in touch with real speech
In touch with real speech

Limericks for Pronunciation

A number of authors make good use of Limericks to teach pronunciation. I have been doing it for years in my teaching, most recently using Sonocent’s AudioNotetaker (see here), but below is an early demonstration using Flash. The aim is to practise making the contrast between the ‘sheep’ and ‘ship’ vowels accurately, and to practise at different speeds. The idea is to give learners something memorable which they can practise first on their mobile device/computer and which they can then repeat to themselves as they walk, drive, take a shower (or exercise on a running machine in a gym).

The concept behind  the three speeds derives from Phonology for Listening Chapter 17, and the metaphors of the Greenhouse, the Garden, and the Jungle.

The limerick is packed with words involving the |ɪ| and |iː|contrast: Tim, gym, slim; machine, people, teeth, etc.

(What this version lacks is a  amusing/dramatic cartoons which would contextualise the limerick. In this case, a Dentist brushing someone’s teeth as they run on a running machine.)

This is a very slow version, for you to practise accuracy of the individual speech sounds at a slow careful speed – a treacly (viscous) version of the stream of speech. The numbers at the end of each line give the speed in words per minute.

This is a version at medium speed, for you to practise joining up the words in a creamy (slow-flowing) version of the stream of speech. The numbers at the end of each line give the speed in words per minute.

This is a version at fast speed, for you to practise joining up the words in a full-flowing, natural version of the stream of speech.  The numbers at the end of each line give the speed in words per minute.

I have over a hundred of these limericks: all are clean (limericks have a reputation for being dirty/obscene) - all require an amusing cartoon for contextualisation purposes.