More exercises to encourage auditory discrimination

Some time ago, I wrote about the auditory discrimination of 2 vowel sounds that are difficult to distinguish by Spanish speakers: the e and the i. Several months and several phonics later, I am going to propose more discrimination exercises that can be worked on with your students to get them used to recognizing them.

Among the vowel phonemes we can focus on the discrimination between a and u, and in a second moment we will add the o. It is important to choose short words of 3 or 4 letters with only one vowel sound so that our students do not get confused. That means words such as cat, cut, cot, or pat, put and pot.

Other vowel sounds that we worked on this year were the i and the digraph ee, so that the children can see that the first one is a 'short i' and the second one is a 'long i'. If you accompany the words with the movement of both hands, moving them closer or further away depending on which sound the words have, you will help students to notice the difference even more. Some examples are: sheep (hands away) and ship (hands closer) or beet and bit, feet and fit, etc.

Finally, these last days we saw the digraph
oo that can also be pronounced by lengthening or shortening the sound as in moon /ˈmuːn/ or in hook /ˈhʊk/. Again we use our hands to highlight which is the 'long u' and which is the 'short u', when we pronounce the words, to help the little ones to better grasp the difference. Other words with /uː/ (the 'long u') are broom, spoon, food, while some words with /ʊ/ (the 'short u') are cook, foot, book, etc.

Among the consonantal sounds, we have obviously worked on the b and v, which are two phonemes that overlap  in the Spanish language, creating problems when it comes to writing, in both languages. Finally, the latest phonemes we saw were w and g which are also problematic, but, in this case, when it comes to pronouncing them: many children when they read the word wood aloud, would pronounce it good. You should insist on the positioning of their lips and, if nothing works, you can always give them the example of Huelva or huevo, so that they can grab it immediately. 

But... How do we work them out? Easy, peasy. At the moment, since my pupils are third graders who don't have to write anything yet, I just concentrate on the auditory and visual features. I usually use cute paper cups to which I apply a white label. On the label I write the sounds in large letters, both upper and lower case, and I also draw one or two pictures of words that start or contain the same sound. As you can see in the picture, I use pompoms of different types: these are all glittery for it was Christmas time, but, of course, I have  pompoms for workdays, too :o)

I use two different exercises: the first one consists of sitting 2 children (or 3 depending on the number of cups) in front of all the others (at a distance of 2 o 3 meters). These 2 or 3 hold the cups well visible so that their classmates, who must also be sitting, can place their pompoms, in the correct cup once a pompom has been distributed to each one, when they hear the word. 

In the second activity I do not use pompoms, instead, I divide the class into two groups and sit them facing each other at a certain distance. I alternate words that contain the sound I want to work that session with others that do not have it, and the children, when they hear the right phoneme, have to swap places with the one in front of them. This is just an adaptation of the game 'Change places if...' and I have only been able to use it with the 5-year-olds, because it seems that the 4-year-olds are not willing to give up their seats under any circumstances 😀

--> Read this post in Spanish

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