TEFL Tips – Past Tense Pronunciation

Starting out teaching English? It can be a bit daunting – I remember the first class well. Preparation helps, but you’re probably going to be ‘winging it’ a bit. So here’s ten top TEFL tips from me. They’ll work on native Spanish speakers, and I imagine a few other languages too. They are, in my experience, the most common mistakes made, and will give you something to look out for, teach and practise. It’ll kill at least 10 minutes of your lesson!

There are three possible pronunications for regular past tense verbs. You know – the ones ending in -ed! These being: ‘t, ‘d and ‘id. For example, ‘walked’ finishes with a ‘t sound; ‘played’ ends with a ‘d sound. And ‘started’ ends with a ‘id sound. The last one is the important one.

Any verb ending in a ‘d’ or ‘t’ in regular tense (or ending ‘de’ ot ‘te’ – such as deride) will have the ‘id sound at the end. Started, founded, blinded, courted…. You’ll find most Spanish speakers get this, most of the time. The problem is that they will apply the rule to other verbs. Instead of saying play’d, they’ll say play’id.

How to tell if it’s a ‘t or ‘d sound at the end? No rule I know of, but to be honest most of the time it won’t matter so much. Play is one example of a verb they need to get right – finish it with a ‘t and they are saying ‘plate’. But most of the time, it’s not a big deal, or even noticeable.

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