Teaching Pronunciation Through a Story

It's impossible to try to teach students all the rules of French phonetics in one sitting (nor would that be as useful to them as consistent practice), but I like to do a mini-lesson at the beginning of the year that emphasizes a few of them (including the cadence, with the stress on the last syllable) to help acquaint them with it.

First, I start by writing a few French words on the board that are used in English (an idea I got from Deb Blaz's book Foreign Language Teacher's Guide to Active Learning.  The words I chose were cliché, garage, au contraire, café, boutique, chic, and rendez-vous.  After determining (in French) that these words are in fact French words borrowed by English and what they mean, I ask them to pronounce the sounds a, i, ou, é, and ch, using the words as a guide.  Then, this year, instead of just showing them random words to read that contained the sounds I wanted to practice, I made up a little story.  I showed it in PPT form, and the students pronounced the words in green, while I pronounced the words in black.  After each slide, students said what the words meant in English.  Then I made it into a video with my voiceover to publish to my classroom blog so students could practice at home.

Here is the story:

So, while its hardly a comprehensive review of every possible French pronunciation rule, it helped students learn the cadence of French and introduced them to some of the more frequent sounds.

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