A lesson on connected speech – Intermediate/B1 onwards

It’s been a long time since I last posted. I have been very busy, but I will try to post here more often. I feel happy and energised, and I’m convinced this will be a great year for us all.

dua-lipa-new-rules-clipe-2017

The lesson

When it comes to teaching English, I think features of connected speech tend to be overlooked. That is why I wanted to start this series of posts with a lesson focusing on a feature that might be hard or tricky to some learners. Elision is a natural feature that happens in many languages. For instance, according to Swan & Smith (2001), Spanish speakers tend to omit the first or the last consonants from clusters. In Brazilian Portuguese, it is common to elide the final /r/ in verbs in the infinitive, such as amar. How do we help learners deal with elision then? Well, I think the first step is to show them it exists, and how it happens in English. As in many cases, awareness is key.

This lesson deals with elision in the context of relationships. I chose to work with the song New Rules (by Dua Lipa, 2017) not only because it contains samples of elision, but also because this song empowers women to take control and not accept just anything when it comes to relationships with men. In that regard, the song is relevant both in terms of teaching material and practical advice.

Do let me know what you think about this post, the content and whether you decided to adapt these ideas. I find the video very interesting too, so if you have ideas about how to incorporate it, I’d love to know. Happy teaching!

Stage & Learning Outcomes Procedures
Lead-in
(to set the context and engage students in the topic)
Teacher asks students if relationships these days are how they used to be. In pairs, Students discuss for two minutes.

 

Teacher gets feedback on the differences, similarities.

Pre-listening (to activate schemata on relationship problems, pre-teach vocabulary) Teacher gives students  worksheet 1 and they need to figure out if the sentences refer to old rules of relationship or new rules.

 

Teacher checks answers and meanings.

Listening
(to listen for the gist)
 Teacher tells students they are going to listen to a song. Students should decide if the song is about new rules or old rules. Teacher highlights students will listen for the general idea and it is not necessary to understand every word.

 

Students listen to the song.

 

Teacher gets feedback.

Description and analysis
(to provide oral and written illustrations of how elision is produced and occurs within spoken discourse)
Teacher says students are going to listen to the song again, but the parts of the lyrics in italics are written similarly to the way people speak. Students need to write the correspondent written form. Teacher models the first one.
Teacher gives students worksheet 2.Students listen to the song again.Students check in pairsTeacher gets feedback, boards the answers.

 

Teacher elicits why sounds disappear in some object pronouns and why some are pronounced.

Teacher shows answers and elicits stress. Teacher elicits and shows stressed parts of the sentences:
Don’t let him in.
You have to kick him out again.

I’ve got new rules, I count them.
I’ve gotta tell them to myself.

Listening discrimination (to provide focused listening practice with learner’s ability to correctly discriminate elision) Teacher tells students they will listen to five sentences of people reacting to the song. Students need to indicate if sounds disappear or not. Teacher gives them worksheet 3. Here I encourage you to have some good non-native English speaker teachers record the sentences. You’ll be providing students with models that they are numerically more likely to be exposed to.

 

Students do the exercise.

 

Students check in pairs.

 

Teacher checks answers, plays recording again if necessary.

Restricted practice
(to raise learners consciousness on elision)
Teacher divides the class in Student A and Student B. Teacher tells students they are going to read a dialogue and each student has a role. Teacher hands in worksheet 4. Teacher tells students to pay attention to the colors in the text, as they will indicate which sounds are going to disappear. Teacher highlights students need to try to read in a normal or fast pace, not too slow. Teacher tells students to pay attention whether their partner makes the indicated sounds disappear.

 

Students do the task. Teacher monitors.

 

Teacher asks if students noticed if their partners made sounds disappear.

Freer practice
(to offer more structured communication practice to enable the learner to monitor for elision)
Teacher tells students to work individually on their own relationship rules. Students write 5 sentences about how they think relationships should be like. Students complete:
1- Ask him/ her/ them…
2- Tell him/ her/ them…
3- Let him/ her/ them…
4- Kiss him / her/ them when…
5- Help him/ her/ them with…Students write. 
Communicative practice (to practice paying attention to form and content) In trios, students share their relationship rules and justify their sentences.

 

Students share their ideas in groups.

 

Teacher gets feedback and gives feedback.

14 thoughts on “A lesson on connected speech – Intermediate/B1 onwards

  1. Great lesson, thanks! Just a quick point, in worksheet 4, the instructions tell the students to make the coloured sounds disappear, but actually they should be making the sounds in between the coloured sounds disappear.
    Eg. in, ‘I’ve never heard of her’, f and er are coloured, so if we made them disappear, it would sound like, I’ve never heard oh.
    Otherwise, great lesson though. 🙂

    • Thanks for pointing that out, Ben! I guess I must have copied and pasted and it changed the colors. The way it was it wouldn’t make any sense. I’ve just corrected it. 🙂

  2. Fantastic lesson! I think I’ll try to adapt it using a different song for some of my professional adult students!

  3. T.Veiga,
    Awesome lesson plan. I liked It a lot. I am going to use It with my students and maybe develop a project with then as well on gender equality.
    Congrats

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