The end of our first semester is quickly coming to an end. I can't believe how fast the months have passed since we first opened in September. We finished up the first part of our speaking and listening program at the end of January, and then had a two-week intensive writing program consisting of two writing workshops in the Basic (A), Basic (B) and Pre-intermediate courses.
This week we're having a review of the semester with a special emphasis on problem areas faced by most of the students. I was able to observe some of this difficulties during the writing workshops, and have accordingly planned lessons to address these issues.
For today's lesson, I planned a pronunciation lesson of simple past forms. Prior to the lesson, Shally and I had a mini-training session on teaching pronunciation. The textbook we're using for our courses doesn't provide enough activities on pronunciation, so I thought this be a good time to introduce the students to a pronunciation lesson. Shally taught the lessons on his own today to because familiar with the lesson procedure for teaching pronunciation. Once the second semester begins in mid-March, we'll have a few team-teaching sessions.
The concept of the lesson was the same for both the Basic and Pre-intermediate courses, but the activities were slightly more difficult for the Pre-intermediate class. The lesson focused on the different pronunciations for simple past forms: /t/, /d/ and /id/. Many Cambodian students have trouble with simple past pronunciation because they don't have access to audio material nor dictionaries. The purpose of this lesson wasn't to have them sound like a native-speaker, but to make them aware of the sounds so that when they come across a similar word, they can work out the pronunciation by themselves. I also wanted Shally to get across that it's not necessary for the students to sound like a native-speaker, but to avoid misunderstandings that may be caused by pronunciation difficulties.
From Shally's observation notes, he commented that the Basic courses had the most difficulty with the critical thinking part of the lesson. Students had to pronounce a series of words in the past tense and organize them into a table under the headings of /t/, /d/ and /id/. For example, students would have to put "walked" in the /t/ group, "kissed" in the /d/ group, and "decided" in the /id/ group.
For the Pre-intermediate course, they had less difficulty with the sorting idea, but they were very interested to learn that there were actually pronunciation differences when using simple past forms.
For next semester, Shally recommended that we have more pronunciation classes in conjunction with our speaking lessons so that the students get more practice. He believes that the students need more exposure to these types of activities so that they become better speakers. I definitely agree.
Back to the books,
The Bayon English Academy (BEA) is an NGO school that provides underprivileged youth with quality English language education in a safe, clean environment in Siem Reap, Cambodia.