Handout 3 of 5 – English Workshop for Vietnamese Teachers



English Teacher Workshop ~ February 6, 2018

<< Sean’s website to help to you study English:  www.seanlaurence.com >>

Discussion Topics –

  • Individual word and syllable stress and getting better at pronunciation.
  • How to recognize common mistakes that Vietnamese people may have to make communication easier.
  • A group conversation to share different ideas for classroom activities to practice pronunciation, vocabulary or grammar.

A few things to remember about this workshop –

  • This is an interactive workshop. Ask questions or share your thoughts anytime. Please share what is on your mind.
  • Share your knowledge. If you have an idea about teaching or speaking English, please don’t hesitate to share it.
  • Making mistakes is ok. It’s better to make one now instead of in the classroom. Learning from your mistakes is powerful.

Agenda –

8:30-8:45 – Warm-up game and introductions.

8:45-9:15 – Each teacher will talk about some student activities to practice pronunciation, vocabulary or grammar.

9:15-10:00 – Work in two groups. Read the paragraph that you prepared out loud. Andrew and Sean will help you.

10:00-10:30 – Group discussion about some common mistakes Vietnamese people make.


❖ Word Stress ❖

Unvoiced versus voiced plural sounds [ KS (parks), TS (cats), PS (groups) vs. DZ (friends), GZ (dogs), SZ (classes) ]

❖ Common Mistakes ❖

Mistakes in pronunciation are important to correct. As you know, the most difficult sounds for Vietnamese speakers involves ending sounds, especially when they are plural. Keeping this in mind and being preemptively prepared to correct student’s mistakes can be helpful especially when they are reading out loud. However, it can discourage a student if he/she is interrupted at every inaccuracy, and can cause other students to fear having to speak. Writing mispronounced words on the board while the student is speaking/reading is a good way to bring their attention to the errors without shaming the student who is making the mistake. Usually, if the student is reading, he/she will not even realize you have written his/her mistakes on the board until he/she is finished.

Inappropriate style in writing – Here are some examples of common inaccuracies upper-level students have in their writing:

Giving irrelevant personal information in an essay is a common mistake in writing. It is a difficult thing to know when to include personal experiences in a formal essay. Often students spend so much time learning how to introduce themselves and share information about themselves that when they have to write a formal essay about any given topic in English, their first reaction is to introduce themselves again. Greeting the reader, and bidding the reader farewell are also inappropriate.  “Hello, my name is Andrew. I’m an English teacher in Vinh city. Today I am going to tell you about Poland’s role in World War II.” This is not necessary and would never be done in a legitimate essay. Introductory paragraphs should introduce the topic, not the writer. Providing historical context, and generally facts about the topic serves a much better preamble to a thesis statement. Students should not thank the reader that the end of an essay either.

Using the pronouns “I” and “you” should be avoided. In formal essays these pronouns should not be used. It is not necessary to use phrases like “In my opinion,” or “ I think/believe”. It is clear that the ideas expressed in the essay are the writer’s opinions. The writer should also avoid using “you”, since you is the reader, and the writer is not in a position to tell the reader what to do. For example: “Korea can be very cold during the winter months. You should not go there if you do not like cold weather.”  or “I believe guns are dangerous and you should not own any deadly weapons.” Although these statements may be true, it is not appropriate for the writer to tell the reader what to do. It is better to replace “you” with the pronouns “one” or “we”, or the words people, someone/somebody, the average person, etc. There are exceptions. If someone’s personal experience is relevant it can be should be included and written in the first person. However this is rarely the case.

Contractions. Formal essays should not have contractions, they have have each word in its entirety. Written English sometimes does not sound as natural as spoken word, especially if it is asking about a particular field of study like economics, sociology, or something of the like. Examples of what students should not do include: “The bar graph demonstrates that the population didn’t change substantially in 2005”.

When listing things use a conjunction like “and” or “or”, not an ellipsis (…). For example: “I like playing basketball, volleyball, football…” this is wrong. The sentence should read: “I like playing basketball, volleyball, and football.” The only exception to this is when a student is using the phrase “et cetera” (etc.), and even then an ellipsis should not be used.

Here are some general common mistakes that Vietnamese people make when speaking English:

Not saying the right S sound at the end of a word.

Examples: misses, books, plays

How to improve: The pronunciation depends on the last sound of the verb or noun which is usually a consonant. Learn the 3 different ways to pronounce the final S sound –

Voiceless (no vibration in your throat and the sound comes from the mouth area):

(P) sleeps, (K) books, (T) hats

Voiced (use vocal cords to produce a vibration or humming sound in throat):

(NG) sings, (Y) plays, (D) words,

Sibilant Sound (buzzing or hissing):

(CH) watches, (GE) changes, (SS) kisses, (S) surprise

Making the sound of a consonant that should be silent.

