Woman and Wolf

A2 upwards
Teaching point: 
The phoneme /w/
/w/ before /u/; /w/ and spelling
Rap and maze
Woman and Wolf - hancockmcdonald.com/materials/woman-and-wolf

The English phoneme /w/ presents difficulties for learners from a wide range of language backgrounds, but not always for the same reason. Some pronounce the /w/ like a /v/ so that west becomes vest. Others interpret it as a vowel sound, so that woman becomes ooman. Some precede it with a /g/ so that went becomes gwent. And even learners who are able to pronounce it fine may be mislead by spellings such as answer, where there is no /w/, despite appearances. The activities on this worksheet, taken from PronPack 5,  include a rap activity, providing oral practice of a text with a heavy density of the /w/ phoneme, followed by a maze activity, providing an awareness-raising exercise relating to how the sound relates to the spelling. For more information specifically about Spanish speaker's difficulties with /w/, see this article.

Rap Activity

1. Give out The worksheet Woman and Wolf. Read out the poem and check understanding. Alternatively, you may use the audio of the rap provided here (or the second audio, which is the backing music without the voice). Students may ask for the meaning of wicked (= bad, evil)

2. Say each line and ask the class to repeat it. Listen and check their pronunciation. Make sure they don’t make the /w/ sound like a /v/, /g/ or /u:/.

3. Get the whole class in chorus to say the poem together, being sure to stress the bolded syllables.

Maze Activity

1. Tell the students to look at the maze and find a route from the top left to bottom right. They can go through a ‘room’ only if the word contains the sound /w/. Note that some words contain /w/ but no letter w, and others contain the letter w but not the sound /w/!

2. Go through the first two or three words together as a class to get them started. Then leave them to work though it on their own.

3. Check the answers together. 

4. Get students to say the words in the correct route and check they don’t mispronounce the /w/.

Answer Key

west – quick – tweet – swim – would – when – queen – once – twice – work – away – sweet – white – winter - woman

Accent variation note: In some accents, in words which begin with the letters wh-, speakers may pronounce an /h/ before the /w/ (not after, as in the spelling). This happens for example in some parts of the USA, Scotland and Wales. Elsewhere, the h is silent in these words.

This lesson material is taken and adapted from PronPack 5: Pronunciation of English for Spanish speakers (Hancock McDonald ELT 2020). More information about this book here.

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