Pronunciation: Teaching with Adrian Underhill’s phonemic chart


The reason I decided to apply for a Comenius  grant to be able to go to Pilgrims to attend a professional development course, back in 2011, was the same reason most  teachers go to Pilgrims for: new ideas, to be refreshed and to experience the unique Pilgrims difference, which focuses on our continuous personal and professional development.

But, the best part about the Pilgrims experience for me, was the training courses I attended and especially the free Seminars, Workshops and Activities to choose from at 16:00 or 20:00 on 3 or 4 days per week.

I had my best time , in those afternoon classes…and I shared unforgettable fun moments with my international colleagues, in them!

My most favourite afternoon trainers were Adrian Underhill who taught me pronunciation through his beautiful music and  Peter Dyer , who utilized his drama experience with his teaching methodology.


Adrian, helped me fix the wrong way I used to pronounce ‘“G” sounds…..Adrian also, taught me how to incorporate his Pron Chart layout into my teaching, first just to help myself, and gradually reveal it to my learners as they became ready for it.

It was the best introduction to the phonemic chart I could ever have had.

He gave me a huge boost of confidence as I realized it wasn’t as scary as I thought, and using the chart as Adrian does was incredibly engaging.

One thing that stood out for me was that he advised us not to wait to use the chart in class until we were ready, but to dive in and go on a journey with the learners.

His  chart is now an integral part of my lessons.


Several times so far, I have  taught pronunciation skills to my students using  Adrian Underhill`s chart ~which I was given at Pilgrims, some time ago and have  followed his suggestions about how to teach pronunciation in a fun and playful way! My students just love it!! They always ask for more  !One of them , once said… ” I had no idea miss that, learning the phonemes can be such great fun!!”

Adrian, read my relevant facebook post, and my fb friends’ comments and questions about my work on phonemes, three weeks ago and replied with this message:

“Good to hear you out there. In response to your comments I’ve just posted a list of Pronunciation Teacher Training Videos and Resources on my pronunciation blog at I hope you’ll find what you need there, but let me know if not. If you search online you’ll also find other videos not mentioned below. The resources include articles, online pron charts, classroom wall pron charts, the app, and the book.Good wishes to all in your pron work!”


 So, here you are……..Feel free to join the fun!

Thanks, Adrian! Keep inspiring us!

Pronunciation Teacher Training Videos and Resources – available for use with Adrian Underhill’s Sound Foundations approach


1.. Series of 39 3-Minute teacher training videos This deals with each of the sounds in turn, a guide to the pron chart and how to use it, how to exploit the physicality of pronunciation, lots of teaching tips. Available to view free of charge here

2.. My talk on Proprioception in learning new sounds, words and connected speech is available on Youtube here   Filmed at the British Council, London, in February 2015

3.. One Hour Sound Foundations teacher training video, plus various shorter extracts, is available to view here. Filmed at Oxford University


Other resources

On this new Macmillan One Stop English page you can find the following:

– Videos, various shorter and longer Sound Foundations Videos

– Articles Recent articles on pronunciation teaching

– The Charts British and American English Interactive phonemic charts, with sounds and optional sample words. Classroom charts are also obtainable free from Macmillan ELT. Ask your local representative.

– The App Sounds: The Pronunciation App

– The Book Sound Foundations: Learning and Teaching Pronunciation

Go here for all the above resources

And of course check out this blog – you’re here now! To date there are 80 posts containing usable insights into pronunciation, how it works, how to turn pronunciation problems into good teaching, the physicality of pronunciation, and lots of practical lesson ideas.


The Phonetic English Joke Book

Jeremy Taylor has put together The Phonetic English Joke Book which offers 100 jokes in phonetic script followed by a ‘translation’ in normal spelling on the following page. Jeremy says it is not intended as a high level academic study but as a user and learner-friendly ebook . It will appeal to people with an interest in learning phonetic script so that they can understand word pronunciations and use dictionaries to enhance their knowledge and memory.

