back of your tongue to the soft palate (the squishy roof of the mouth, in the back, for people like me who didn't take linguistics) in preparation for saying "g" (well, or "k") and then say "n".

    th: (***) Technically a digraph or whatever, but it's a single sound (with voiced "this" and unvoiced "thank" versions.) And hey, if you count thorn (þ) and such, it's a single letter! Or two. Anyway, I really think it should be included in the initial set: the th-->ざ thing is a common mistake. "th" is also a super-common sound. To explain the voiced/unvoiced versions, I sometimes do the tenten joke here, too. Anyway, I usually do that mouth diagram and have them practice putting the tongue against the underside of their tooth (some JTEs say "bite your tongue", which I'm not sure is one-hundred percent accurate...sure, you do touch against both teeth, but it's more against the top) and blow air out. I also learned a trick at a JET meeting: have them hold tissues in front of their mouths. A proper unvoiced th (thank) will send the tissue flying up, whereas a ざ will not.  したでまえのはのしたにタッチして。 そして、くうきをだして。
    Also, take care that the mouth is a little wide. (くちびるをひろくして)
    It might be helpful for students to put a tenten on any "th"s that are voiced in their books and such. For example: Th"is is a cat. Thank you for th"e ice cream!

    A note on "plosives" (p/b/hard c/k/hard g/t/d): The voiced versions, like the ones at the start of a word not followed by a vowel, are said by stopping the flow of air entirely and then releasing it. ("bar", "car", "par") Sometimes, though, they blend with the next consonant, like in "blue" (it's not "bulue", it's just "blue"). To say blends, just position your mouth to say the plosive, but instead of releasing the air as normal, just say the next letter. So for "blue", put your mouth in the pre-release "b" position, then say "l", and you have "bl". You release the stopped air as you say the second letter.

    Vowels(母音 ぼ・いん)
    "short" vowels: (ah, eh, ih, (aw), uh)
    *: I recommend calling them "weak" vowels (よわい), because they're not actually any "shorter". I contrast them with "strong" (つよい) vowels.
    a: Compared to あ or a weak "o", the mouth is wider (the corners of your mouth are further apart). IPA: æ
    e: Compared to え, "soften" your mouth a bit. (くちをちょっとやわらかくして)IPA: ɛ
    i: Compared to い, "soften" your mouth a bit. (くちをちょっとやわらかくして)IPA: ɪ
    o: Pretty much the same as あ. IPA: ɒ
    u: Say a weak "o" (あ), but then close the mouth halfway. (「o」をいって、くちをすこしとじる。/ はんぶんにとじる。) A JTE at one of my schools compares it to the "uh!" sound you might make if you were punched in the stomach. IPA: ʌ
    schwa: Just about any vowel can become a "schwa", a very weak middle-of-the-mouth vowel. For example, the "a" in "about" (uhbout), the "e" in "her" (hur), or the "o" in "of" (uv). IPA: ə

    Page 7 of New Horizon 1 has "cat", "pen", "milk", "dog", and "bus": five great words for practicing short vowel sounds. (The alphabet chart on pages 8-9 is worse in that it uses words like "ink" and "egg", which are not standard weak vowels.) If you want words with sounds in the initial positions, try "apple", "end", "it", "off", and "up".
    Last edited by Wakatta; May 18th, 2009 at 00:10.
    Quote Originally Posted by katsudon View Post
    Principal: 'genki no nai shapenaa'
    Me: *giggle*
    Principal (turns to me, says): Very old sharpener. I am not as old as that sharpener.

