How to Teach Connected Speech in English
1. T (teacher) or SS (student/s) write 3 or 4 sentences on the board, with not too many syllables in each – 8-10 will do fine. There should be space between them so there is room to write above and below each one. They could be from the SS’s work or from a real text. SS copy them into their notebooks. T models each sentence and SS repeat – as a group and individually.
2. T asks one student to come to the board. T asks the SS to break a sentence up into syllables. They could draw lines between the syllables, or rewrite the sentence in syllables. T checks that it is correct with the whole group.
3. T elicits the sequence of stressed syllables from the group, and SS marks them.
4. T elicits the stressed vowel sound on each stressed syllable from the group, and SS marks them with Clear Alphabet. This is the ‘Sound Spine’ – the sequence of the most important sounds in the sentence, which must be heard clearly to convey meaning.
5. T asks SS to focus on the weak syllables and elicits whether any of them can be combined with contractions. SS changes the syllables on the board accordingly.
6. T elicits the sound connections between the syllables, and SS marks them:
7. T asks SS to circle VC and F connections. T elicits that VC and F connections are good because they are easy to pronounce.
8. T asks SS to look at the remaining ‘bad’ sound connections with their group or partner. SS should think about the ‘Features of Connected Speech’ (see Talk a Lot Foundation Course) and what we can do to ‘iron out’ the bad connections and make them easier to pronounce. T may need to elicit or explain:
SS sound out the phrases and the whole sentence as they do this work. T monitors, checks, and corrects, then leads group feedback about the decisions taken to make the syllables fit together – to make the sentence easy to pronounce and sound natural.
9. SS write out the sentence – syllable by syllable – using Clear Alphabet. T monitors, checks, and corrects, then leads group feedback.
10. SS repeat the process in their groups with one or all of the remaining sentences – depending on time allocated. T monitors, checks, and corrects. Group feedback at the end. T elicits the main pronunciation point: “So what have we learned from this…?”
- Wait until SS are confident using the method in Stress, Reduce, Merge Part 1 – Sentence Stress (p.69) before running this session.
- SS should be familiar with writing sentences phonetically with Clear Alphabet before running this session, or T could model the Clear Alphabet text on the board and SS learn it by practising during a few of these sessions.
- For further information about the Stress, Reduce, Merge process, see Talk a Lot Foundation Course and Stress, Reduce, Merge.