Category Archives: Pronunciation

Learning Chocolate: Vocabulary Website


I’m not sure the kids will prefer it to chocolate, but Stephanie found a great site for practicing vocabulary.

Learning Chocolate has the typical vocabulary groups (weather, animals, clothing, action verbs) but it also has more advanced vocabulary such as hairstyles, Greek god symbols and internal organs.  Most of these advanced categories could be used to introduce vocabulary to the higher-level students, and then be used as speaking and writing prompts.   The best thing to do is to go to the main page and check it all out.

On the first page of each category is a list of about 10 words, with pictures and written words (go ahead and work on the students’ spelling).  There are also three “games”, the second of which usually doesn’t involve audio.  In any case, there’s also a cloze exercise (“fill in”) to do.

P.S.  If you end up with very difficult students (read: adults) who are floundering, you can also change the language at the top of the page: switch “use” to Chinese and “learn” to English.  We really don’t recommend doing this unless it’s absolutely necessary to get the student to understand, though.

University of Iowa Phonics Site


For those of you who want more than The Mouth, the University of Iowa has a website that gives a little more.  Their phonics site (here — click on “American English”)  has a mouth and a video that go beside the phonetic symbols.  If your internet is fast enough, the students should be able to see the video through our meeting site; if the internet is slow, you can send them the website and tell them what to click on so they can see the appropriate video.

V vs. W


I used to think it was a matter of vocal mechanics: once they learned to say the letter “V”, they’d be fine.  They might need the occasional reminder, but they’d be fine.

They’re not fine.  It’s a Chinglish problem.  They’re fine until we get a couple of new kids in the class or they get a Chinese English teacher, and then they all slide back into the “W” sound.  We have to review this once a year or so.

I use the Interactive Sagittal Section to show them how their mouth should move for each letter.  If you use a webcam, you won’t need this.

Then we go over lists and lists of  “V” words.  (Think medieval.)  I try to practice words that the students would see regularly.

Very                                                           velvet
Violin                                                         vehicle
Vacation                                                   vowel
Vacuum                                                     verb
Valentine                                                  video
Valedictorian                                          view
Value                                                           village
Van                                                               violet
Vampire                                                     virus
Variety                                                        visit
Vocabulary                                               volleyball
Volunteer                                                   voice

Then we have more medieval word lists.

Eve                                                                 live
Every                                                            river
Evolution                                                    save
Environment                                             solve
Divide                                                           stove
Dive                                                               vivid
Give                                                               wave
Have                                                              weave

Then, when they’re bored out of their skulls, we do some tongue twisters.  Dave’s ESL Cafe has a “V vs. W” section here.  There are also a few here.

Finally, to drive the nail in completely, I do some of the level-appropriate activities in this pdf file, to show the students why they can’t mix up the two sounds.

Usually, they’re pretty good for a while after this, even to the point of correcting each other.