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Revising vocabulary through phonemic symbols



If you have an electronic Interactive Whiteboard, or a computer with a data projector, the phonemic chart can be used in class to recycle and reinforce recently learned vocabulary, at the same time as revising the phonemic symbols. All these activities assume that learners have had at least some initial introduction to the phonemic alphabet.

1. Give the students a list of recently learned words with a specific sound underlined, e.g. one of the vowel sounds. The learners then categorise the words into the different vowel sounds. To make the activity easier, you could restrict the number of vowel sounds used, and give learners the options they have to choose from. They can come and click on these sounds on the board or computer to check. When checking with the whole class, one student can stand at the board or sit at the computer, clicking on the ‘correct’ sound for each word, which the teacher confirms or rejects.

2. Give the students a list of recently learned words in phonemic script. In groups, they have to work out what the words are. They can send a group member to the board or the computer to click on sounds to help them check. They then have to write the words in alphabetic script. This can be made more learner-centred if, after some work in class on the phonemic alphabet, learners choose 5 recently learned words and write them in phonemic script for homework. In the next class they exchange books and use the chart to help them work out the words.

3. Individual learners prepare a recently learned word in phonemic script. They come to the board or computer and spell it out. Other learners have to identify the word, and any mistakes in the phonemic transcription, then give its alphabetic spelling.
A variation on both the above activities is for you or the learners to prepare phonemic transcriptions of vocabulary with a deliberate mistake. Learners in groups identify the mistake and replace it with the correct phoneme.

4. Learners work in two teams. One team member stands at the board or sits at the computer, and the other team calls out a word (you could specify a subject area, recently learned vocabulary, or leave the choice of words open). The team member has to spell out the word on the chart, and receives a point for a correct answer. The class is the judge, with the teacher having the final say.

5. The teacher gives one learner a word, written alphabetically. The learner has to tap out the word in phonemic script, while other learners identify it. As a variation, the teacher gives one learner a word in phonemic script. He taps it out on the board, and the other team gets a point for giving the correct spelling.

6. Write the name of your favourite famous person in phonemic script on the board. The class as a whole has to work out who it is using their existing knowledge of the phonemic chart. They then write the name of a favourite famous person in phonemic script on a piece of paper (an English name, e.g. Tom Cruise, not Enrique Iglesias). The teacher collects these and redistributes them. Learners have to work out who this person is – they can take turns in clicking on the sounds on the board or the computer to check individual sounds. Once they’ve worked out the name, they can find the person who wrote it and ask some more questions, e.g. why they like this person, what films they’ve been in etc.