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Using Blue Canoe in the classroom


Wondering how to use Blue Canoe in your classroom? The resources below are videos and documents to give you tools to support your use of Blue Canoe with your learners. It’s a lot of information. Take it piece-by-piece to incorporate into your teaching.

Please see our frequently asked questions page for more information. Send us questions and ideas to partners@bluecanoelearning.com. Tell us how you’re using Blue Canoe so we can share with other ESL teachers.

Blue Canoe® and the Color Vowel® materials

PDF Download Video for how
to use PDF
Ideas for adding Blue Canoe to your classroom
Color Vowel Chart 5th Edition (outline)
Color Vowel Organizer
Lessons in Blue Canoe
Chant: Sorry I can’t go to class today
Blue Canoe & YOU: introductory learner video
YouTube channel with short videos for students

Color Vowel Training

Get Color Vowel certified or take other Color Vowel professional development for your level and situation. For a complete list of courses and sessions go to the Color Vowel page for teachers.

Weekly Blue Canoe Teacher’s Clinics

Every Thursday at 7 p.m. U.S. Pacific Time we discuss a technique or tangible idea you can use immediately with your learners.

Open to all ESL teachers.

Register to receive meeting details.

Featured videos

How to set-up a Color Vowel classroom

17 minutes

How to use Color It Out in the classroom

21 minutes

How to use Sort It Out in the classroom

22 minutes

Blue Canoe Teacher’s Clinics

Every Thursday at 7 p.m. U.S. Pacific time we gather as teachers to discuss a topic led by Karen Taylor, co-author of the Color Vowel Approach and head of education at Blue Canoe. Catch up on past sessions below.

Teacher’s Clinic

Beyond R: Consonants that control vowels

August 13, 2020 / 48 minutes

Do the words ‘man’ and ‘map’ feature different vowel sounds? Do ‘pin’ and ‘pen’ sound the same to you? What’s the difference between the vowel in ‘goat’ and the vowel in ‘goal’?

Watch Karen Taylor for an exploration of consonants that control the vowels that precede them.

Teacher’s Clinic

R/L Feedback: What Blue Canoe is Really Telling You

August 6, 2020 / 40 minutes

R and L are very common sounds in English. They are also two of the trickiest sounds to make for many  non-native English speakers. Those sounds don’t exist in many languages.

Watch Karen Taylor explore what R and L have in common, how they’re different, and how Blue Canoe® provides corrective feedback on each of these interesting sounds.

Teacher’s Clinic

The Color Vowel Walkabout

July 31, 2020 / 35 minutes

Resources used in this video:

  • Go to Flipgrid.com for a great free platform for sharing with your students, and them with you.
  • Watch the Friday@Five session about how to use Flipgrid https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ue8am9SWTCA
  • For more examples of walkabouts to share them with your students to inspire them to make their own, go to https://flipgrid.com/+cvwalkabouts.
Teacher’s Clinic

Ready-to-Use Pronunciation Examples

July 9, 2020 / 40 minutes

Having ready-to-use pronunciation examples on hand can really boost our ability to answer students’ questions efficiently.

In this Blue Canoe Teacher’s Clinic, Karen shows you a few of her favorite examples for addressing word and focus stress, vowel quality, invisible sounds, and spelling confusion. It will inspire your own examples!

Teacher’s Clinic

The Power of Discovery

July 2, 2020 / 46 minutes

What do you do in your classes to prevent from doing all of the talking?

In this Blue Canoe Teacher’s Clinic, Karen shows you some powerful pronunciation activities to help your students discover the content you’re teaching. And the group discusses how to adapt ideas for teaching online.

Teacher’s Clinic

Using Blue Canoe in Zoom

June 25, 2020 / 47 minutes

In this Blue Canoe Teacher’s Clinic, Karen shows you how to use Blue Canoe in a Zoom meeting. As we settle into online learning, here are ways to weave Blue Canoe into your teaching moments. For example, Blue Canoe Lessons creates a common sentence you can use to teach and allow them to practice in front of you for instruction.

