Pronunciation Problems

Levels: 
A1
Teaching point: 
Long versus short i.
Theme: 
Misunderstanding
Activity: 
Comedy sketch
Pronunciation problems by Mark Hancock

The long and short i sounds cause problems for a lot of learners, who cannot here 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 practise 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.

Resources: 
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