  2. #2
    Senior Member ampersand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wakatta View Post
    f: (***) bite the lower lip, blow air out. Like a deflating tire. したのくちびるをすこしかんで、くうきをだして。 (gesture appropriately:)パンクされたタイヤのように。
    Bite the lower lip lightly, (I've had a kid draw blood.), show your upper teeth, and breathe out.
    h: (***) Just do the breathing part. Kind of weird or creepy, but it's easy to understand.
    H is actually a collection of different sounds, but then so are most consonants. H is simply an unvoiced version of the following vowel. You don't need to teach this, as it works the same way in Japanese.
    l: (***) . . .
    Press the back of the upper teeth with the tip of your tongue. Make sure the mouth is wide. Pressing the aveolar ridge is also perfectly fine. Which you do is just a matter of accent.
    q: Ideas?
    I just treat it like it's the same as K.
    r: (***) Like a growling dog. RRRRRRRRRRR! (Ideas?) (おこっているいぬのように)
    Try to swallow the tip of your tongue, and use your voice. Make sure the mouth is rounded. If the mouth is wide, the R will sound a lot more Chinese than English.
    v: (***) . . .
    Yup, v is just voiced f. And I do the v = f-tenten thing as well.
    w: Is this continuous? I think it is. Anyway. SAJ, probably.
    W is not continuous. It's a glide, like y. You go from as small a circle with your lips as you can to a big circle. It's slightly different than the Japanese version in that the Japanese one goes from a near-closed wide mouth to an open one. Most of the time it doesn't matter, but you can't really say "woo" using the Japanese version.
    z: (***) SAJ (voiced "s")
    Not quite the same as Japanese, but not different enough to hinder intelligibility. The Japanese z starts with bit of a plosive, so it's more like "dz".

    th: (***) . . .
    Biting your tongue versus putting it behind the teeth is a matter of accent. The former is more common, though not exclusively used, in North American English. I do the biting version because it's what I normally do. Again, make sure the mouth is a bit wide.

    vowels: (this is trickier, in my opinion)
    The trick for vowels is that what you probably learned as "short" and "long" in grade school are called that for historical reasons that no longer exist. A better distinction is between "lax" and "tense" vowels. The Japanese vowels are in between the lax and tense English vowels. So, for the short vowels make sure that the students relax their mouths. "口をレラックスして、柔らかくして。"
    a: I think Ampersand said something about "make your mouth wider". I'm not sure I fully got it, though. Also, if I understand correctly, the British "a" is more like a Japanese "a", yes? "Rather" and such.
    The /ae/ style short a, like in cat, uses a wider mouth than /a/, like in cot. The corners of your mouth are farther out. It's also a front vowel instead of a mid to back vowel. Rather than getting into tongue placement, I find that telling the students to make the sound from the front of their mouths works fine.
    e: No idea.
    i: No idea.
    From their Japanese equivalents, have the kids soften their mouths. It works surprisingly well.
    u: A JTE of mine suggested it was kind of like getting punched in the stomach or something? "UH!" Any other ideas? (The stomach-punch almost sounds more like a schwa...but I guess they're similar a lot of the time.)
    This one is actually pretty easy. From short-o, have them shut their mouths halfway. Shwa is pretty similar to short u, but it's even more central and more relaxed. It's the least effort you can put into making a vowel and still make a voiced sound. It's basically a voiced sigh.

    The long vowels, of course, are pretty easy for Japanese-speakers.
    Using the Japanese vowels for English long vowels works, but, at least in NAE, all the long vowels are actually diphthongs of a vowel similar like the Japanese one with a semi-glide y or w, A = /ey/, E = /iy/, I = /ay/, O = /ow/, U = /uw/. If you say them slowly and pay attention you can feel your mouth moving to make the diphthong rather than remaining stationary for a monophthong.

    That all being so, I wouldn't worry about the difference as that's a matter of accent reduction instead of intelligibility.

    One non-Japanese consonant you forgot is ng. For this one, have the kids get their mouths ready to say /g/. (I.e. closing the oral cavity by raising the back of the tongue to the soft palate. /k/ would work as well, but since it's written 'ng', G seems the more natural choice. From their say /n/.

    Still at the level of basic sounds, final consonants and consonant clusters are also something to work on, particularly "plosives" (consonants that involve completely obstructing the flow of air and then releasing it: p, b, t, d, k/c/q, and g in English). In clusters, the plosives are usually unaspirated--there's little air expelled on the release of the obstruction. This contrasts with the aspirated versions that occur alone at the beginnings of words. To pronounce clusters, I tell my students to only prepare the splosive consonant without saying it, then go straight into the next sound. It gets them say "blue" instead of "buhlue".

    Vowel+R is another combination that probably needs to be explicitly taught, especially if your teaching a rhotic accent (one that says "carrrr" instead of "cah"). If the students can do vowels and r properly, the pronunciation isn't to difficult. You just need to point out that "er", "ir", "ur", and "(w)or" are all pronounced the same and that that sound is halfway between short-u and r, rather than a vowel followed by r. (Other vowel sounds+r are pronounced as the vowel followed by r, though of course there is some coloring of the vowel.)

