S-s-s-t-ar-r-r-t Instruction in Oral Language Skills (Listening & Speaking) with Phonemically Sound Awareness & Articulation

S-s-s-t-ar-r-r-t Instruction in Oral Language Skills (Listening & Speaking) with Phonemically Sound Awareness & Articulation

Competency Puzzle “Listen & Speak with Understanding” Pieces E-00.02 to E-00.03: Cultivate Sound Awareness with the Alphabet, Greetings, Names, & Intros
 Ever hear the joke or see the meme called “A frickin elephant?”
And the “A f r i c a n Elephant” joke is only one of the many anecdotes and other humor based on omission, isolation, segmentation, substitution, blending, or addition of (American-) English sounds.  Other aural / oral productions that may induce laughter are inaccurate perception of wording, mispronunciation, wrong placement of emphasis on syllables, alliteration, rhyming, and the like. 
Consonant and vowel sounds are called phonemes when they make a difference to the meanings of syllables, whole words, phrases, and longer units—in speech and therefore in the spelling of words.  But it’s not only the articulation of phonemesand their morphemes (meaningful combos of alphabetic letters)—that carry the message.  It’s also how the sounds or  letters are sequenced (put together), how they are blended (or separated), and how various syllables are (strongly or weakly) stressed or even “reduced” in pronunciation. The above anecdote illustrates how aspects of sound awareness and articulation can operate.
Other jokes based on aware “sound discrimination / enunciation” may require even more knowledge or experience to “get the point.”    
Such witticisms are plentiful in “Lost Consonants," comic series created by Graham Rawle, in Britain's Guardian newspaper from 1990 to 2005. Each text-and-image word play illustrates a sentence from which one vital letter has been removed, altering its meaning.
For example, “putting the cart before the horse” becomes “putting the art before the horse,” illustrated by someone holding the Mona Lisa in front of a pony. “Giving electric shock treatment” turns into a wired foot covering (sock) when the digraph shdrops its second letter.  Without the -rin the consonant cluster –rn, “children with learning disabilities” tilt to the side.  Missing the final /d/ sound in bride, a father “gives away the brie,” a kind of soft cheese, at her wedding. And a “native American” becomes “naïve”—believing empty promises—when the -t- is dropped and syllable stress is shifted.
Can you get the joke of these 12 images—even before referring to the linguistic explanations that follow?
If you easily “got the joke” of the 12 images above, then you’re already “phonetically / phonemically aware,” at least in regard to sounds & spellings.  And if you get a laugh from “silly explanations of meaning” like those below, you grasped the hilarity of “Daffynitions,” puns inviting reinterpretation based on word boundaries, sound separation vs. blending, syllabic phrasing, reduced forms, or other amusing (but unauthorized) changes to the sound of language. 
Especially if you can read (aloud) verbiage from this blog post with correct pronunciation and comprehension, you probably don’t need any more work on Phonetic / Phonemic Sound Awareness or Articulation. So you’re entitled to “lighten up” when it comes to beginning this area of study inside or behind Puzzle Piece E: Listen & Speak with Understanding at WorkLife English.com. 
Even so, for children and adults not yet aware of the prerequisites for becoming Phonetically / Phonemically Aware in any language, here are Graphic Organizers that illustrate the curricula of Sound Awareness as it might be taught / learned in grade schools or beginning literacy classes. You might (or might not) want to keep in mind that "phonological awareness is about being able to hear and manipulate units of sound in spoken words. It includes syllables, onset, rime, and more. Phonemic awareness is about being able to hear and manipulate the smallest unit of sound that makes a difference, a phoneme.”
For adults that are non-native speakers of English or new readers, what’s necessary for Phonetic / Phonemic awareness is instruction in [1] the names and order of the letters of the alphabet, and [2] Phonics & Spelling (the correspondences of sounds and letters in American English. Products directed at these topics are available behind Puzzle Pieces A and B:  Alphabet Answers; Phonics & Spelling.
For full versions of excerpted downloads in this article—as well as complete Listening / Speaking texts that cover these ideas and many ,many “higher-level” ones, be sure to take a look at what’s behind Puzzle Piece E: Listen & Speak with Understanding on the worklifeenglish.com homepage.    
For adults that are non-native speakers of English or new readers, what’s necessary for Phonological / Phonemic Awareness is instruction in basic and higher-level Phonics & Spelling (the correlations of sounds with letters—and vice versa—in American English).  Products directed at these topics are downloadable behind Puzzle Piece B : Do Phonics & Spelling at worklifeenglish.com.There are also many Parts & Pieces (smaller units of instruction) that reference Language-Sound Awareness.
Competency Puzzle “Listen & Speak with Understanding” Pieces E-00.02 to E-00.03: Cultivate Sound Awareness with the Alphabet, Greetings, Names, & Intros 
