My favorite lessons to teach at school are the ones that involve speech, pronunciation, and diction. Here is a perfect example of why:
Nobody likes to make mistakes. I hate trying to speak Cebuano, knowing that I'm going to butcher the words and everybody will laugh; therefore I understand when students are shy about speaking English to me. I've found however that the one time they are not afraid to step outside of the box and are willing to make mistakes is when I introduce the speech lessons. I preface the lesson with, "this is a lesson where we're all going to make mistakes, and it's okay to laugh."
The second year class is broken into two sections. One is for advanced students, which I taught yesterday. Within that section, my counterpart and I have broken them into boys and girls, and then teach them seperately. This takes the class size from around 40, to only 20. While I was teaching the boys, we had an impromptu speech lesson (nothing, and I mean nothing, beats an impromptu speech lesson with the advanced second year boys [their age being equievalent to 7th grade boys in America]).
The word was "sheet." The context, "stratus clouds are layered and like sheets of paper." Making the long E sound, was just not happening with the boys. They were really trying, but it always ended up sounding like the short i sound. No matter what we tried; whether it be stressing the E, breaking the word into syllables, drawing other words out of it, NOTHING worked. I couldn't stop laughing. Laughter would have been the worst possible thing to do with the girl's group, but with these boys it was the perfect way to just say, "Ok, maybe we just won't get the word 'sheet' correct today."
For some reason though, I didn't feel it was right to let the boys go out of the classroom knowing they could always make me crack up by saying the word 'sheet,' so I made them all take a solemn vow to always add "of paper" whenever they have the say 'sheet.' It was a fun class.