Sunday, September 11, 2016

The word "learn" - 5 minute end of lesson activity English pronunciation

This is a mini-lesson that you can use when you have a few minutes at the end of a lesson, or to start a lesson, while students are settling down. 

I came across this idea when I was reading Penny Ur's books.

The word learn is very interesting.  the proper pronunciation is: 'lern'

Why is this?  

The usual rule when we have two vowels, the e and the a is: 

"When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking!" 

Well, this doesn't work in this case.  Usually we find that if there are two vowels, e and a, the e is long and the a is silent. 

Here are some examples of this:  eat, beat, seat.  You get the idea. 

but with the word "learn" we have an exception.  not only is the e not long, but we also have an r.  

In English we don't usually think of the letter r interfering with pronunciation, but other languages do.  Hebrew categorizes the r sound as changing the pronunciation of certain words, and in Asian languages, the r and the l sound are the same sound.  (comments welcome) 

So back to our word learn.  Here the r makes itself felt and the rule of two vowels is disregarded. 

When we add the ing, we say lernin  the g is almost not there in this word. 

So have fun with learning the word LEARN! 

Rachael Alice Orbach - professional English teacher 

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