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The evil -ed- sound OR "how am I supposed to know how to say this?!"

Updated: May 3, 2021

My 5th grades have entered uncharted waters . . . the past tense 😱 Before Christmas they had learnt about "was" and "were" and this week we started working on regular verbs.

We started with the spelling rules when adding -ed-. A presentation I made a couple of years ago came in handy for this. Take a look:

After going through the presentation we did some board activities. We deleted our -y- and doubled our final consonants and then I decided to ask one of them to read the words ... and then another ... and another ... and I though "OK, we are changing the lesson plan" 🤔

None of them, even my best student, had any idea how to even approach pronouncing the words ending with -ed-. When I was their age, all I watched was Cartoon Network in English. All the TV shows had the voice-over. But nowadays everything they watch is dubbed 😱 No wonder they have no idea how to pronounce things.

I started by explaining that there are three ways to pronounce -ed- : /t/ , /d/ , /ɪd/.

I explained that words ending in /t/ and /d/ sound take the /ɪd/ pronunciation. Then they found out about the existence of voiced and unvoiced sounds. I told them to check practically every letter sound with their hands on their throats to see if something vibrates ... it was suddenly quite noisy 😅 If you don't know what I'm taking about, here is a nice explanation.

In the next lesson I gave them a lot of little pieces of paper with regular verbs. I told them that their task is to divide them into three groups according to their pronunciation. They had 15 minutes and were supposed to work as a group. The rule was: I'm not helping. They got to work straight away. It was cool looking at them checking every sound and consulting each other on whether their throats vibrate or not. Once they were finishes, I checked their lists and took out the words which they got wrong. I wrote those on the board and we went through them one more time. At the end everyone had to read the whole list making sure they pronounce the ending clearly.

What's to come next? I found this great set of activities in Timesavers Pronunciation Activities.

Three people (Pat, Bud, and Astrid) are doing different things. Each recording in exercise 2 starts with the words "This person ...." and based on the pronunciation of the verb that follows the students have to match the person with the same sound in their name to the activity. In the last exercise students write their own sentences for each character. I have great hopes for those activities 😄

I've also created a Snakes and Ladders game for them. I got the board from Printable Board Games. Obviously, when you land on a verb you need to pronounce it with the -ed- ending. If you mispronounce it you miss a turn. Click on the board to download it.

And that's not all! I found another great activity, this time in Primary Pronunciation Box from Cambridge University Press.

Students need to follow the word ending with /t/ sound to get from start to finish. This activity would be fantastic if my classroom floor was big enough to make the board huge so they could walk on it. Maybe next year when we move to a bigger building. At this point, I'm going to display it on the board. There's an identical activity in the book for the /d/ sound. They'll get this one as a handout and we'll have a race 🙂

So there it is . . . this is how I did it. The difference between their first and last (so far) attempt at pronouncing the words was huge. Also, a lesson focusing entirely on pronunciation was something new for them.

I love lessons like this: you start it knowing that there is a big gap and 45 minutes later the gap is gone 😍

Have fun creating,

Ewa :)

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