Some of the advantages of  The Phonetic English Joke Book that I can see are

  1. Each piece is joke length, ie short.
  2. The reader is motivated to get to the end, ie to the punch line
  3. Users acquire a facility with phonetic script through use and personal application rather than through ‘being taught’
  4. The normal text is on the next page so if you get stuck or you’ve had enough you just jump to that
Knowing the phoneme symbols for the sounds of English

Although this is not essential for learners, it is a great advantage. Why? Because it offers a way of identifying and fixing sounds, enabling learners to make lots of day to day discoveries like these: “Oh, the sound in that word is the same as in that word” and “Ah, that’s the funny sound I haven’t got, and it’s the same one in those other three words…” and “Using these symbols I find that I ‘know’ more of them that I thought” and “Ok, now I can see which are the sounds I am unsure of” and “Now I can see what’s going on, and I find it is not so mysterious! I am in control (nearly) and I feel more confident!” and “When I learn a new word I can check the dictionary and find how to say it, and this helps me remember it too…”

All the profits from sale of this ebook go to support the work of Medecins Sans Frontieres. 

For more info on The Phonetic English Joke Book and for purchase  go here The book is obtainable from Amazon and Smashwords and can be downloaded as a PDF, a mobi (for Kindle) or EPUB (for general ebook readers)


Happy phonemic chuckles….!


Life Skills- a British Council project- Activity 1-a Needs Hierarchy Pyramid

Cutting pictures, on day 1

Cutting pictures, on day 1

About a month ago, I found out that I had to teach in ….Greek ,during the so called “Flexible  Zone”  of the greek primary schools, which has to do with  projects oriented learning , for about 2 hours every week.  I had to think hard before I made up my mind and finally decided to work on a British Council project, called “Life Skills”, which sounded both  promising and challenging! I also  decided ,to do part of the project, in english!

Brainstorming, on day 1

Brainstorming, on day 1

Life Skills are not something new; they are a set of basic skills
that enable us to effectively manage the challenges and questions
we face in our daily lives. They include confidence, assertiveness,
decision-making, and the ability to stay safe
and healthy. Schools are uniquely placed to play a key role in promoting
and sustaining young people’s emotional and social health,
as part of their role in providing a rounded quality education which helps pupils
to gain the confidence they need to develop into successful adults.

Sharing ideas-day 1

Sharing ideas-day 1

This training material, has been approved by the Ministry of Education
and Religious Affairs as being pedagogically appropriate for students in the 5th and 6th grade
of Primary School and in Gymnasio following a recommendation
of the Institute of Educational Policy.

Talking about priorities-day 2

Talking about priorities-day 2

The most effective form of
learning in Life Skills education is:
• active: emphasises learning by doing
• interactive: uses discussion and debate
• relevant: focuses on real-life
issues facing young people and society
• critical: encourages young people
to think for themselves
• collaborative: includes group work
and collaborative learning
• participative: gives young people
a say in their own learning.

Thinking about what is not really necessary in life-day 1

Thinking about what is not really necessary in life-day 1

The aim of the programme is to teach students how to:
• participate actively in various
decision-making and voting processes
• weigh up what is fair and unfair in
different situations, realise that justice
is fundamental to a democratic society
and study the role of law in maintaining
order and resolving disputes

• consider how democracy, justice, diversity,
tolerance, respect and freedom
are valued by people of different
beliefs, backgrounds and traditions
within a changing democratic society
• comprehend the roles of citizens
in holding those in power to account
• explore diverse national,
regional, ethnic and religious
cultures, groups and communities
(in Greece) and the connections
between them
• take into account the interaction
between Greece, the rest of Europe
and the world.

Happy students

Happy students

I truly believe that, democracies need active, informed and responsible citizens, who are willing and able to take responsibility for themselves and their communities and contribute to the political process.

A highly enganged class!

A highly enganged class!

Life Skills education involves a wide range of diverse learning elements, which include:
• Knowledge and understanding:
Of topics such as laws and rules,
the democratic process, the media,
human rights, diversity, money
and the economy, sustainable
development, and the world as a global
community; and of concepts such
as democracy, justice, equality,
freedom, authority and the rule of law

And highly enganged teams!

Talking about life priorites- on day 2


• Skills and aptitudes: Critical thinking,
analysing information, expressing
opinions, taking part in discussions
and debates, negotiating, dispute resolution
and participating in community actions
• Values and attitudes: Respect
for justice, democracy and the
rule of law, openness, tolerance,
courage to defend a point of view,
and a willingness to listen to,
work with and stand up for others.


And highly engaged teams!!


The following first activity is a copy from the British Council   manual for trainers and teachers with recommended activities ! My mentor in this project is Faidra Tsalababouni and  I am so grateful for that!!Thanks Faidra!! You are precious!

