As I got ready to publish the latest lesson in my YouTube series Pronunciation of English Vowel Sounds, I realized that a classroom activity for back vowels was needed. I decided to recyle and modify Sentence Generations for this small group of four vowels: /u, ʊ, oʊ, ɔ/. Click on the link below to go to the printable handout.
Step 1 – Place students in small groups of 2 or 3. Give each group a set of cards from the Back vowels_activity handout. (1 set = 16 cards cut out)
Step 2 – First, have students lay out all the key word cards in blue: boot, book, boat and bought. 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 key word cards, i.e., all the words with /u/ will be grouped with “boot”, all the words with /ʊ/ will be grouped with “book”, 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. (Some sentences will likely be silly.) 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 “boot” and “good”.] I need a pair of good boots.
Student B: Why do you need a pair of boots?
Student C: Do you know any stores that sell good boots?
Student B now draws two new cards.