Pronunciation and Phonology in the EFL Classroom - "Oh" Sound


Here we have a set of five words, which all share one sound: the ?oh? sound, as in ?go?, ?show?, ?dough?, ?note? and ?boat?. They?re five different spelling patterns to tell our students so they can identify when to make the ?oh? sound. We can have a simple letter ?o?, ?ow?, ?ough?, ?o? with the magic ?e? which turns our vowel into what we knew as long sounds and the ?oa? as in ?boat?. Now, for a non-native learner, perhaps they can handle something like this. They remember that these spelling combinations help to produce the ?oh? sound and they can go about their business looking at the words and memorizing this knowing that these spelling patterns will produce the sound ?oh?. Now that?s okay until we get to a situation where we can also have words like ?to?, ?cow? and also ?rough?. So the students has gone from knowing that these letters put together in these patterns will produce an ?oh? sound and now they?re confused by the fact that the same pattern can produce a different vowel sound here, it can produce a different vowel sound here and a different vowel sound here. Put this all together and we created a situation, which can become very confusing to our non-native learner. However, our international phonemic alphabet takes care of this problem by taking various spelling patterns and simplifying it into this symbol here.

Below you can read feedback from an ITTT graduate regarding one section of their online TEFL certification course. Each of our online courses is broken down into concise units that focus on specific areas of English language teaching. This convenient, highly structured design means that you can quickly get to grips with each section before moving onto the next.

When learning/ teaching a language we have to keep in mind that there are several levels we need to address: form and meaning, the way words are correlated with each other in higher structures (as phrases or sentences). Language is a complex body which involves interaction among lexical units(words) in such a way that it conveys meaning to both the speaker and the interlocutor. Vocabulary, grammar and functions are major aspects that govern communication. While grammar is important as the structure on which words are woven on, vocabulary is the one that provides meaning. Language learners get in contact with new vocabulary on a regular basis and must be able to acquire and retain it. Some factors that allow for better or more difficult learning consist of similarity to other words (in English or other languages), spelling, pronunciation, appropriacy. Learners must be able to recognize words when heard or read, know their meaning and how to use them in different contexts. Must also know how words interact with other words, their spelling and pronunciation. There are several methods to teach new vocabulary: using realia, flashcards, miming, getting the meaning of words from context, discussion. When practicing the new vocabulary best options are: crossword puzzles, gap-filling exercises, word search, matching, games, role-play, story building, making a poster, debate. Activities should be chosen according to the learners? age and level or English. Age and the level of English are also important when teaching grammar. Grammar concepts will be presented differently, depending on the target student group. If we are teaching adults, then we can use more theoretical language when explaining grammar concepts. Different types of exercises (gap-filling, drills, reordering words/sentences, making sentences) When teaching children, drawings, pictures, objects, miming are most likely to be used. Anyway, adults or children, they have to know the meaning of a structure, how/ when it is used, how it is formed, how it is spelled/ written, pronounced. Language functions are the purpose for which we learn how to speak or write a language. When we learn a language we learn to: make a complaint, make a suggestion, invite, ask for or give directions/ information, and so on.

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