- Module 1: introduction to language structure
- Students can distinguish letters and sounds in their thinking and in notation.
- They know some of the possible mismatches (e.g. alternative pronunciations or spellings, clusters of letters or one sound and vice versa) and have appropriate metalanguage
- They are used to studying mismatch patterns in different languages via datasets, and to working out the correct generalisations
- They are used to handling different versions of the Roman alphabet (e.g. diacritics and non-English letters), but not necessarily more fundamentally different kinds of writing systems - these could be studied in a separate unit.
- Writing and speech are fundamentally different manifestations of language, so letters and sounds are different kinds of thing.
- Speech is prior to writing in (almost) every sense.
- Sounds can be represented by a transcription, but this is different from ordinary writing, and the relations may be complex.
- Sounds are organised systematically, e.g. in terms of voicing.
- It's important to distinguish transcriptions visually from writing by using /.../.
- There are different kinds of mismatch. (Is there an established terminology for these mismatch types?):
- clusters: 1 sound = 2 letters or v.v.
- alternatives: 1 sound = 2 letters or v.v.
- The relations between sounds and letters are essentially arbitrary so they vary from language to language.
Teaching (divided into three 40-minute lessons)
Lesson 1 (cluster mismatches)
- activity: count the number of sounds and letters in various words where there's a clustering mismatch:
- discussion: Which comes first?
- teaching: introduce transcription conventions:
- <...> for orthography
- /.../ and the IPA for pronunciation. Introduce a few IPA symbols:
- activity: transcribe the words studied earlier; keep /i,o/ for vowels but promise IPA symbols later.
- activity: work out 'phoneme-grapheme' (sound-letter) correspondence rules for consonants.
- discussion: are these cases irregular or just complicated?
- Non-English: Czech
- activity: consider some C words (S/C = s/c^hachek), together with their IPA transcriptions (: = length):
- box /boks/ 'boxing', Sa'lek /esh+alek/ 'cup', Cokola'da /t^esh+okola:da/ 'chocolate'
- activity: Work out the phoneme-grapheme correspondence rules for the words in this sentence.
- Discussion: What's the general difference between C spelling and English? Which is better?
- activity: Transcribe the following: Clen 'member', SaSek 'clown', Ci'Sni'k 'waiter'
- teaching: summarise the main points.
Lesson 2 (alternative mismatches)
- activity: select a letter and collect examples of alternative pronunciations, and vice versa. E.g.:
- <s>: /s/ (sin) or /z/ (is)
- /s/: <s> (sin) or <ss> (miss) or <ce> (rice)
- activity: dictate nonsense words for them to write in orthography.
- discussion: what rules were they applying? Do these rules have exceptions?
- teaching: /s/ and /z/ are phonetically related by voicing, so it's no coincidence that they're confused in orthography.
- teaching: introduce more IPA consonants in voiceless:voiced pairs:
- /s:z, f:v, t:d, p:b, k:g/
- Non-English: Welsh
- activity: consider some Welsh words borrowed from English and work out the pronunciation of <f>, <ff> and <c>:
- actif 'active', ffigur 'figure', ffocws 'focus', lefel 'level', proffesiwn 'profession', tancer 'tanker', cic 'kick'.
- discussion: what are the phoneme correspondences for these Welsh letters? Is there a general difference between the spelling of borrowed words in Welsh and in English? Which language is likely to have more regular correspondences?
- activity: guess how the following Welsh names are pronounced (<ch> = /x/) and transcribe them:
- Fforest Fach /forest vax/, Ffestiniog /festiniog/, Cefn /kevn/, Caernarfon /kaernarvon/
- teaching: a bit about the history of Welsh. The phonological regularity of Welsh spelling. Summary of main points about alternative phoneme-grapheme correspondences.
Lesson 3 (Systems)
- activity: work out the rule for using a or an, using a sample of words:
- pear, apple, school, youth, uncle, university
- does the rule apply to letters or to sounds?
- teaching: distinguish consonants and vowels. Introduce:
- phonology = study of how sounds are organised.
- phonotactics = study of how sounds combine with each other.
- activity: does a word have to contain a vowel?
- discussion: is <y> a consonant or a vowel?
- Compare words such as: <youth>, <by>
- Non-English: Czech and Welsh
- activity: why do the following words look odd to us?
- Czech: trg 'market', krk 'neck', rok 'year', vlk 'wolf', led 'ice'
- Welsh: cwm 'valley', cwt 'tail', bwlch 'gap', winc 'wink', wns 'ounce'
- discussion: What's going on?
- teaching: it's important to distinguish 'function' from 'form':
- a consonant-like sound may function as syllable nucleus.