Number one for English language teachers

Beginning vocabulary: pronunciation and drilling

A selection of activities to help young learners practise vocabulary. This section focuses on pronunciation and drilling.

Students must hear correct models of the target vocabulary in order to copy the pronunciation and to recognise the words later. They should also have plenty of practice of saying the words in order to get the pronunciation right and also to help memorisation. Choral repetition of words is useful but can become meaningless. To keep focussed on meaning, try choral repetition like this. Put these five faces on the board:


When children repeat the words they have to do so conveying these emotions. Try it with the word chocolate. Children enjoy doing this and they do the activity meaningfully. Chants and songs are a good way to get students repeating vocabulary and by adding actions focus on meaning is not lost.

Get students moving their arms wide apart when they say big and close together when they say little to indicate meaning. Students can also make up their own verses with other animals, which they decide are big or little – or even other objects like house and cup.

The other good thing about songs and chants is that the words are part of connected speech at a reasonably fast speed, so that weak forms and sound linking occur naturally. E.g. ‘knees and toes’ if said at the speed of the song have a natural link of the ‘s’ in knees and the ‘a’ in and, also the ‘a’ in and becomes a schwa and not a long sound.Another fun way of getting children’s tongues around English sounds are tongue twisters:

Yellow lorry, yellow lorry

Sally sells sea shells on the sea shore

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Hi hadassanwelzel,

    Thanks for your feedback. How did the lesson go?

    Best wishes,
    The onestopenglish team

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  • Really liked the first tip, will try it tomorrow.

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