ESL games for developing students' pronunciation with fun

Best pronunciation games for your English classes

Best pronunciation games for your English classes

29.09.2023

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  • Pronunciation
  • Cambridge English
  • Teaching qualifications
  • Activities
  • Tips & Strategies

How much time in your lesson do you spend practicing pronunciation with your students? The older the students, the less, because there are things more important, such as complex grammar or new vocabulary. 

During his workshop, Adrian Underhill once said:

Pronunciation is the Cinderella of teaching.

It is difficult to disagree because it's hardly possible to find a teacher who would dedicate an entire lesson to pronunciation. 

If we help students improve their pronunciation, they will be able to communicate better in English both in class and outside of school, because very often misunderstandings occur due to incorrect pronunciation.

Today, we offer you a selection of games for young learners, teenagers and adults that will add more variety and more practice of English pronunciation to your classes.

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Young Learners

It’s a perfect group of learners because children aged 6-12 are very motivated and not afraid to experiment.

They also like repeating new sounds, copying pronunciation, and they will not miss a chance to get up and move in class.

  • English songs are a perfect tool for practicing pronunciation with young learners. They can sing and dance to phonics songs. With the help of such a total physical response, children remember even complex words, sentences and intonation much better. At first glance, singing songs is a very simple exercise, but it is extremely effective.

Here are some great compilations of songs with phonics:

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvRKcch4DyE
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzBoqtayewI 
     
  • Pronunciation Bingo is also a very effective game for memorizing the correct pronunciation of individual sounds or words. To play it, prepare Bingo cards with separate words for each phoneme you want to repeat. You can make them in a text editor or use Bingo Card Generator. Its settings will help you create cards that are right for your students. Then the order is as follows: the teacher shows the students a card with a phoneme, for example, / e /, and pronounces this sound. Students should find the word containing this sound and cross it out. The game can be played as a whole class, in pairs or groups. You will need several sets of cards. 

Drill the materials effectively!

If this version of the game is a bit difficult, students can just name the sound, and their partners have to find the word in their Bingo cards.

And in this video, there is another interesting variation of this game. Check it out!

  • Rhyming – these are activities that focus on teaching children to distinguish phonemes. Therefore, activities should focus on how the words sound. Cards with images and printed words are suitable for such tasks. 

You can play the Rhyming Bingo or Rhyming Memory depending on the needs of your students. These are the simplest games and easy to adapt.

Rhyming Race. Stick a picture or a word on each child's back. On your command, the students should find a partner who has a word on his back that rhymes with the word on the other student's back. The winner is the one who is the first to find his partner.

Hopscotch. Probably everyone remembers this game from childhood. Draw classics with chalk or make from masking tape. Place a picture or word inside each cell. Then the teacher says the word, and the student has to jump to the word that rhymes with it.

Teenagers

Adolescents can often be embarrassed and rather restrained.

But they can also enjoy games and interesting handouts. In addition to the traditional Rhyming Memory Game, there are other interesting activities.

Correct the teacher

Teachers make mistakes too, and some students are really proud to notice and correct our mistakes. 

So give them such an opportunity. Your task is to read aloud a sentence with or without errors, and students must say whether it is right or wrong, and correct your mistakes. It’s going to be fun!

Minimal Pairs

This task can be given at the end of the lesson or even as homework. 

Make sets of minimal pairs and write each word on a separate card / sheet of paper. Divide the class into two teams and have each team line up in front of the board. 

The first students in the team keep their hands behind their backs. Show students two cards, for example, 14 and 40. Say aloud one of the words: fourteen. Students hit the right card. The one who hits first must use the word in the sentence to get a score for the team.

Know what to drill at higher levels!

Syllables Snap

Distribute a set of cards to each student. They take turns turning over the cards on which the words are written. If two words have the same number of syllables, the first person to say “Snap” and / or tap the cards wins all the cards that have been dealt at that time.

The winner is the one who has the most cards at the end of the game. The game also works with vowels in one syllable words and the stress in words.

Pronunciation Maze

This game allows students, both adolescents and adults, to solve a logical problem to complete a pronunciation task.

In the diagonal grid, write a line of words with a common sound, such as the same vowel sound, between the upper left corner and the lower right corner. In all the other cells, write words that people think have the same sound, but they don't. 

Students must get from the starting point to the end of the correct route. After they finish, together with the students, use drilling to say the words on the right route, and then all the surrounding words with different sounds.

Adults

Pronunciation games for adults are a great way to liven things up and help them navigate through certain sounds and common pronunciation errors.

It is always useful to use authentic materials and language from the field of knowledge or study of your students to create the appropriate context. 

For example, if you teach lessons to students in the hospitality industry, teach them to pronounce flavors, products on their menu, or explain today's special with the correct stress, etc. It's all a great learning context.

Same or different

This task will add much more speaking practice to your classes.

Distribute worksheets with the words you want them to compare to students. Highlight the words in different colors on sheets A and B. 

First, students read only the word to decide whether the pronunciation is the same or not, and then they read their different sentences to see if the context gives them any clues. 

When students have finished with all the words, they should pronounce these words to each other and then look at each other's worksheets.

Need any ideas for your speaking lessons?

Sound chain

Students form a circle or choose the order of answers for an online lesson.

 The teacher gives the sound, and each student has to come up with the word containing it. The next student repeats the previous words in the correct order before adding their own, or, as an option, ask your class to make up a story with words they came up with while playing with a sound chain, in groups or together.

Tongue twisters

There are a lot of tongue twisters for all levels and ages that you can use in your classes.

Practicing to say them can create a very lively and fun atmosphere, as everyone tries to do everything possible, but eventually focuses on their own pronunciation and speed. This kind of task is well suited for both team building and for students who are comfortable learning one on one. 

Here are 25 popular tongue twisters for your class:

  1.  Unique New York
  2.  Three free throws
  3.  Red leather, yellow leather
  4.  Rubber baby buggy bumpers
  5.  Red blood, blue blood
  6.  She sells seashells on the seashore
  7.  A proper copper coffee pot
  8.  Betty bought butter, but the butter was bitter
  9.  Comical economists
  10.  Swiss wristwatches
  11.  Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
  12.  She should shun the shining sun
  13.  The big black back brake broke badly
  14.  The big beautiful blue baloon burst
  15.  A shapeless sash sags slowly
  16.  Smelly shoes and socks shock sisters
  17.  Shave a single shingle thin
  18.  Cinnamon Aluminum Linoleum
  19.  New York is unanimously universally unique
  20.  Cooks cook cupcakes quickly
  21.  Flora's freshly fried fish
  22.  A bragging baker baked black bread
  23.  Buy blue blueberry biscuits before bedtime
  24.  She sold six shabby sheared sheep on ship
  25.  These thousand tricky tongue twisters trip thrillingly off the tongue

Conclusion

As we can see, there are a lot of options on how you can spice up your pronunciation lessons. We always need to remember that whatever the age of our students is, we always need to have pronunciation activities in our agenda and have many ways to implement such activities in our lessons.

Songs can't be used for working on students' pronunciation.

Article authors & editors
  • Veronika Syrotkina

    Veronika Syrotkina

    Author

    CELTA certified teacher of General English

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