Pasta Pron Rhyme

Levels: 
A2, B1
Teaching point: 
Connected Speech and Accent
Theme: 
Funny Food Rhyme
Activity: 
Chanting
Pasta Pron Rhyme - hancockmcdonald.com/materials/pasta-pron-rhyme

Project the image and do any or all of these activities:

1. Play the audio. You hear the poem twice – once straight through with no pauses, and then with a pause after each line. The pause allows the listener to mentally ‘replay’ the line, or repeat it. There is a drum beat keeping the rhythm.

2. Point out that the bolded syllables fall on the beat of the rhythm. They are the stressed syllables.

3. Point out that the speaker reduces the vowel to schwa in all of the syllables shown in red. Speakers often reduce the vowel in unstressed syllables in this way.

4. Point out the links. Speakers often link words together, especially when one word finishes in a consonant sound and the next one begins with a vowel sound. Note that ‘his’ begins with a vowel sound in this instance because the speaker drops the ‘h’. Speakers often drop the ‘h’ in pronouns and auxiliary verbs such as ‘have’.

5. You could mention the accent variables underlined in green:

a. Where the letter ‘r’ occurs after a vowel (and not before one), many speakers don’t pronounce it (England, Wales, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa). Other speakers do (North America, Scotland, Ireland).

b. Where the letter ‘t’ occurs between vowels, or between ‘r’ and a vowel, many speakers make it softer, similar to a ‘d’ (North America)

c. In words like ‘faster’, some speakers pronounce the ‘a’ as a long vowel (Southern England)

d. The first vowel sound in daughter and water is different in American and British English. It is shorter and more open in American.

6. You could use the poem as a pronunciation drill. Try using the karaoke version of the audio and modelling it in your own voice.

7. Try drilling very short segments if there are interesting pronunciation features, for example where there are links. You could ‘loop’ the segments – repeat the short fragment several times, like this:

can eat it, can eat it, can eat it, can eat it

Note: Activities which focus on connected speech like this are more important for listening skills than for production. For example, if students do not use the schwa, they will still be intelligible. However, they will hear people use the schwa when they're listening. Attempting to produce it themselves is a good way of becoming more aware of it.

This poem appeared in English Pronunciation in Use Intermediate (CUP) by Mark Hancock.

Resources: 
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