Pro tip
: you can prep for class and sessions using the Lessons in Blue Canoe sheet that lists all of the sentences in Blue Canoe.

Teacher’s Clinic

How to Use Chants to Teach Spoken English?

June 11, 2020 / 33 minutes

Chants are a form of music. So is spoken English given the rhythm of it. 

In this Blue Canoe Teacher’s Clinic, Karen shows you how to use chants to understand the movement of the jaw and the rhythm in each sentence. It’s easy to construct your own chant. Watch how.

Pro tip: use the sentences in Lessons in Blue Canoe to create chants that tie back to their Blue Canoe practice time.

Teacher’s Clinic

Slow Talker vs Fast Talkers: Which are you?

June 5, 2020 / 35 minutes

Do any of your learners speak quickly? There are many reasons people speak quickly: nervous, high expectations, or they’re a fast-moving person in general. Now, are they speaking quickly, or are they using long thought groups?

Watch this week’s Blue Canoe Teacher’s Clinic for the discussion and tips for how to help your learners be better understood.

Teacher’s Clinic

Accent Story

May 28, 2020 / 36 minutes

There are many different accents in English pronunciation depending on where you from. Each accent has its own story which we can recognize through their action when they are speaking and the movement of their lips. Based on the accent that was spoken, it will lead the word to a different Color Vowels.

Watch this Blue Canoe Clinic to see Karen, her special guest, master linguist Dr. Robin Barr, and teachers discuss this and practice to pronounce each word in different accent using different Color Vowels.

Teacher’s Clinic

3 Tips for Using Blue Canoe During an Online Class

May 11, 2020 / 33 minutes
Teacher’s Clinic

Which matters more: stress or Color?

May 7, 2020 / 33 minutes

Which is more important in spoken English, stress or Color? There are many English words that sound similar to taboo words. If you mispronounce these words, it can become an uncomfortable conversation. How can we avoid this from happening?

Watch this Blue Canoe Clinic to see Karen and her special guest, master linguist Dr. Robin Barr, discuss this and other ideas to help learners avoid these situations.

Teacher’s Clinic

Moving vowels

April 30, 2020 / 37:56 mins

Have you tried having your students put their hands on either side of their neck? Why? Feel the vowel. You can feel the flex of the neck muscle when saying moving vowels, like GREEN TEA, GRAY DAY, ROSE BOAT, and others.

Watch this Blue Canoe Clinic to see Karen and her special guest, master linguist Dr. Robin Barr, discuss this and other ideas to help learners say moving vowels.

Teacher’s Clinic

Pronouncing the 3 most common auxiliary words

April 23, 2020 / 28:46 mins

“Woulda, coulda, shoulda” Modals are challenging to teach. Yet, they are some of our most frequently used words.

Watch this Blue Canoe clinic to see Karen and her special guest, Dr. Robin Barr, discuss the modals would, should, could and how to teach them.
Teacher’s Clinic

The secrets to allophones

April 16, 2020 / 41 minutes

In this video Karen explains allophones and how to teach them:

  • use a sheet of paper to demonstrate aspirated vs. unaspirated allophones
  • guide learners through vowels with CV yoga
  • feel your throat to help to feel voiced vs. unvoiced allophones
Teacher’s Clinic

How to introduce Color Vowel to new students

April 9, 2020 / 33 minutes

There are a lot of ways to introduce Color Vowel. You’ll learn:

  • How to share the Chart
  • Options for setting the stage
  • Tactical tools for teaching the Chart
Color Vowel Clinic

How to mark-up words

April 2, 2020 / 36:37 mins

​​When a student comes to you with a question, sometimes the best approach is to answer that question and wait to hear whether they probe deeper.

Watch Karen Taylor share her ideas for answering a question when someone asks you about a single word. Try backbuilding and resyllabification.
Color Vowel Clinic

What does Color Vowel instruction look like in the classroom?