Day 2-instructions

Day 3-instructions

Activity One: Sailing to a new land

We ask the students to imagine that they are getting ready
to set sail for a new continent. No one is living there now,
and so when they arrive, they will be responsible
for establishing a new country.

We split up the students into small groups and give each group an envelope with all the Wants and Needs cards; we explain to them that these are the things they will be packing to start their life in the new country. We ask each group
to open the envelope, share out the cards and study them.

Day 2-the pyramid

Day 3-the pyramid

We explain that the ship is setting sail and begin a story in this way: At first, the journey is very pleasant.
The sun is shining and the sea is serene. However, a big storm suddenly breaks out and the ship starts to tilt dangerously.
In fact, it is about to sink! You need to throw five of your cards overboard so that the ship can float. We ask each group to decide which cards they will throw overboard.
We explain to them that they will not be able to recover these items later on. We collect the cards that have been
“thrown overboard” and place them in a pile.


The priorities Pyramid


We continue with the story:
The storm has finally subsided. Everyone feels relieved.
However, a weather forecast reports that a Category 5 hurricane is heading towards the ship. To survive
the hurricane, you must throw another five cards overboard! Remember: don’t discard items you will most probably need to survive in your new country.
In the same way as before, we collect the cards and place them in a separate pile.


The students to place their cards on the pyramid with the important cards at the base and the less important ones at the top.


We continue with the story:
We almost didn’t make it! However, we have almost reached the new continent. Everyone is very excited. However,
just as we see land on the horizon, a huge whale crashes into our ship, tearing a hole in its side. You need to make the ship even lighter! Throw away four more cards.
We collect the cards and put them in a pile.
You announce that they have finally reached the new continent safely and are ready to build a new country. We ask each group to glue their remaining cards to a sheet of paper so that everyone can remember what they have brought with them to the new continent. Do you have all you need to survive? To grow and properly develop?


Review and evaluation:
1. We review the activity by asking questions such as:
a. What did you enjoy in this activity?
b. How did you decide on what was not needed?
What was essential?
c. Was it difficult to make certain decisions? Which ones?
d. Were there any disagreements in the group about what to keep and what to throw overboard? How did you resolve them?
e. Do all people have the same needs?
Which people may have different needs?
f. What do you think of your final choices?
Will you be able to survive in this foreign country?
Will you be able to grow and properly develop?
g. How did the group decide what to throw overboard?
h. Were you surprised by the final outcome?
i. If you were to repeat this activity a second time, would you discard different items?

Group work is encouraged in all stages!

Group work is encouraged in all stages!

2. Point out that human rights are based on human needs: the things that people need to survive, grow, properly develop and live a dignified life.
Ask questions like:
a. Did you have all you need to survive?
b. Did you have all you need to grow and properly develop?
c. Which things would you have liked to keep but decided were not essential?
• Draw a pyramid.
• Ask the students to place their cards on the pyramid
with the important cards at the base and
the less important ones at the top.



The students

•will look at alternative options, take decisions and justify their choices
•will critically evaluate different ideas and viewpoints, that they agree or disagree with
•will negotiate, make decisions and take action to try and influence others

Final Material/Stage

Students will produce/participate in:  Needs Hierarchy Pyramid

The proud winning team holding their lollipops! All students were awarded stickers!

The proud winning team holding their lollipops! All students were awarded stickers!

They are expected to discuss their choices and vote for the best pyramid! Finally, they will be asked to write an essay summarising their views and experience!

Voting for the best pyramid!

Voting for the best pyramid!

Debating about their choices

Debating about their choices


The winners of the " Life priorities pyramid " competition   !

The winners of the ” Life priorities pyramid ” competition , holding their …lollipop awards!

This is not the ordinary seating arrangement for essay writing, is it?

This is not the ordinary seating arrangement for essay writing, is it?

My students were asked to feel free to move around the classroom while writing their essays on the "life priorities" topic!

My students were asked to feel free to move around the classroom while writing their essays on the “life priorities” topic!


Four school teachers and me, selected the three best essays on the topic! The winners received awards and were asked to read their essays to their classmates!


So proud!


Reading her essay in class…




Such a precious experience for all of my students!




(to be continued…)



Our english- handwritten-magazine.