Examples: The consonant “c” in Muscle, “g” in Foreign, “s” in Island.

How to improve: Remember the silent consonant rules –

C is not pronounced in the combination SC: scissors, ascent, miscellaneous

G is not often not pronounced when it comes before N: sign, foreign, design, align

S is not pronounced before L: isle, aisle, islet

No word connections.

Example: “She is-a dancer”. We usually forget to connect the “s” sound in is with a.

How to improve: When you practice, don’t just say one word. Put the word into a phase or a sentence, read it slowly then faster. Be careful not to say “She isa a dancer” or “They havea a cake”.

 Activities for students to practice vocabulary ❖

How to prepare – Write a word on a separate small piece of paper and put all the words in a basket.
How to play – Divide students into two teams. One student from one team comes to the front of the class,
chooses a word from the basket, and describes the word without using it. Whichever team yells
out the correct word first earns a point. The next student to describe a word comes from the
other team, and so on. Whichever team has the most points when time is called wins. You may
wish to limit each team to two or three guesses per turn.
Optionally: Give students the full list ahead of time and allow them to write out their clues for each
word so they don’t have to come up with clues on the spot.

How to prepare – Write a set of all words on small separate sheets of paper for each student.
How to play – The teacher announces a category and students select the words that go into that category.
Students with the correct words in the category win. Have students explain why they put certain words in each category. Possible categories include:
• Nouns   • Verbs   • Emotional words
• Adjectives  • Words with prefixes or suffixes
• Emotional words   • Temporal words   • Words with three syllable
s  • Put the words in alphabetical order
Optionally: Students can work in groups or students can sort words into their own categories and then have other students guess.

This game is fast-paced, but allows students some time to think. It also encourages peer learning, as students will pick up on words they hear others speaking. To play the game, get a ball and have all the students stand in a circle. Name a category or theme, such as things found in a kitchen, food, jobs, and so on.

Begin by tossing the ball at a student. That student will say a word related to the theme and throw the ball to another student. As each student catches the ball, they need to come up with another word that fits the theme. If they repeat a word that has already been said or can’t think of a new one within a few seconds, they are out and must sit on the sidelines. Don’t worry, they’ll still be learning!

Take things up a notch with a different version of “Last Man Standing.” Instead of naming a theme, each student gives the next student another theme. For example, you might start off with “something red.” The first student to catch the ball could say “strawberry” and then choose another topic and throw the ball to the next student. This makes the game much more difficult, since students cannot think of a word until they know what their theme is.

 Activities for students to practice grammar ❖

Articles Practice – When do you use “a” or “an”? We use ‘a’ before a word that starts with a consonant. We use ‘an’ before a word that starts with a vowel. For example, “I saw a lion and an elephant”.

The teacher should prepare some sentences before this activity that use articles. The teacher (or a student) stands at the front of the classroom. They give an instruction. The students must follow the instruction, but only if the correct article is used. “Look at the teacher”, “Look at the window”, “Point at the tallest student”, “Wink at a student”.

Teaches: when to use these articles – a, an, the, at.

Punctuation Practice – Prepare a list of sentences but don’t put the punctuation. Make cards that have punctuation. Write one of the sentences on the board. A student picks up one of the cards and has to decide where it goes. The student can get help from his teammates.

Teaches: where to use commas, question marks or exclamation points go in a sentence.

Pronunciation Game – Use this game when there is a reading passage. Divide the class into 2 or 3 groups. Try to split the class evenly in regards to the skill level of the speakers. Do not have all the good (or bad) speakers on the same team. Have each student read the given passage out loud. As they are reading, list any mispronounced words on the board. When they are finished demonstrate the correct pronunciation of a word they had trouble with. They have one (or two) chances to correct the mistake. If they cannot, they get a point for their team. The team with the fewest points wins. Every mispronounced word that a student was not able to correct earns a point. It’s ok to mispronounce words, as long as the students are able to correct themselves after they have finished reading the passage. The same errors tend to be made by the majority of students. The class starts to realize this and avoid those common mistakes beforehand.

Teaches: pronunciation awareness.

Charades Game – One student acts out a verb. Other students must use the present progressive tense to describe the action. “He is walking”, “She is jumping”, “He is dancing”.

Teaches: present progressive tense (an action is or is not in a state of progression).

❖ Feedback ❖

From 1 to 10, how helpful was the workshop to you (1 is the least helpful and 10 is the most helpful)? Optionally, you can send me the number and/or share your thoughts. Your feedback helps us improve. You can send me a message on Facebook or email me.   Facebook: facebook.com/seanlaurence   Email:  laurence.sean@gmail.com   

❖ Websites to help with pronunciation ❖

youglish.com   rachelsenglish.com   howmanysyllables.com   fluentu.com   soundsofenglish.org   ELSAspeak.com

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