Mar 5, 2020 / 23 minutes

Learn from a classroom video taught by Laura McIndoo, a Color Vowel® master teacher how to:

  • use a rubber band to extract the stressed words in a sentence
  • create a chant with students
Color Vowel Clinic

The power of thought groups

Jan 30, 2020 / 25 minutes

In this video:

  1. We listen in thought groups.
  2. Thoughts group can vary in length.
  3. They’re a powerful strategy for being understood.
Color Vowel Clinic

Ending a Color Vowel Class in an energetic way

Jan 16, 2020 / 22 minutes

In this video:

  1. Why using Color Vowel® brainstorming works
  2. Using a fun activity with students, like Colorgories


Blue Canoe Lab Sessions

On the third Thursday of every month we host a Blue Canoe class for users of the app and those who want to learn using the Color Vowel Approach. Teachers join these sessions to watch how Karen teaches learners, and to jump in with their own tips.

Color Vowel Lab

Color Vowel Crosswords!

July 16, 2020 / 29:20 mins

Learning should be fun, and we had a lot of fun in Thursday’s Blue Canoe class. Master linguist Laura McIndoo walked the group through how to play Colorgories – brainstorming words in a Color Vowel to perform flooding. Then, Laura shared a website she uses to make Color Vowel crosswords. What? So much fun. Click on them from the Blue Canoe Facebook page to play yourself.

Watch this Blue Canoe class with Karen and her special guest Laura McIndoo showing you games you can use to help with English pronunciation.

Color Vowel Lab

Secondary Stress and Unstressed Syllables

June 18, 2020 / 41:29 mins

Where do you put the stress in long words (many syllables)? 🙂

Watch this Blue Canoe class with Karen and her special guests Laura McIndoo and Dr. Robin Barr discussing and practicing words that have secondary stress and unstressed syllables.

Color Vowel Lab


May 21, 2020 / 31:11 mins

AUBURN, ORANGE, and OLIVE are sound very similar. There is a reason they are in the same corner of the Color Vowel® Chart.

Color Vowel Lab

Using the “WHAT COLOR IS YOUR NAME?” Activity

Mar 19, 2020 / 26:49 mins

Karen demonstrates one of the core activities you can use could help students who are new to Color Vowel: “WHAT COLOR IS YOUR NAME?”

Knowing the difference between how to pronounce a name in a native language and in English can help students to locate stress and learn Color Vowel in a really personal way. It includes a video of Karen creating a teaching moment and the learner excelling with the concept.

Color Vowel Lab

Using Chants to Practice Stress

Feb 27, 2020 / 28:34 mins

In this session, Karen talked about the importance of pronunciation in a conversation, especially over the phone. You will lose the connection in your conversation when you don’t pronounce the word correctly, which will make an entire phrase become more like a single word.

Watch how chanting can help you practice identifying the stressed.

Color Vowel Clinic

How to Use Color It Out in the Classroom

Feb 13, 2020 / 21:21 mins

Color It Out creator Laura Mclndoo joined to share the many ways you can play Color It Out in the classroom. Students can improve their pronunciation by working in groups and having fun in a shared experience. 

BONUS: Great question from one attendee about turquoise being a PURPLE SHIRT word – not TURQUOISE TOY.

Color Vowel Clinic

How to Use Sort It Out in the Classroom

Feb 6, 2020 / 21:59 mins

Looking for a great way to end class on a high note? Sort It Out is easy with just a whiteboard and sticky notes, or a blank Powerpoint page. Students sort words by Color Vowel, then use flooding to correct themselves.

BONUS: Karen answers how to teach the difficult R-controlled sound.

Color Vowel Lab

What to do when you can’t use your open hand

Jan 23, 2020 / 29:20 mins

In this video:

  1. Learn how the open-hand technique gives us the perfect amount of time to place on a stressed syllable or word.
  2. Practice other kinesthetic ways to indicate stress in a more subtle way.