Pronunciation game (Minimal pairs)

Pronunciation game focusing on listening and speaking skills differentiating 'r' & 'l', 'v' & 'f', and 's' & 'th' sounds.

This is based on content from, but I have developed a primer and worksheet to help convey the game.

  1. Get the students to practice saying the words on the powerpoint ("repeat after me").
  2. As you practice the words, focus on different sounds. I usually draw a side profile of my mouth on the blackboard to show where my lips, teeth and tongue are placed when I stress the sound. (see the 'pronunciation guide' picture, try to look past my poor drawing skills).
  3. Run through an example of the game: on the slide with the full pyramid, drag your finger along a path saying each word as you pass through e.x Grammar, fend, thick, rock.
  4. Now, without pointing at the screen, pick a random letter in your mind and begin the game. Ask students to listen carefully and let them hear the sequence multiple times on the first couple of rounds. As the game continues you can raise your tempo.
  5. To show the answer, drag your finger along the path and say the words in sequence.
  6. Once you've finished 5 rounds it's time for students to practice, have them get into pairs and assign a reader and a listener. Have them play the game with each other.
  7. Walk around and listen out for mispronounced words, if you hear any try your best to correct them.

The high school students I teach (relatively low performing) are not used to enunciating words except through katakana, but they really enjoyed the competitive part of this game.

-Really try to get into differentiating the sounds, give examples of hissing like snakes for 's', growling like a lion for 'r' etc etc.
-If you have an energetic and unruly class it might take until round 2 or 3 for their competitive edge to kick in so try to keep them moving with you.
-Pay attention to what sounds students are having trouble hearing. Often its the 'r' and 'l' in rock and lock, sometimes its the 's' and 'th'. Revisit sounds as you go, give more funny examples, whatever works.

I'm not a huge fan of the words used in this pyramid, I would recommend replacing glamour and grammar with cram and clam if you have time. With my accent the 'our' and 'ar' sounds end up being pretty distinct.

Small files
  • Word challenge.docx (556 KB)
  • pronunciations guide.png (25.5 KB)
  • Medium files (requires an account to download) -
  • Word Challenge.pptx (4.4 MB)
  • 5
    Submitted by JoeySB November 17, 2023 Estimated time: 30-40 minutes

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