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Pronunciation Gong Show


Today's Snack: A "gong" is a large, bronze disk that's kind of like a heavy metal Frisbie or a giant, thick cymbal. You hit it like a shallow bell to make a distinctive "gong" sound. Gongs come from ancient China, but they became famous in the U.S. after someone invented "The Gong Show." It was a contest between performers to try to win a prize. If a performer's singing or dancing was bad, on this show the judges would hit a "gong," and that meant the singer or dancer lost. Since we're talking about a form of a bell, let's have a snack of sliced bell peppers dipped in ranch dip, with a glass of orange juice.




Chinese gong, duck call, cowbell,

buzzer, kazoo or other funny noisemaker


Lined paper and No. 2 pencil



There's a strong link between how you pronounce words, and how you spell them. It's important to pronounce words correctly, because you form a mental image of what a word should look like on paper when you say it aloud.


Sound somehow translates into the image of the letters in a word, inside our brains, when we hear the word. And you want that image to be correct. It's much easier to learn a word's spelling correctly the first time, rather than having to go back later and re-learn how it is spelled with much effort.


For the most part, if you are pronouncing a word correctly when you say it aloud, you are "hearing" all the letters that come together into producing those sounds that are spelled a particular way. And that's an efficient way to learn how to spell.


When you say / bat / your mind can picture the phonogram that makes the / b / sound - the alphabet letter "b" - followed by the short a sound -- / a / -- which is spelled "a" - with the / t / sound taking up the rear. You say "bat," and you can spell it.


Now, it's perfectly normal for young children to mispronounce words. In fact, it's part of their charm! But there comes a time when you need to spell words correctly, and say them right, too. It's amazing how those two skills - clear, crisp, correct pronunciation, and clear, crisp, correct spelling - develop together.


Of course, as with everything in language arts, there are exceptions. You just have to memorize those. For example, Wednesday isn't the spelling that makes sense for the pronunciation we Americans use -- "Wenzday."


Similarly, even though "said" is the past tense of "say," and we change the "y" in "say" to an "i" for the word "said," it still doesn't sound like it rhymes with "paid," and it sounds like it should be spelled "sedd.")


Another example: business sounds like it should be spelled "bizness."


So we need to keep an eye on the many exceptions, where the pronunciation and spelling don't match. But don't let that keep you from the general rule, which is that the better you can pronounce words, the better you can spell them.


Scattered among the following words are some of the most commonly mispronounced words. Let's have fun while we learn to pronounce, and then spell, these words correctly.


Here's how it works: an adult pronounces the words one by one, and the students listen for mistakes. The adult should pronounce some words correctly, and goof up in others, so the students really have to listen.


If you have a funny noisemaker of some kind - a duck call, a gong, a cowbell - it's fun to make that noise when the pronunciation is wrong.


Exaggerate how clearly you say the syllables so that every sound in the word can be heard plainly.


When you've gone through the list, dictate them again for the students to write, and check the spelling.



tur tle


cook ie


sam mich (sandwich)


be lieve


thcool (school)


ap ple


Mon dy (Monday)


broth er


tae kon dwo (tae kon dwo)


feath er


aks as in "I'm going to aks a question" (ask)


ath e lete (ath lete)


driv en


bid ness (business)


pitch er (right and wrong: could be picture)


can ni date (candidate)


ex cape (escape)


yes ter day


li bary (library)


pop u la tion


ex pe ci al ly (especially)


twen ny (twenty)


af ter noon


jew ler y (jewelry)


vid e o


per scrip tion (prescription)


pa sket ti (spaghetti)


By Susan Darst Williams Writing 2010


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