Need more than a month to collect all students' work

Need more than a month to collect all students’ work

Each issue of our handwritten magazine, for more than 10 years now,  offers new treasures for my students : stories, poems, book reviews, and artwork in a variety of styles and genres…….A great motivator for reading and writing…

One of our magazine covers...the picture was found in our old english books!our magazine is always sent to our pen pals abroad, as well!

One of our magazine covers…the picture was found in our old english books!our magazine is always sent to our pen pals abroad, as well!

It’s  is actually a motivator, for all language  skills!

In many ways a student magazine is the ideal project for language learning. There is a clearly-defined end product while there is also plenty of room for choice regarding content. The students can focus on individual interests such as sport, computers, the Environment, music, etc. – with obvious motivational benefits – while at the same time working within a clear structure to a common aim. The ‘four skills’ of reading, writing, listening and speaking are integrated naturally. For example in order to produce an article on music a student might:

a) Read articles in a music magazine to get ideas (reading)

b) Listen to songs and write down the lyrics (listening / writing)

c) Write survey questions and interview other students about their musical tastes / talents (writing / speaking / listening)

Contents vary...I give the students lots of ideas before they start writing.

Contents vary…I give the students lots of ideas before they start writing.

A great motivator for reading and writing...

A great motivator for reading and writing…


It provides integrated skills practice

It provides integrated skills practice

Within the overall school context a magazine is useful in providing a focus for written work: students know that a particularly ‘good’ piece of writing might go into the magazine. This potential for communication with a real audience provides motivation and encourages attention to style and accuracy. Students have a chance to practice a variety of text types – articles, reviews, letters, crosswords, cartoons, graphs and tables. Decisions about content provide a forum for discussion and negotiation. Finally, in common with all project work, learner autonomy and co-operation are fostered as students try out different roles and learn to get on with their peers. To sum up, a student magazine:

  • provides integrated skills practice
  • allows students to contribute each according to their ability and interests
  • provides a focus for written work
  • encourages attention to style and accuracy
  • provides a discussion and negotiation forum
  • encourages learner autonomy, co-operation and motivation


It allows students to contribute each according to their ability and interests

It allows students to contribute each according to their ability and interests

  • With so many benefits it is a wonder that EFL classes do anything else! However there are disadvantages. First, the very fact that students are able to concentrate upon individual areas of interest means they might neglect other areas. For example, a student with artistic talent may spend some time illustrating the magazine, but not practicing much English. Motivated students may end up doing all the work while less motivated students do very little.
Handwritten comics: imagination is very important.

Handwritten comics: imagination is very important.

  • Because of the high cost, I have many times thought about   running  our magazine as a mini business some day in the future,  with students working out costs and selling it on the course .. the better the magazine, the more students would buy it; the fewer the pages, the higher the profit. For the time being, I have been… sponsoring our class magazine, myself using money earned from our school Bazaar! I distribute it to students -writers only, free of charge of course, to take it home…I also, keep a couple of copies in our school English bookcase and I make sure that I send a copy to our pen pals abroad, too!
For the time being, I have been... sponsoring our class magazine, myself using money earned from our school Bazaar!

For the time being, I have been… sponsoring our class magazine, myself using money earned from our school Bazaar!

  • Conclusion                                                                                  
  •   As a general comment, based on my experience so far, school  magazines are useful in many ways. They have a great educative value. They encourage the students to think and write. So they develop their writing skills and talent. They also develop their power of thinking and strengthen their imagination. In this way the general knowledge of the students increases and they acquire the habit of reading and writing. School  magazines also teach the students the value of co-operation and encourage healthy competition. They are a source of self-help and self-confidence for students. Students find real joy when they see their names published in the school  magazines, respectively. Besides, school magazines are interesting for the ex-students of the school. They read articles and their memory of the past days becomes fresh again. These magazines are a means of bringing the ex-students and all the members of the school in touch with one another.                                                                                                   .  P.S 
  • Our bookcase is also,  full of many english magazines which  are free  for students to borrow,such as the Scholastic ELT readers- which I find fascinating!
  • Having read the amazing English newspaper  by Vivi Hamilou’s students, lately, at the Primary School of Pteleos , Greece ( ) which   who has been involved in an eTwinning project that includes exchanging English school newspapers with other European Primary Schools, I have been thinking about taking a similar step with our magazine in the near future, too!