Phonetic Spelling Alphabet—
A Pronunciation
Lesson Plan

Mar 18th, 2017 | By | Category: In the Classroom
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Ana Wu

Ana Wu


—Level: Low and High-Beginning

Time: 30-40 minutes

Topic: Spelling Your Name

Rationale: As students need to interact with native speakers of English and speakers of other languages, it is important that they spell out their names clearly, especially when dealing with law-enforcement officers, financial-institution customer services, and medical front-desk clerks.

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will learn about the “musicality” of stating their first and last name.
  • Students will practice the intonation of spelling out their names using the phrase “as in.”
  • Students will practice spelling their names out using clarifying letters.

Materials: Worksheet Handout (click here for worksheet)


a. I write these sentences on the board, leaving space between them:

My first name is Ana.

My last name is Wu.

b. I ask students to draw a line showing the intonation. At this point, they have done this type of activity a few times before. This is what it could look like:

art for in the classroom ana wu

c. Then I have students repeat the phrase “as in” without writing it on the board. It’s important that they get the “musicality” and the linking /æzɪn/ correct (here I don’t teach the schwa sound).

d. Next, I have students repeat: “A as in Apple, N as in Nose, A as in Apple,” a few times. Students are not reading, but repeating after me, because it’s important that they get the intonation and focus words right. I don’t want them to read (and sound robotic) but to feel the musicality of each sentence.

e. I explain how people in the US use clarifying words to spell out names so that listeners can clearly understand the spelling. I tell them that if they use a different musicality, such as that of Chinese or Japanese, listeners may not understand them. Levis, Sonsaat, Link, and Barriuso (2016) state that if the pattern is unfamiliar, listeners may not hear you, even if you speak clearly (page 37). Since I teach low- and high-beginning adult students, I teach students to use simple vocabulary such as colors, fruits, days of the week, months, and city names.

f. The final activity is the mingling activity (see worksheet). Here, I demonstrate by first using my name and then with two to three volunteers. Students also practice spelling out their street name. During this mingle, there will be three groups of students asking different questions.

Ana Wu is a member of the CATESOL NNLEI and ToP Interest Groups. She teaches ESL at City College of San Francisco. You can find more about her work at


Levis, J., Sonsaat, S., Link, S., & Barriuso, T. A. (2016). Native and nonnative teachers of L2 pronunciation: Effects on learner performance. TESOL Quarterly, 50, 894–931. doi:10.1002/tesq.272


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