Monday, 6 May 2013

R is for Rubber Band...

It’s going to be the first post in a series dedicated to my dearest literacy students. I’ll have to confess that it’s been long overdue and that for the last three years I kept postponing it. Three years ago, I got a job as an ESL Literacy instructor and so far consider it to be the best thing that happened to me in my almost 10 years in adult ESL. When I started teaching literacy, I was terrified by the mountains of challenges ahead of me and I realized that I knew nothing and had to learn everything from scratch. Then, I didn't know that my very best teachers would be my own students. Today, I appreciate every single moment spent in the classroom with them...

I chose this post to be my first one because I think it will be pretty short.

Some time ago I came across a very interesting video Straight Up English - Teaching Word-Stress  on YouTube about teaching word stress using rubber bands. I liked the idea but I did not know how and when I could apply it with my students. I bought a pack of rubber bands at the Dollar store to keep them handy for the right moment. I did not have to wait for long: I noticed that some of the students could not pronounce /f/ sound instead it sounded more like /p/. For example, instead of ‘flash’ it was ‘plash’, or instead ofcoffee’ more like ‘copy’. Students often make this mistake, and the key to correct pronunciation is that the sound /f/ is a longer sound and /p/ is short. I gave a band to one of my students and took one myself, together we stretched the band each time there was the challenging sound in a word. It was magical: so easy and fast. The students instantly grasped the difference by feeling the extension with their hands. We loved it and enjoyed experimenting with it for a little while.

Conclusion: a pack of rubber bands is a must have in ESL literacy classroom. Every time there is a need, just give one to the students and have fun stretching together.

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