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ESL forum > Ask for help > I would really really like to hear your opinion    

I would really really like to hear your opinion

Puerto Rico

I would really really like to hear your opinion
       i have a problem with my 3rd-4th grade students, i have been teaching them the short and long sounds and they know them pretty well. the thing is that i dont see the point in teaching this if in the long run they are not able to use that knowledge to decode words when reading so that they can pronounce words correctly.  when i show them a word, they know if it is a long or short sound, they know how to decode the word to read it, but when they find a word in a sentence that they havent seen before they do not use this knowledge to decode the word, they don īt stop to think.  for example i gave them a list of words and  among them it was the word green and a few others with this sound, so they knew the sound of ee.  every week they have to read to me a little paragraph to improve their skills, this week the paragraph had this sentence: Billy brushes his teeth, out of 26 students 19 of them said teth. when i give these paragraphs i try to choose the ones with words that they havent seen before, because what i try to teach them is to decode, to be able to apply the knowledge in a new context, if i use words they have seen then i would be testing memory and their capacity to remember words. i dont know if i am making any sense to you, but i need your opinion and suggestions. is like when a teacher discuss a story to teach for example the setting and then instead of giving them a new story to apply that, the teacher gives a test of the same story and the same questions they already discuss in the classroom... for me thats wrong, that is teaching memory. if i taught them how the ee sounds and  i give them a word they havent seen adn they are not able to know how to pronounce it, then i feel like i failed... the question is how do i make them aware of this, what do you do?  thks for your time

12 Oct 2011      


Hi Liz!

I īve never in my career went into the trouble to teach phonetics or long and short sounds etc in this sense. I believe that giving them constant input, correct pronunciation when WE speak and they listen, they īll eventually get the sounds right. Plenty of listening exercises help of course, too. 
Now if i notice that a student keeps repeating a wrong sound, I īll insist on correcting him/her every time until they get it right. I usually do this only with very common words, the ones that appear most frequently in spoken language, and I don īt insist on words that we meet in a text let īs say and we may not meet again.

I generally think that the less I try to teach them rules in the conventional way, the better. As soon as they realise they īre being taught a rule, they shut off all communication LOL

12 Oct 2011     

Puerto Rico

i understand but we have a curriculum to follow and this is part of it so i have to teach it even if i dont want to

12 Oct 2011     


there is a very simple trick that you can use connected to a game: Memory!
"ee" belongs to "..." (Well, we in Germany would pronounce it "ih"
"oo" - "uh"  and so on

Do you work with an activeboard or smartboard? Make an exercise with little sentences where your pupils have to fill in a gap the right pronunciation as it would be in your country.

Good luck! Petra

12 Oct 2011