    Now after all that, studies are finding that stress, rhythm, and intonation are more important to intelligibility than individual sounds are. Someone you replaces th with s and z sounds, but has good rhythm and intonation will be near perfectly understandable while someone who makes all the right sounds, but screws up the suprasegmentals will be nigh unintelligible. Don't neglect stress, rhythm, and intonation in your teaching of pronunciation!
    "I have ... relations... with many of the students." -- Sai1

  3. #3

    Default Re: Phonics Tricks Arsenal

    As a senior high school teacher I just want you guys to teach them the following:

    The "th" sound in the, that etc. - it's not bloody "dz"!

    That "i" in "this", "him", "sit" etc. is much shorter and punchier a sound than the Japanese equivalent.

    That "ch" =/= "chi".

    Cheers!

  4. #4
    Али Димаев AliDimayev's Avatar
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    Default Re: Phonics Tricks Arsenal

    How about W. IT seems very few of my students can pronounce it

    Would becomes 'ood.
    <a href=http://www.ithinkimlost.com/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=3134&dateline=1245615339 target=_blank>http://www.ithinkimlost.com/image.ph...ine=1245615339</a>
    Quote Originally Posted by Hyakuman View Post
    As usual, you all (Aliを除く) have your heads up your asses.

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    Senior Member ampersand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marrissey View Post
    As a senior high school teacher I just want you guys to teach them the following:
    Is there a reason you don't teach them?
    "I have ... relations... with many of the students." -- Sai1

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    Senior Member ampersand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wakatta View Post
    l: (***) . . . Then, 2) Have them say any vowel, English or Japanese.. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA(then do the tongue touch). This is a foolproof way to make an L sound. (If anything, just emphasize that they're not moving their mouth sideways or doing anything beyond saying that vowel and then touching their tongue. Then have them do just the LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL part. Ta da
    I've been experimenting with this since you posted it. It works really well. The only detail I'd add is that it seems to work best with having them say "ah"/short o/あ. The wide mouth positions i and e and the narrow one of u make the l sound strange.
    "I have ... relations... with many of the students." -- Sai1

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by ampersand View Post
    I've been experimenting with this since you posted it. It works really well. The only detail I'd add is that it seems to work best with having them say "ah"/short o/あ. The wide mouth positions i and e and the narrow one of u make the l sound strange.

    Oh! Good point! Haha. I actually had not tried it with anything other than an あ, and foolishly assumed it would be fine with whatever.

    I've incorporated your suggestions above. Keep the comments coming, gang!
    Quote Originally Posted by katsudon View Post
    Principal: 'genki no nai shapenaa'
    Me: *giggle*
    Principal (turns to me, says): Very old sharpener. I am not as old as that sharpener.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by ampersand View Post
    Is there a reason you don't teach them?
    Where did I say I didn't? Would be grand if at least the ones who clearly love English had been taught this stuff before they get here at age 15 though. Just pointing out some of the most common ones that seem to slip through the net - Ali's "W" one is another.

  9. #9
    Senior Member ampersand's Avatar
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    Default Re: Phonics Tricks Arsenal

    Oh, and since Wakatta pointed to this thread in another, I'll point out that none of this is phonics. It's pronunciation. Of course, without sufficient skill in pronunciation, a lot of phonics becomes pointless.
    "I have ... relations... with many of the students." -- Sai1

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by ampersand View Post
    Oh, and since Wakatta pointed to this thread in another, I'll point out that none of this is phonics. It's pronunciation. Of course, without sufficient skill in pronunciation, a lot of phonics becomes pointless.
    That's a fair criticism; I suppose this is pronunciation. Still, I mean, isn't there a case for calling it "phonics" on the grounds that we are connecting the written letters to a sound or set of sounds? Even if we don't get into word-level rules for decoding symbols into sounds?

    Perhaps more to the point, I see this as the first part of a larger phonics program: once you have these sounds, you can easily assemble the sounds into simple words (b+a+th="bath"), which is the context in which I use these tricks.

