Number one for English language teachers

Pronunciation skills: The muscle buttons and vowels /iː/ or /uː/

Type: Reference material Video material

In these two videos, Adrian Underhill explains the physicality of pronunciation and the use of ‘muscle buttons’ to help us vocalize sounds such as vowels /i:/ and /u:/. 

macmillan ose pronunciation 620x200

Did you know that pronunciation is physical? Watch the following videos and then read the teaching tips below for practical ways of taking pronuciation into your classroom.

 

Tip 1: Familiarization

Familiarize yourself with /iː/ and /uː/ by identifying objects around your house or staffroom with these sounds. Add a sticky post-it to each object of /iː/ or /uː/. Then each time you see the object say the word, followed by the sound.

You can then take this into class when you feel confident. Enlarge the phonemes /iː/ and /uː/, and stick them on either side of the board. Take certain objects (or photos of objects) in and ask your students to place them by their related sound. Invite peer correction to help students place their objects correctly. Then feed back.

Note: If you have an interactive whiteboard or projector, you could use Google Images to find online images of these objects and ask students to drag them on to the corrects sides of either a whiteboard or a PowerPoint slide.

Tip 2: Practice

Poetry or pop music is a great way to bring sounds into the classroom, especially if the sounds are repeated many times throughout. You can hand out phonemes of /iː/ or /uː/ to students and ask them to hold up the sound every time they hear a word with the sound in it. Alternatively, try splitting the class in half and have half of the class with /iː/ and the other with /uː/. At the end, ask who held up the sounds most and with which words.

Have fun with pronunciation! For these sounds, The Jungle Book ‘I Wanna Be Like You (The Monkey Song)’ works perfectly, especially the chorus and the first verse. For example:

Ooh-bi-doo, I wanna be like you

I want to walk like you, talk like you, too

You see it’s true, an ape like me

Can learn to be like you, too

Answers:

/iː/                                                                    

/uː/                                                                      

CHORUS:

bi

be

see

me

be

 

FIRST VERSE:

me

V.I.P

me

be

be

me

dreams

me

me

be

CHORUS:

ooh

be

see

me

be

 

FIRST VERSE:

to

to

you

to

true

clue

to

do

you

 


Lyrics can be found online:
http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/classicdisney/iwannabelikeyou.htm or http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/lucywoodward/iwannabelikeyouthemonkeysong.html

For the recording itself, try the following link with the lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEEPaYD5KZE

Or the original version without the lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_5BDzntb68&list=RDG_5BDzntb68#t=34

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Readers' comments (4)

  • Hi Jenny,

    Unfortunately, these resources are only available through YouTube as when they are hosted on the site they cannot be played on mobile devices.

    Many apologies,
    The onestopenglish team

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  • I have the same problem as there is no access to YouTube in China. Would the resources be available except YouTube?

    Jenny

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  • Hi Jessieliu,
    Unfortunately, we're not able to upload the videos to this page because the size of the files is too large. A member of our team will contact you to discuss possible options to help you access the videos.
    Best wishes,
    The onestopenglish team

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  • The video won't load possibly because YouTube is banned here in China. Please could it be posted without being linked to YouTube?

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