Heather & The Sound Cavern

‘Day’ or ‘They’? A power Emopron story will tell them neatly apart!

Many teachers begin their English pronunciation practice by introducing vocabulary. This is the way in which many textbooks writers advise EFL practitioners to teach pronunciation. Unfortunately, in the case of students whose mother tongue bears no resemblance to English —such as Spanish—, this actually makes comprehension indeed difficult.

Drilling pronunciation is a non-desirable form of instruction, especially for children, because it is difficult to use a meta-language to describe the place of articulation of new sounds as young learners are faced with them. A typical example of this occurs when Spanish speakers say “day” when the intended term is “they”. The Spanish “d” is not the same as the English voiced “th” as in the article “the”. The Spanish [d] is a voiced alveolar stop, while the English “th” sound is a voiced dental fricative. They are two distinctively different sounds. When the Spanish “d” occurs between two vowels, it is pronounced like the voiced “th” [ð] in English. For example, “enojado” in Spanish means angry and the syllables “ado” are pronounced “ah-though” because the “d” stands between “a” and “o”, making the sound intervocalic.

Now, the difference between English and Spanish is that in English, the sounds [d] and [ð] are two separate phonemes, while in Spanish [d] and [ð] are two different versions of the same phoneme /d/. As we move into the foreign language and its phonemic characteristics, “day” /deɪ/ should be presented as a word completely different from “they”/ðeɪ/.

“Heather and the Sound Cavern” is a story that promotes the acquisition of the [ð] sound in “they”, and the [d] sound in “day,” and relates the sound to the spelling by featuring fantasy characters. It is precisely through fantasy characters and stories that children will remember how to produce the new target sounds and relate them to the spelling. A step up involves combining the teaching of pronunciation with that of spelling, which entails another important skill that speeds up the learning of pronunciation, reading and writing. That is the main goal of Emopron stories. Yet, the starting point lies on the level of the phonemes that are non-existent in EFL learners’ mother tongue.

EFL Phonics Stories

By Prof. & Lic. Stella Palavecino, M.A.

All of these books are accompanied by teaching additional material, which can be found at

If you want to buy this book, email us at