KayLynn's Pronunciation Lessons

Listening Discrimination
(Demonstration Unit)

Many students learning English have trouble distinguishing between various sounds of the English language.  In this lesson, you have the opportunity to discriminate between some of these sounds.

Computer Requirements:
In order to be able to hear the sounds and words in this activity, you need to have speakers connected to your system, as well as having computer software for audio. If you have speakers hooked up, but do not have audio plug-in software, you may download audio software from Netscape.  It's free.  (Be patient.  It might be slow to load.)  Make sure your speakers are turned on. You may adjust the volume as needed.
 

Rationale 
The Lesson 
Name Game 
 

Rationale Behind This Demonstration:
The Need:
Often it is difficult for a native American English speaker to understand the words of non-native speakers. The problem often lies with the confusion of two sounds or segments or the lack of discrimination between two sounds or segments. There is a need for non-native speakers of English to learn the phonemic and allophonic systems of English. However, it is difficult to consciously produce two different sounds when one cannot hear the difference to begin with. For this reason, there is a need to be able to discriminate between the phonemes of English.

The segments which need to be learned are relatively predictable. The pronunciation problems encountered by students will depend, to a large extent, on their language background. Typical problems for Asian students are r~l, s~th, d~th. For Koreans, p~f. For Thai speakers, v~w. Spanish speakers typically have trouble with b~v, ch~sh. Many students have trouble with [i]~[I]. And the list goes on...

The Goal:
This course is (being) designed to improve the pronunciation of the problematic segments for individual students. The goal is for the unintelligible sounds of non-native speakers to become intelligible to native English speakers. This includes being able to discriminate between sounds when heard and understanding how to produce these sounds.

The Objective for this Unit:
Upon finishing this unit, the student will be able to distinguish between stops and continuants (fricatives) with 85% accuracy.

Techniques for this Unit:
1. Lesson explaining the difference between stops and continuants.
2. Students listen and practice in order to develop discrimination ability.
3. Correction as needed, with further explanation or reminders.

Student Exercises:
1. Read about the difference between stops and continuants and listen to the difference and practice mimicking the sounds.
2. Practice discriminating between stops and continuants. This entails listening to a spoken sound or word, then choosing one of two possible answers. One of these answers will be (or contain) a stop, the other a continuant.  Only one answer will be correct.
3. Transcription (spelling, not phonetics):  listen to words and then spell them. (Step 2 requires recognition ability, while step 3 requires recall.)  Spelling must be accurate.
4. Continue practicing until there is enough confidence in the student's ability to be able to pass the unit test.  The student then contacts the teacher for this test.

Evaluation:
When the student or the teacher believes the student to be ready, the student takes a test concerning stops and continuants. The test covers the same points as the exercises and is done in essentially the same format.  The test will be administered by the teacher.  If the student accurately discriminates 85% of the time or greater, the student may continue with the next lesson. Otherwise, it is advised that the student repeat the lesson or ask the teacher for individual help.

The Lesson:
Lesson X
Stops and Continuants

Step 1. EXPLANATION
Some sounds are called "stops" because the airflow from the lungs is completely "stopped" as the air proceeds out of the mouth. It is only stopped for part of a second. For example, if you close your lips together and then try to force air from your lungs (try to say something but your lips are still closed), there is no place for the air to go.  It is stopped. There is pressure building up inside your mouth. Open your lips and release the air. Try it. Depending on what your vocal chords were doing, you probably just made the /b/ or /p/ sound. What characterizes these sounds is that the airflow is completely stopped by the lips.

Some sounds do not completely block the flow of air from the lungs. The air continues going out of the mouth. You can make these sounds and continue making them, without stopping (until you run out of breath!). These sounds are called "continuants". For example, touch your lower lip to your upper teeth. Now let air out of your lungs and out of your mouth. Don't move your lips or teeth. You should be able to continue making this sound until you run out of air. Try it! If you made it right, you've just made an /f/ or a /v/, depending on what your vocal chords were doing. (We'll talk more about the vocal chords in the next lesson.)

Try to make the /b/ or /p/ again.

Now try the /f/ or /v/.

Now listen to the sounds and mimic what you hear.  (Click on the letters below to hear the sounds.)

                                                                    STOPS                                                      CONTINUANTS
                                                               /b/    /p/                         /f/    /v/
 

Continue to listen to the sounds until you can hear the difference between the stops and the continuants. When you're ready, move on to Step 2!

Step 2. LISTENING DISCRIMINATION PRACTICE
Section A. Segments
Instructions: Click on "Listen!" and listen to the segment (sound). Then choose which segment (sound) was made by clicking on that letter (phonetic symbol). Continue this until you reach the end. (There are eight choices to make.)

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1. Listen!
Choose one:
/b/ 
/v/ 
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2. Listen!
Choose one:
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4. Listen!
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5. Listen!
Choose one:
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6. Listen!
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7. Listen!
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8. Listen!
Choose one:
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The Name Game

Instructions:
In this activity, you need to discriminate between very similar sounds. For example, you might have to distinguish "t" from "s", as in "sent" and "sense".
To play this game:
Start with number one. Click on "Listen!" to hear the word. You will see two words.  One of these words is the one which was spoken.  The other word sounds very similar to the one which was spoken.  Click on the word which you think you heard.

The computer will then move to another set of words. Which set it moves to will depend on which word you clicked on.

  1. Click on "Listen!" to hear the word.
  2. Decide which word you heard.
  3. Click on that word.
Yet another set of words will appear. You can continue the process until you choose the correct answer on number 12.

If you choose the correct word each time, you will only hear each word once.  Then you're done, and you've finished the game.

If you find that you're repeating words, this is because you've made an error. However, the computer will not tell you where you made the error!  You will need to go through the words again until you pick all the words correctly!

You can play this again and again. Try to get through all the words without getting "caught in a loop".  Do it faster each time!

 
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1. Listen!
 
Wanda
Vonda
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2. Listen!
 
Eppy
Effie
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Sherry
Cherry
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Sandy
Shandie
 
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5. Listen!
 
Bonnie
Vonnie
 
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Rory
Laurie
 
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Betty
Bethie
 
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Cathy
Cassie
 
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Mary
Mattie
 
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10. Listen!
 
Jerry
Cherry
 
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11. Listen!
 
Tressa
Trisha
 
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12. Listen!.
 
Eileen
Irene
 
 
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   Congratulations!
(Note: If the clown is not moving, click on the RELOAD button.)
 
 
Rationale 
The Lesson 
Return to Game 
 
Go to KayLynn's TESOL Page.
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