Helping students to sound English

1) Finger correction

  • The teacher holds up a hand (or both hands) in front of the class.The teacher indicates by pointing to each finger (or by moving each finger) that each finger represents a word of a sentence that has just been said by a student. By pointing to spaces between fingers, joining fingers, separating fingers, etc. the teacher indicates missing words, liaisons, phrases, pauses, etc. Other gestures indicate removing words, adding endings, accentuation and melody. It is a way of making the sentence visible and giving it permanence in time so that it can be worked on without writing it down. No analysis or explanation is needed on the part of the teacher. Students rapidly work out the conventions for themselves.
  • The teacher does the same thing, but using the fingers of a student. This way the student not only sees but also feels the sentence. It is particularly useful for students who have difficulty in paying attention.
  • The teacher can ask the students to say how many words there are in a sentence by counting on their own fingers.

2) Strokes on the board

  • The teacher represents a sentence by strokes on the board. For example, the sentence: « What’s your name? » is shown as « ____’_ ____ ____? » or even « _____ ____ ____? » (Young learners, at the beginning, do not necessarily need to know that « what’s » is two words). As compared with finger correction, the dynamics of the sentence are not transmitted by the teacher’s body, but the strokes have the advantage of remaining in place for all or part of a lesson. Two or more sentences can be compared.
  • A short text, dialogue, poem or song can be represented in this way.
  • The teacher can add an undulating line above the strokes to indicate intonation.
  • Other marks can be added to indicate stress and yet others for the schwa (neutral « e » sound).
  • Students can be asked to come and represent sentences in the same way.

3) Cuisenaire rods (or similar objects: Lego, plastic cubes)

  • Another technique for making the structure and sound of a sentence visible. The teacher represents the words of a sentence by rods placed in a line on a table. Stress can be indicated by adding a small white rod on top other rods. Students can be invited to come and do this and also to group rods to indicate phrases or to shape the line of rods to indicate intonation.
  • The words in the sentence can be colour coded to indicate the verbs, auxiliaries, endings, etc. Students can be invited to represent sentences following the conventions of the colour code.

4) Gestures

  • The teacher can make gestures in the air to so that students can see the rhythm and intonation of a sentence.
  • The students can be invited to make the same gestures so that they feel the rhythm in their own bodies.

5) Tapping and clapping

  • The teacher can clap so that the students hear the number of beats (syllables) in a word or sentence. The claps can be louder or quieter so that they hear the difference in energy (the tonic accents).
  • The teacher can ask the students to clap themselves so that they feel for themselves. If the teacher is not sure of clapping correctly (non-native adults can find this difficult at first) the students can be asked to clap on their own in time to a recorded dialogue, poem or song. It’s not important if they make some mistakes at the beginning that the non-native teacher does not notice. Practice will make them sensitive to the different rhythms of the foreign language. (The teacher will improve, too, though maybe not as fast the students!)
  • It can help some students if the teacher taps the rhythm directly on the student’s body. Depending on the student, this can take the form of gentle taps on the hand or of hearty shoves between the shoulder blades.

6) Walking and stamping

  • The students walk round the room in time to a sentence or rhyme to feel the energy of the language by walking faster or slower, by stamping on the stressed syllables, etc.
  • In two groups, the students face each other. Each group holds hands.
  • The first group walks half way towards the other, chanting a question.
  • The second groups, walks to meet the first group, chanting the answer.

7) Humming

  • The teacher hums a sentence that the students have been working on. The students have to say what it is.
  • Students take turns humming sentences and the others guess.

8) Imitating accents

  • The teacher invites the students to say international words (hello, football, telephone, hotel, taxi…) with different accents: French, Chinese, English, German, American…
  • The students are asked to say a phrase in their own language with different accents, including English.

9) Saying in a sentence « in your head »

  • The teacher asks the students to say a sentence but not aloud, just in their heads.
  • When they can make the sentence sound really English in their heads, they are invited to say it aloud.

10) Shadowing

  • This means not repeating after a recording in the traditional way, but speaking with the recording, in the same way as one would to learn a song. The phenomena of induction will cause the students to make their voices resonate with the model without having to intellectually analyse the sounds. Nor do they need to memorise anything.
  • At first the recording can be played relatively loud and the students speak very softly or even just sub-vocalise. The recording can be played over and over again with the volume being turned progressively down and the students speaking louder and louder. This exercise can be done by students working alone at home.

