Pronunciation Problems

Teaching point: 
Long versus short i.
Comedy sketch
Pronunciation problems by Mark Hancock

The long and short i sounds cause problems for a lot of learners, who cannot hear or produce the difference between pairs of words like bin and bean. Sometimes there can be funny confusions as a result, for example between sheet and shit or piece and piss. These dialogues show examples of such misunderstandings (download/open PDF below)

1. Get students to read the dialogues and identify the cause of the misunderstandings.

2. Ask them to read it out in pairs. Get them to dramatize the situation as in a comedy sketches.

3. Pairs perform their sketch to the rest of the class. The rest of the class must produced the 'canned laughter' sound effect.

Students usually enjoy this activity, and it really forces them to make a difference between the pairs of words sheet and shit and piece and piss, because if there is no obvious difference, then the comedy sketch isn't funny any more. As a side benefit of the activity, students get to see and practice repair strategies. Despite any amount of pronunciation work they do, there will always be misunderstandings, and it's best to be ready to deal with these effectively.

See also "Air Traffic Control" for another activity to work on the bean - bin distinction.

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I am doing a motivational workshop to try to encourage students to go out an find various learning opportunities. I would like to recommend your site as it is entertaining and helpful. Could I use the cartoon and dialogues of piss & shit? Please send written confirmation if this would be okay. Thanks very funny and good work!
Mark Hancock's picture

Thanks Malaika! Yes, go ahead and use that cartoon! Mark

Hi Mark At last have got a request for correcting the pronunciation of a few Indian engineers. I am planning to use your book. Where can I buy it, and how long will it take to reach me in India? Regards Lalitha

Hi Mark, I am working on my research project and I consider these cartoons and dialogues would be handful for my project, could I use them? Please send written confirmation if this would be okay
Mark Hancock's picture

Dear Daniel Yes, of course you can use them for a research project. Actually, we are just about to publish them ourselves as part of a book called 'PronPack: Pronunciation for Spanish Speakers' which is due out this summer. Good luck with the project!

Dear Mark, I'm delivering my pronunciation course and I'd like to use this activity as a follow up to one of my activities. I have already recommended your site to the teachers and I'd like to know if I can post the link to this great activity on my Google Classroom. Cheers, Thelma
Mark Hancock's picture

Yes, of course Thelma!

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