12 songs to practice the pronunciation of -ED endings

As you know, the “-ed” endings of regular past tense verbs can be pronounced in three different ways: /t/, /d/ and /ɪd/, which is the one most students tend to overuse. Click here for an overview of the rules.

Over the years, I have found that /t/ and /d/ are easier to notice and to produce if the verb comes immediately before a word beginning with a vowel sound:

liked it – /laɪktɪt/
dreamed of – /driːmdəv/

To help students get their tongues around the two sounds, I usually ask them to move /t/ and /d/ to the front of the vowel sound. This makes it obvious that there’s no room for /ɪ/:

liked it – /laɪk tɪt/
dreamed of – /driːm dəv/

Out of all the ideas and techniques I’ve used in class, this has probably been the most effective.

So I decided to put together a 7-minute video containing 12 song excerpts you can use to help your students notice how /t/ and /d/ are linked to the vowel sounds that follow. There’s a good mix of recent and older songs, which should appeal to lots of different students.

The video is suitable for late A2, B1 and B2 students, who will have learned the basic -ED rules, but may still struggle to produce the sounds accurately. The on-screen activities are all self-explanatory.

You will notice that the activities do not test whether students can choose between /t/ and /d/. The difference is barely audible in fast connected speech, and it rarely causes misunderstandings. Also, since most students tend to overuse /ɪd/ and avoid /t/ or /d/, the song excerpts focus on the latter, rather than the former.

By the way, if the video is out of synch, go back to the beginning and / or refresh the page.

Thanks for reading – and watching.

Betty Pow (part 2)

Here’s the second part of Betty Pow’s article on pronunciation. Click here for part 1.

Making Sense of Intonation

One of my favorite approaches for raising learners´ awareness of meaning conveyed by intonation is Rita Wong’s (1987) selection of one-word conversations, which teachers can adapt or recreate, such as the ones below: Continue reading Betty Pow (part 2)

Betty Pow (part 1)

Pronunciation in Teacher Development:
Teachers’ needs, challenges and rewards – Part 1


In my work as a teacher and teacher educator, I have come across controversial views on pronunciation among novice and experienced teachers. Although there has been a paradigm shift in approaches to pronunciation by relating it to issues of identity, ideology and World Englishes (Abdalla Nunes & Pow, 2008; Canagarajah, 2002; Graddol, 2006), certain views seem to prevail. Continue reading Betty Pow (part 1)