Day Four: Phonology 1 – An overview

by celtaconfessions

In spite of my earlier posts reflecting on day four, I actually hadn’t realised how affected I was. I just came across evidence that I was probably at my lowest level on this day than at any other point in the course, as far as my mood and state of mind was concerned. I remember having experienced such a day, but thought it occurred a little later; however, this “evidence” points to this day, day four, as being that day in question. It was a combination of factors: the mounting pressure, my forgetting important details, the slaughter I had, the changing of class to be observed – the next day, Friday, I would be going to the intermediate class to observe before coming back to pre-intermediate on Monday to do a TP, plus because of the way things had progressed, I was changed from being first up to last again for Monday! I’d always felt that I was last more times than others and I couldn’t figure it out until I remembered this. Being first would meant I’d have had to do grammar, which my tutor didn’t want and his only solution was to put me last. Last to teach for ALL the TPs I did with this level. So, the combination of a multitude of negativities (and I haven’t mentioned them all) drove me to a near-breakdown.

No wonder I hadn’t wanted to talk about it at first!

On to this input session. I don’t remember much about it, and I doubt may trainees do either.

CELTA input session

Copyright 2012 Chiew Pang

The aim was to give us an overview of pronunciation issues to consider. The stages of the input was as follows:

  • Possible problems students may have with pronunciation
  • Matching exercise: problems with terminology
  • Feedback on answers
  • How can we help students to improve their pronunciation visually and orally?
  • Drilling practice

Problem areas

We were given ten cards with problems written on them.

  • wash  /  watch  /  sherry  /  cherry
  • She’s French, isn’t she?  /  Really? Is she? I didn’t know
  • competition  /  competitive  /  competitor  /  compete
  • played  /  cooked  /  started
  • She was having a drink when he arrived.  /  What were they doing there?
  • T: Here you are. (T gives S red pen)  /  S: No, I want the blue one.  /  T: Ah, OK. (T gives S green pen)  /  S: No, I want the blue one. (T gives blue pen)
  • I’ve always liked maths.  /  What’s happened?
  • thorough  /  castle  /  walk  /  foreign
  • clothes  /  crisps
  • She had had an awful time.

We had to match these cards to the terminology of the problems, which were:

  • contractions
  • word linking
  • minimal pairs
  • voiced/unvoiced sounds
  • consonant clusters
  • weak forms / the schwa
  • word stress
  • sentence stress
  • intonation
  • silent letters


The basic drill involves simple repetition. However, there are variations we can use to break the monotony.

Who speaks?

  • whole group (choral) or individually
  • nominated student
  • male/female
  • sections (this half/that half; As/Bs)
  • Pairs: alternate words
  • Students lead the drill rather than the teacher


  • volume: normal, whisper, loud, shout, sing, silent (mime)
  • speed: normal, fast, slow

Substitution drills

Transformation drills

True sentences

Examples of these drills can be seen in Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener.

Helping students with pronunciation

This can be done orally, e.g. by identifying and isolating problem areas, using exaggeration, etc.; or it can be done visually, e.g. using directional arrows, stress boxes and phonemes.


I’d already pronounced my verdict on these pronunciation sessions in a previous post.

This post contains notes taken from the official handout of IH CLIC Seville