Silent E, Evil E, Magic E: Videos and Songs

I’ll never forget the day my son came home and told me all about how evil the letter ‘e’ can be. He taught me that the letter ‘e’ sometimes goes at the end of words and makes the vowels say their names. How rude! While I remember learning about Silent ‘e’ (worked for me), I’ve since learned that there are many other names for this trickster of a letter, including Evil E and Bossy E.

Are you using Sprout English’s Spotlight Phonics lesson in class this week? Have you reviewed Tanya’s pronunciation tips? Here are some fun songs and stories to share with your learners to get these rules to stick!

Evil E

“Say it Vowel! Say your name!”
Young kids act out a funny play with letters and demonstrate how ‘e’ hops over other letters and makes the vowel in front say its name. Evil E is bit of a bully, isn’t he?


Silent ‘e’ Words: Pronunciation

Do your students have difficulty with the pronunciation of short and long English vowel sounds? There are some spelling rules that can help young learners recognize when a long vowel sound is needed. One such rule involves the final, silent ‘e’ in a word, and this is the focus of this week’s Spotlight lesson: Silent ‘e’ Words 1.

This lesson is one of four involving four-letter words with a silent ‘e’ ending. There are 11 pages of spelling and writing practice in the first lesson, but what about audio? Listening and oral repetition is essential for a good pronunciation lesson. The teacher can certainly model the words, but it’s a good idea to have another source for listening practice too. (more…)

Silent ‘e’ Words: Phonics Lesson

English spelling and pronunciation can be difficult to master, but we can help! Sprout English has four lessons on words ending in the unpronounced final ‘e,’ a little letter that greatly affects the pronunciation of the main vowel of a word. This week’s Spotlight lesson is Silent ‘e’ Words 1. (more…)

50+ Grammar, Vocabulary & Pronunciation Resources for Teaching Young ELLs

Time flies when you’re having fun! When you enjoy blogging about grammar, teaching, and the English language as much as I do, a year of weekly blog posts goes by just like that! Our goal at Sprout English has always been to provide quality educational materials to English teachers and students, and my personal wish is that teachers and students will continue to learn from and use our free blog materials. We love helping young learners grow their English skills!

I thought it would be helpful to organize all the articles I’ve written so far into a list that’s easily accessible. (Some articles are included twice if they belong to more than one category.) I hope you find this resource list useful! (more…)

Pronunciation of Past Tense Endings

Many languages have a one-to-one spelling-pronunciation relationship, but the English language has no such thing! This is why English pronunciation is difficult for learners to master. On top of the 26 vowel sounds and many tricky consonant sounds such as “th”, students need to learn the pronunciation of endings that change according to the last sound of the word. For example, the past tense ending -ed can be pronounced as /t/, /d/, or /ɪd/ depending on the last letter of the verb. Luckily there are rules for such cases!

Today’s blog post was inspired by this week’s Spotlight lesson, Juan and Sofia – Simple Past Reading, which has an exercise on the spelling rules for adding -ed (the past tense ending of regular verbs). I thought it would be helpful to blog about the different ways of pronouncing the -ed ending. Note that I use the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) in this post. Play the audio examples at the end of this article for pronunciation practice for your students or children.

1. Pronounce the -ed ending as /t/ following voiceless consonants. (more…)

Pronunciation Practice: L & R

This week’s Spotlight lesson is our Phonics lesson: M to R, which gives low-level learners printing and pronunciation practice. The letter “R” inspired me to write this post on perhaps the trickiest bit of pronunciation in English: the /r/ sound. I’ve had students from all over the world struggle to pronounce /r/ as we do in English! Minimal pairs with /l/ and /r/ can be especially difficult for English language learners, so I thought I’d include some practice in my blog post today.

Tongue position:

What position does the tongue need to be in to form the /l/ and /r/ sounds in English? In most languages, including English, the /l/ sound is produced with the tip of the tongue against the back side of the front teeth. The tongue “flaps” or flicks outward when making the /l/ sound. Most students have no problem making the /l/ sound.

The /r/ sound, in most languages other than English, is made with the tip of the tongue near the front teeth (similar to the /l/ sound in English). The tongue often flaps or trills in this position. The English /r/, however, calls for the tongue to be much farther back in the mouth. The tongue stays flat and doesn’t move up and down. (See the pronunciation tips section below for more /r/ pronunciation info to give to students.) (more…)

Phonics Lesson: M to R

Sprout’s Phonics Cafe section offers many lessons to help improve low-level English learners’ printing, writing, spelling, and pronunciation. This section starts with the alphabet and works up to letter combinations and words that are difficult to pronounce and spell. This week’s Spotlight lesson is on the letters M to R. Your students will love the colorful illustrations and engaging activities!

This 20-page phonics lesson can be broken up and done over several days so that your learners get as much practice as they need. It starts off with simple printing exercises for the uppercase and lowercase letters M through R. The colorful images also give learners a chance to practice their pronunciation. (more…)

How to Introduce Yourself in English

This week’s Spotlight lesson is our new Simple Present – Be lesson, where language learners can get a lot of practice introducing themselves. Introductions are one of the first things students need to learn to do in a new language. Feeling confident and comfortable doing so can go a long way to making language learning an enjoyable experience.

Like most (if not all) languages, there are a variety of ways to introduce ourselves in English, and we don’t want our students freezing up in the real world if they hear a variation from what they practiced in class. That’s why dialogues that show possible variations (such as the free, printable dialogue below) are great—students can see other ways of saying the target phrase and repeat the basic conversation several times without getting bored.

For listening practice and as a model before the students try it themselves, play the audio clip at the bottom of this post or ask for two volunteers. (more…)

Pronunciation Practice: Name Games

Over the weekend I played a fun getting-to-know-you-better game with my own children. We each wrote ten questions, and then guessed how we thought the other person would answer. I was surprised to discover that my son knew me better than my daughter (based on the ten questions I picked). It didn’t surprise me that my kids knew each other better than I knew them!

One of the questions I included on my list was, “What’s your favorite name?” My kids thought it was hilarious that I chose my own name (Tara) as my favorite name. My son guessed that I would pick my daughter’s name (firstborn) and my daughter guessed that I would pick the name of the main character in the novel I wrote. The truth is, your own name is the sweetest name you’ll ever hear (even if you don’t love it). According to research, if a business uses your name, and pronounces it correctly, you are more likely to go back and do business again. You are also more likely to make friends with a person who remembers your name (and says it properly). Hearing your own name pronounced incorrectly (or having someone call you the wrong name), however, has the opposite effect.

If your students are just learning each other’s names, or if you’re starting a class with a new group of students, explore some different ways to practice the pronunciation of each other’s names. Here are some fun activities to try:

My Favorite Name

First, ask your students to write down their favorite name on a scrap piece of paper. Tell your students that you won’t take any questions (some students will want to ask if they can choose their own name). Next, ask your students to hold up their papers. Count how many people picked their own name and have a discussion about it. (more…)