11) Saying sentences different ways

  • Ask students to say a sentence, very slowly, very quickly, very quietly or very loudly (only if they feel sure of themselves). Ask them to say it to express different emotions: surprise, anger, pleasure… Ask them to say it assuming different roles; a policeman, a grandmother, a very young child, ET…
  • This is a way of giving stronger students a challenge while giving weaker students the time they need to practice.

12) Boxes on the board (minimal pairs)

  • If students tend to confuse two sounds, draw two boxes of different colours on the board.
  • Using flashcards with either pictures or printed words, ask the students to « place » words either in one box or the other.
  • The flashcards can be fixed in the boxes with « blutack » to stick them to the board.

13) Tricks of the trade

  • To get students to pronounce the /h/. Ask them to put a hand in front of their mouths and to « warm » it gently. Or ask them to imagine they are cooling their soup.
  • To get them to say the « th » sound, don’t tell them to stick out their tongue, but to put their tongue against their top teeth and pull it in sharply as they speak.
  • For the « ng » sound make a gesture to indicate air coming out of the nose and at the same time a gesture of constricting the throat.
  • Find gestures to help with other sounds. It doesn’t matter if the teacher is ignorant of how sounds are articulated; the important thing is to get the students to change something in mouth, throat, breathing, etc. to produce a different sound.

For videos : active listening & watching techniques for children

Before showing the film

Elicit the children’s knowledge of the subject or theme. Show the title and / or the first images and ask the children to imagine what is going to happen.

During the visualization

Ask the children, when they hear a certain word, phrase or structure, to :

Raise a finger. Touch or show a picture or an object. Make a gesture. Do an action. Say the word or phrase.

Ask the children to count the number of times they :

See a person, animal, object or action. Hear a given word, phrase or structure.

Ask the children to notice :

Something new. The name of something. Something the same as something else (a previous story, a picture, etc.) Another way of saying something known. Ex: Goodbye / Bye bye. Something said by a given character. A specific piece of information.

Ask the children to speak :

At the same time as one or more of the characters (on 2nd or later viewing). To the characters (warn them, tell them what to do, etc.)

Show the film with no sound, stop frequently and ask the children to :

Describe what’s happening. Say what’s already happened. Imagine what’s going to happen next. Imagine a dialogue. Watch a person’s mouth and guess what they’re saying.

Cover the screen, or ask the children to close their eyes, and ask them to listen and :

Guess who’s speaking. What’s happening? where? when?

Position the class so that only half the children can see the screen. With or without the sound.

Those that can see describe what they see to the others. Those that can’t see ask questions.

Half the class sees one side of the screen and half the other. Stop the film frequently.

The children share information to work out what’s happening.

Play a sequence backwards

The children work out what happened in the correct order.

After viewing the film

The children put pictures, objects, written words or sentences in the chronological order of the film. The children draw scenes from the film in chronological order with a few « speech bubbles. » In small groups the children act out the film with or without dialogue. Children, individually or in small groups, mime something from the film. The others guess what it is. Write on the board: What? Where? Who? How many? etc. The children ask each other questions about the film. Teacher/child recounts the film with deliberate mistakes, the other children correct them. Teacher/child assumes the identity of a character, the children ask questions to discover who it is.

Anglais à l’école primaire : Documents officiels

Enseignement des langues en primaire-Besançon Portail Langues
le BO hors série n°8 du 30 août 2007 Programmes de langues étrangères pour l’école primaire
Enseignement des langues vivantes à l’école CNDP.
EduClic Le portail des professionels de l’éducation.
EduScol Langues Vivantes à l’Ecole
PrimLangues Ressources en ligne
Document d’accompagnement Anglais cycle 3  
Primlangues Le site d’accompagnement pédagogique de l’enseignement des langues vivantes en primaire.
Des exemples de progressions en anglais Inspection académique de la Charente-Maritime
Progression CE2-CM2 Inspection académique de Dijon
Ressources pédagogiques pour l’anglais Exploitation d’albums — Inspection académique de Dijon
Mallette pédagogique pour les assistants à l’école primaire  Beaucoup d’idées – facile à mettre en pratique.
Ressources pour l’école primaire Liens vers des exercices directement en rapport avec les objectifs du programme — Académie de Nancy-Metz. 
Ressources – Chansons 30 traditional songs sung by Claude Vollaire accompanied by guitar. Includes texts and exercises. — Académie de Nantes
Exercices interactifs en ligne Académie de Poitiers