    What I would consider pure pronunciation practice is the standard "JTE writes a word on the board, ALT pronounces it, kids repeat as best they can to associate a string of sounds with this strange foreign kanji pattern". Whereas here, we go "fffffaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnnn" to say "fan".

    So while this isn't phonics, perhaps, unless you want to credit the letter --> sound thing as phonics, it is a guide for getting kids onto the phonics bus, meant to be used in a real phonics lesson. For many kids, this kind of practice is the first time they're taught that letters indicate individual sounds, and are not just pictures that can be combined into single big symbols like "DOG" or "CAT". I feel that's something that could be called the first step into phonics. Could one not reasonably argue that having kids make the FFFFFFFFFFF sound alone is pronunciation, but if you write an "F" on the chalkboard and say, "This means that sound", it becomes primitive phonics?
    Last edited by Wakatta; April 29th, 2009 at 17:14.
    Quote Originally Posted by katsudon View Post
    Principal: 'genki no nai shapenaa'
    Me: *giggle*
    Principal (turns to me, says): Very old sharpener. I am not as old as that sharpener.

  11. #11
    Senior Member ampersand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wakatta View Post
    That's a fair criticism; I suppose this is pronunciation.
    It's not a criticism. It's just what it is. Phonics is the systematic teaching of the relationships between pronunciation and spelling. As I wrote earlier, a certain level of competence in pronunciation is necessary to do phonics, and I teach the basics of phonics simultaneously with the basics of pronunciation. "This is 'f'. When you see 'f', you say /f/. When you hear /f/, it's usually 'f'." That part is phonics. The "Bite your lower lip and blow" part is pronunciation.

    The fact that phonics is a currently a bit of a buzzword while pronunciation has historically been the unwanted bastard child in language instruction doesn't make systematic pronunciation instruction any less valuable.

    What I would consider pure pronunciation practice is the standard "JTE writes a word on the board, ALT pronounces it, kids repeat as best they can to associate a string of sounds with this strange foreign kanji pattern".
    That is also pronunciation practice. It's just a terribly ineffective method, analogous to teaching how to shoot a free throw in basketball by simply demonstrating and saying, "Go like that."

    For many kids, this kind of practice is the first time they're taught that letters indicate individual sounds, and are not just pictures that can be combined into single big symbols like "DOG" or "CAT". I feel that's something that could be called the first step into phonics. Could one not reasonably argue that having kids make the FFFFFFFFFFF sound alone is pronunciation, but if you write an "F" on the chalkboard and say, "This means that sound", it becomes primitive phonics?
    Yes. If you're teaching elementary school (that's your main duty, right, Wakatta?) and having to introduce how an alphabet works, then, yes, that's phonics.

    But if you look at our two long posts, there's nothing in there about how to teach the relationships between sounds and letters, other than the implicit "this letter makes this sound" part. It's all about how to produce the sounds.

    It's still all good.
    "I have ... relations... with many of the students." -- Sai1

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    Senior Member ampersand's Avatar
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    Default Re: Phonics Tricks Arsenal

    Oh, and one more pronunciation point, to get back from out tangent. The English sh sound is different from the consonantal part of し. In し, the mouth is wide, like for /s/ while for the English version, it's rounded like for /o/ or /u/. It's really simple, and my kids have never had trouble with it, but generally won't notice it unless pointed out. The difference has only a small effect on intelligibility, but it's easy to correct, so why not?
    "I have ... relations... with many of the students." -- Sai1

  13. #13

    Default Re: Phonics Tricks Arsenal

    Actually, my main responsibility is JHS. I'm teaching phonics at one JHS school, but at the other school I got the "maybe we can practice it with 3nensei, because they have learned many vocabulary words, but it is too difficult for 1nensei and 2nensei."

    Thanks for the "sh" tip!

    I have one question for you, actually: I looked in the dictionary, and all the weak ("short") "u" sounds were marked as schwas. ... is there a separate weak "u"? I.e., one that is not a schwa? Where does it occur?
    Quote Originally Posted by katsudon View Post
    Principal: 'genki no nai shapenaa'
    Me: *giggle*
    Principal (turns to me, says): Very old sharpener. I am not as old as that sharpener.

