lifestyle teaching

Teaching Pronunciation

Teaching pronunciation

Rant time, about teaching pronunciation.

Some of my ESL students have been taught pronunciation poorly.

It’s a lot of work to correct the resultant problems.

It’s better to teach it correctly from the start.

When teaching pronunciation, you have to isolate the target sound.

In other words, this sound must occur only once in the word.

And it has to occur in the stressed syllable.

The student will naturally stress the target sound.

When the sound is in an unstressed syllable, the word will be pronounced incorrectly.

For example, if you are teaching the /l/ sound, do NOT use the word “apple.”


The student, emphasizing the /l/ target sound, will pronounce the word a-PULL.

The /l/ sound was said correctly, but the proper stress of the word has been confused.

It started as a pronunciation lesson, but now it’s a stress lesson.

The student is confused.

Also, you don’t want the sound to occur twice.

If you use the word “lovely” to teach the /l/ sound, the student will say, “LOVE-LEE.”

They will emphasize the first syllable because that is where the word is properly stressed, but they will also emphasize the second syllable because it has another /l/ which is the target sound.

In this scenario, you are teaching your students to speak with a robot accent.

This is a very poor technique, and an awful lot of work to correct.

Create your pronunciation lessons with only one variable.

Teach pronunciation on the accented syllable of the word.

OK, I’m done ranting.

lifestyle teaching

Awkward English Lesson

Awkward English Lesson

It was an awkward English lesson

My beginning online student told me, in halting language, that he had recently visited the United States.

He took a trip to San Diego.

And he took the opportunity to cross the border and visit Tijuana.

I asked him what he thought of Tijuana.

He paused for a moment, searching for the right word.



But of course.

What else would be said in an awkward English lesson?

I quickly changed the subject.

lifestyle weather

Arctic Blast

Arctic Blast

We had heard that we were going to be hit by an arctic blast.

They weren’t kidding.

Nathan had come home for the weekend.

He got up at the crack of dawn to head back this morning.

At 6:00 am, while we were loading him up in the car, it was .

It was so cold that it hurt!

For the first time ever, I did not linger over our goodbyes.

I did not stand at the curb waving until he turned the corner.

I said, “Bye, I love you.”

And hurried back into the house to get out of the Arctic blast.

I need hot coffee.

Lots and lots of hot coffee.

lifestyle reading

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

Happy birthday Dr. Seuss!

Back in the day, before he made it big, Dr. Seuss worked in the newspaper business.

My grandfather also worked in the newspaper business.

When my grandparents would have Ted over for dinner, he would always bring a book for my mom.

I love this edition of Horton Hatches the Egg.

Dr. Seuss inscribed it, and he drew my mom’s picture with Horton.

This inscription is not particularly valuable.

I checked.

But I am a nerdy book lover.

It’s one of my prized possessions.

lifestyle weather

Fog Advisory

Fog Advisory

A heavy fog advisory was announced on the local news this morning.

I opened the front door to check out this North Texas fog.

I burst out laughing.

It was just a bit of mist in the air.

It’s not really fog until you can’t see the house across the street.

It’s not even a fog advisory until you can’t see the house next door.

I’m laughing now.

I won’t be laughing so hard come tornado season…

lifestyle teaching

Allergy Medication

Allergy Medication

When I take my allergy medication, I don’t sleep well.

When I don’t take my allergy medication, I can’t breathe.




It’s a tough choice.

I haven’t been taking the medication lately.

I really do need to sleep.

But this morning my nose wouldn’t stop running.

I teach English on line.

I need my voice to be clear.

I need to be able to teach pronunciation properly.

Today we studied the /zh/ sound.

As in treasure, casual, vision…

You can’t pronounce /zh/ properly when you are congested.

I don’t want my students to learn English with a cold accent.

I took an allergy pill.

I may regret it later.

But the lesson went well, so there’s that.

lifestyle teaching

The Imperative Form

The Imperative Form

Today we had an impromptu English lesson on the imperative form.

I had an online student with barking dogs in the background.

I asked him to please quiet the dogs because they were distracting.

I muted his microphone a couple of times, telling him that we couldn’t hear him over the continual barking.

I did want to give him every possible opportunity to participate.

But I couldn’t let his dogs distract the rest of the class.

Finally, one of other students said,

“Shut those damn dogs up!”

Well said, English student, well said.

Excellent example of the imperative form.


I Got Cold

I got cold

I got cold.

I put on a sweater.

I got hot.

I took off the sweater.

I got cold.

I got hot.

On, off, on, off.

All day long.

This time of year is kind of annoying like that.

diabetes lifestyle

Someone Who Knows Nothing

Someone who knows nothing

When someone who knows nothing about diabetes

starts talking to me about diabetes…

I used to get mad.

I used to argue.

I used to try to explain the difference between Type 1 and Type 2.

But I have learned that it’s pointless.

It’s like trying to discuss childrearing issues

with someone who doesn’t have kids.

I thought I knew everything about being a parent.

But when the kids were born, I realized I didn’t have a clue.

I thought I was pretty well informed about diabetes, too.

But when we were diagnosed, I realized how much I had to learn.

Nowadays, when a non-diabetic tries to tell me what’s what,

I just ask a question about insulin ratios or long-term A1c levels.

I might even talk about changing the lancet.

With a straight face.

Just to see their reaction.

They never have any idea what I’m talking about.

Then I go home and tell the boys about the conversation.

We laugh and laugh and laugh.

I’m collecting stories about someone who knows nothing.

One day, they’ll make a great comedy sketch.

lifestyle teaching

My English Conversation Student

My English Conversation Student

My beginning English conversation student from Vietnam told me that he wants to visit the United States.

He wants to see the “Freedom Woman on the River.”

The Statue of Liberty has now been renamed.

In my mind anyway.

That was the cutest thing ever.

I didn’t tell my student it was cute.

He’s a cardiac surgeon.

Cute would not have gone over very well.