Sentence generations: Practice with front vowels

In anticipation of my next YouTube video, I’d like to share the following exercise for front vowels. The basic game is a combination of activities you are likely familiar with, but the sequence nicely challenges students to practice more and more independently. You can easily adapt the game for practice with other target sounds.

Step 1 – Place students in small groups of 2 or 3. Give each group a set of cards (see Front vowels_activity handout). Note that one set = 20 cards cut out.

Step 2 – First, have students lay out all the name cards: Jean, Jim, Jane, Jen, and Jan. Then ask them to sort the remaining cards according to the vowel sounds. They must match each card to the key sounds represented by the name cards, i.e., all the words with /i/ will be grouped with “Jean”, all the words with / ɪ / will be grouped with “Jim”, etc.

Step 3 – Correct students’ choices in the sorting task, and then do a choral listen-repeat of each grouping.

Step 4 – Have them shuffle the cards and place them face down in a pile. Taking turns, each student will draw two cards at a time. They must make sentences using their two cards. After stating the sentence, the other student(s) must pose one question each to ask for more details using those same two key words. Place the cards to the side after they are used. Model:

Student A: [Draws cards “Jean” and “friend”.] Jean is my friend.

Student B: How long have you and Jean been friends?

Student C: Do you and your friend Jean study or work together?

>> Student B now draws two new cards.


23 Comments Add yours

  1. Quynh says:

    Thank you Jennifer, I’m a student, and I found that your instruction is really helpful. Wish you and your family a happy new year.

    1. Thank you for visiting my blog! I send my best wishes to you as well. May 2012 bring you much joy!

  2. Tai says:

    Thank you very much Jenn.I really like the way you teach . You are great teacher…..Wish you and your family have a wonderful .

    1. Thank you. I hope you’ll visit my website and forum, too. 🙂

  3. Larbi says:

    hello jennifer thank u so much for ur importants lessons on youtube , but i have a question, there are some words like boot and book how can i know the diferents of pronunciation?

    1. It’s true that a letter or letter combination in English can represent more than one sound. First, learn patterns. “Oo” coule be a long U or a short U sound. But “oo”‘ cannot be a long E sound. Then at least you can make an educated guess when you see a new word, for example, MOOT. You’ll think, well, the “oo” is followed by a T as in “boot,” so it’s likely a long U sound. Finally, you check a dictionary to either see or hear the pronunciation.

  4. Ernesto Benedito Fo says:

    I understand the position: lips, jaw and mouth… I don´t understand the position the tongue. Is the same? Or move for front high is high e front low is low… Appear always low… Where can I get a script in english?

    Grato! Muito Obrigado! Thanks! Beijos!

    1. The tongue is generally high in front for front vowels.
      I think you might benefit from this site. It’s called Phonetics: The sounds of American English.
      The University of Iowa has nicely modeled each vowel sound.

  5. Hernando Vásquez Largo says:

    Hola, Jeniffer. Simplemente quiero felicitarte por lo que haces y agradecerte todo el conocimiento que compartes. Hasta el momento me ha parecido muy claro y bastante pedagógico tu trabajo.
    Thanks a lot. God bless you. Greetings from Colombia.

    1. Thank you, Hernando!
      Best wishes to you,

  6. Ronin says:

    My name is Ronny, from Brazil. Jennifer, you are the best.

    1. Thank you for the support, Ronny!

  7. gaus says:

    thanks, I m indonesian , I like the way
    you teach ,Ur videos have helped me improve my english, sorry my english is too bad hehe 🙂

    1. Thank you for your kind feedback. You can visit my website and enjoy more resources there.

  8. Lilly says:

    Hi Jennifer, I just found your videos on YouTube, and it has been very useful. But I’m only at the beginning and there are so many questions that I can not found an answer. Can you help with just one question? Why cucumber has that pronunciation? Thanks

    1. Hi Lilly,

      You can post language questions on the community forum.

      “Cucumber” is indeed a funny word to pronounce! “CU” can be with or without that /y/ sound. Other words with the /y/: cute, acute, accumulate, accuse. There are likely more words with the short “u”: cut, cunning, cuff, cup, cuss. If you’ll notice, that long “yu” is usually in a combination with a consonant and long “e.” In “cucumber” the long “yu” is at the end of a syllable. In contrast, the short “u” is in a consonant-vowel-consonant combination.

      Hope that helps and hope to see you on the forum!

  9. Lilly says:

    Thank you so much. I never went to school to learn English, but when I have time I study by my self, and those little details make all the difference to understand the language.

  10. nassir says:

    thank you very much your very nice and effective

    1. Thank you for checking out this post.

  11. thanks a lot for you Jennifer . I am realy benefited a lot . I am excited to complete watching your videos . thanks from Egypt .

    1. Thank you for stopping by. Kind wishes to you!

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