  14. #14
    Senior Member ampersand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wakatta View Post
    I have one question for you, actually: I looked in the dictionary, and all the weak ("short") "u" sounds were marked as schwas. ... is there a separate weak "u"? I.e., one that is not a schwa? Where does it occur?
    I'm not a phoneticist, or a linguist of any kind actually, but I suppose it's accent dependent. In my own case, I can feel slight variations between short u and schwa, though the two are very similar. Schwa is even more relaxed than short u. For short u, my mouth is slightly widened, whereas for schwa my lips are completely relaxed. For short u my tongue is pulled slightly back, and for schwa it just lays there. The two are close enough that I don't think using one or the other exclusively would hinder intelligibility. It'd just contribute to having a non-native accent, or at least one not like mine.

    If I replace short u with schwa, I end up doing my impersonation of a dullard or, perhaps more appropriately, a literally slack-jawed yokel.

    ETA: Dictionaries are intended for native speakers, thus their pronunciation guides are phonemic not phonetic. The appropriate allophones of a given phoneme will be produced automatically by a native speaker.
    Last edited by ampersand; April 29th, 2009 at 19:46.
    "I have ... relations... with many of the students." -- Sai1

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by ampersand View Post
    I'm not a phoneticist, or a linguist of any kind actually, but I suppose it's accent dependent. In my own case, I can feel slight variations between short u and schwa, though the two are very similar. Schwa is even more relaxed than short u. For short u, my mouth is slightly widened, whereas for schwa my lips are completely relaxed. For short u my tongue is pulled slightly back, and for schwa it just lays there. The two are close enough that I don't think using one or the other exclusively would hinder intelligibility. It'd just contribute to having a non-native accent, or at least one not like mine.

    If I replace short u with schwa, I end up doing my impersonation of a dullard or, perhaps more appropriately, a literally slack-jawed yokel.
    Yeah, I feel similarly. I was surprised to find that the dictionary seems to consider them identical.
    Quote Originally Posted by katsudon View Post
    Principal: 'genki no nai shapenaa'
    Me: *giggle*
    Principal (turns to me, says): Very old sharpener. I am not as old as that sharpener.

  16. #16
    Senior Member ampersand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wakatta View Post
    Yeah, I feel similarly. I was surprised to find that the dictionary seems to consider them identical.
    Ack, you posted while I was making my edit.

    Your dictionary probably only gives one t and one l in its pronunciation guide, right? But how many different sounds do those symbols actually represent. For example, are the t's in top, stop, pot boiler, city, and button the same? What about the l-sounds in lull?
    "I have ... relations... with many of the students." -- Sai1

  17. #17

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    Ok - I'm at my wit's end. I can teach students just about every sound except the "woo" in "would". I explained it just the way you guys have (start close, go wide) but none of my students come that close to getting it right - they still always sound like they're starting with "oo". Any ideas?

  18. #18
    Senior Member ampersand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marrissey View Post
    Ok - I'm at my wit's end. I can teach students just about every sound except the "woo" in "would". I explained it just the way you guys have (start close, go wide) but none of my students come that close to getting it right - they still always sound like they're starting with "oo". Any ideas?
    If they sound like /u/, then that's what they're doing instead of /w/. Can they make /w/ in isolation? This is one where you have to watch what they're doing as well as listen. Diphthonging /u/ with another vowel will sound a whole lot like /w/, but as as you're discovering, you can't make a diphthong of /u/ and /u/ or /u/ and /ʌ/.

    Once they can make /w/ in isolation, take the Sesame Street approach and work from separate isolated sounds and gradually reduce the separation until it becomes continuous.
    "I have ... relations... with many of the students." -- Sai1

  19. #19

    Default Re: Phonics Tricks Arsenal

    Yeah, sound advice which I've actually tried already. They can make the "w" sound and the "ould" sound (as in "good") but they just can't make the two together. Hopefully if we keep practicing over a couple more months they can get it. My JTEs can't do that sound either though, so I'm thinking it's one of the hardest for Japanese people to get.

  20. #20
    Senior Member ampersand's Avatar
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    Default Re: Phonics Tricks Arsenal

    Hrm.

    Have you checked that they can discriminate between, for example, "woo" and "oo"?
    "I have ... relations... with many of the students." -- Sai1

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