Mumbling technique

Mumbling technique

Mumbling? What’s this? Is it about shy children who speak indistinctly? Well, not exactly. 

Mumbling is a way of the drill when you tell young learners to say words, phrases or sentences again to give them more pronunciation practice. 

How does it work?

  1. Present and model the target language several times. 
  2. Have the children mumble it to themselves.
  3. Drill the target language in chorus.
  4. Do individual drilling.

Why do I need this “mumbling” step?

Firstly, it provides your learners with the opportunity to “chew” the words first, “taste” them, “try” them in their mouth.

Secondly, they have a chance to practise the language on their own at the beginning. As a result, it will make them more confident when they drill the structures together with a group and say aloud in front of everyone.

Does this technique work only for the “target language” drilling?

Good news! You can use mumbling for many other tasks in the classroom. 

Story-telling.

  1. Give children a story to read at home and ask them to retell it to themselves by mumbling. 
  2. In class, give them 5 minutes to “rehearse” and repeat the story again by mumbling. 
  3. Discuss the plot of the story together. You can make pictures of the story stages to provide visual support.
  4. Have children retell the story in details one by one. Use the pictures to support again.

Rhymes, chants, songs. 

This is a great way to make children learn a new language. The rhythm, the music help to store the language in long-term memory. You can repeat the same steps as in story-telling or you can do it in a different way.

  1. Ask children to learn a rhyme, a chant or a song at home and tell them to “rehearse” it to themselves by mumbling. 
  2. In class, have them start repeating it by mumbling first. 
  3. Then, tell them when you clap your hands, they should start saying it a bit more loudly. Repeat clapping 3-4 times.
  4. Have them saying a rhyme, chant or song together in chorus.
  5. Then you can divide students into groups or pairs. For example, one group starts to say the rhyme, another group continues.
  6. Finally, tell them to say or sing one by one line by line.

Here you can also read about another idea about using mumbling in class.

Mumbling is a great technique as an inner rehearsal is what can enhance our language significantly. I’ve also noticed that many learners do this instinctively even when they weren’t not specifically taught to do this. And by the way, not only children. I remember myself being a teenager, I was abroad and had to ask something at the reception desk. I repeated all the questions to myself over and over. This allowed me to concentrate on the language, “make” correct sentences, check myself and my pronunciation. The same happened when I had my first job interview in English.

Use this effective technique as it facilitates the learning process a lot! Good luck!



Наринэ Егорова

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