This article is the second installment of “How to Put Together Puzzle Parts & Pieces That Make Language Work: E. “Listen & Speak with Understanding.  (The first was E-00.01 “Get & Assert Meaning with Body Language.”)  Its main aim is to move from Expression of Non-Verbal Meaning to Meaningful Sound Awareness (in Syllables & Words).     
Children surrounded by language in their early years usually become aware of phonological structure without extra effort, from hearing (and seeing) the rhymes, songs, oral reading, clear speech, and word play that commonly occur at home or in pre-school.  Others, hopefully, develop a sense of sound from the kinds of activities listed in the Phonemic / Phonological Awareness Graphics displayed above.
Adults who have mastered their own native language(s)—at least aurally / orally but also in written forms—already have Sound Awareness.  So even when embarking on the study of English for the first time, they’re unlikely to need targeted instruction in Phonemically Sound Awareness (with the exception, perhaps, for those singular sounds, combinations, and oral skills features that they haven’t yet experienced).    
So what are some simple ways to “check on” language learners’ levels of “sound proficiency”—perhaps when beginning a course of study in Oral Language Skills (Listening & Speaking)?  Here, from the introductory “Getting Started” section of Beginners’ Before Speaking with Pronunciation Principles: An Oral-Language-Skills Package are three excerpts to download (with a click) that accomplish the following:
  •  E-00.02a Teach / Learn the Names of the Letters of the English Alphabet; Connect These to Sounds. At Pre-Literate / Novice through Intermediate Levels, a good way to begin a language course might be with the names of the 26 alphabet letters. That’s because these immediately establish differences between the printed / handwritten appearance of letters and the words that name them—as in A = /ey/,  B = /biy/, C = /siy/, and so on to Z = /ziy/.  Although the 26 words that name letters don’t contain all  the phonemic sounds of the language, they do include at least 8 of 16 Vowel Sounds and 20 Consonant Sounds or combinations, so they provide a good start to Pronunciation coaching. They’re offered for hands-on delivery on page 2 of the excerpted download.     
  • Next (on page 3) comes association of all possible letters / digraphs with the approximately 44 phonemes they representOne way to accomplish this is with a Chart of Correlations between printed symbols and the one or more sounds that the letter(s) produce(s) in spelling. Then a page 4 Pronunciation Key begins with two kinds of symbols for sounds—from the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) and standard American Dictionaries.  Word Examples in the Key clarify the correlations of some spellings to some of the sounds they can stand for; relevant letters are underlined.
  • Excerpt E-00.02a ends with a Challenge Activity. Learners of English and new readers can enliven their Sound vs. Spelling abilities (to read aloud, pronounce vocabulary) by working with Pronunciation Keys displayed on page 5 as well as with those in their own (online) dictionaries.                             
  • E-00.02b Use (Nearly) All the Sounds of the Language in (Famous) People’s Names. Here on pages 6-9 is a “Famous Figures’ Names Game.” To practice articulating most sounds of English (in initial, medial, and/or final word position), learners pronounce the first (given) names of 39 well-known people or characters from the culture. They match these with the spellings for the names above. For Challenge, advancing students can then find their last (family) names in a list and share what they already know about each figure. At whatever level they’re working or playing, participants will be demonstrating and strengthening their Phonemic Awareness abilities.
  • E-00.02c Read Aloud Conversations About Names Printed in 3 Ways; Consider Syllable-Stress Patterns in Words & People’s Names. Here on pages 10.11 are two typical Conversations About Names to have at least 3 times: first, by reading aloud its lines from IPA Sound-Symbols; second, by pronouncing them from American Dictionary Symbols; and third, by clearing saying them from text printed in alphabetic letters. Then come two pages of attention to Syllable-Stress in words (that are names) and a Name Bingo Game Grid with which to practice it. Finally, there’s a page extracted from Before Speaking: Activities for Practice & Preparation in Oral Language Skills. Attached to Download E-00.02c, it offers an ingenious technique for acquiring awareness of word stress or accent at the onset of Oral-Language Skills instruction.
  • Steps comparable to those in E-00.02 have analogous aims in “higher-level” Oral-Skills (Listening / Speaking) materials.  For instance, Parts & Pieces Download E– 00.03 includes Getting Started Intro to Pronunciation Practice: High-Beginning to Intermediate Instruction & Activities in Vowel & Consonant Sounds, Syllables, Stress, Rhythm, & Other Features of Clear American Accent. Beginning with a Strip Story about Greetings in O.A: Pronounce Speech, in O.B there’s efficient review of Vowels & Consonants in a Pronunciation Key. O.C gets text users to “Pronounce & Spell Names Aloud with the Names of Alphabetic Letters.” Then they play “Name
  • Bingo,” review the pronunciation of Number Names, and converse to get info for “Class Contact-Data Books.” The section ends with reinforcing practice in “Pronunciation Terms.” Relevant Answer Key / Tapescript excerpts are attached. 

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