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7 Games for Pronunciation (and how to implement them)

By Altiné Moumouni
Use these seven pronunciation games to increase your classroom engagement and participation

In addition to tips for teaching pronunciation, TEFL teachers also need to incorporate activities, including games, to increase students participation. Whether you teach ESL students grammar, writing, or reading comprehension, keeping your class engaged and fun is essential. Use these seven games for pronunciation to increase your classroom engagement and participation. 

1 TED Talks game

Watching short TED talks is an excellent way to help your students’ pronunciation, mainly if you use it as a game. Here is how you can apply it in your class: 

  • Watch a short TED talk with your students
  • Go through the transcript of the talks with your students
  • Ask your students to read portions of the talk aloud
  • And ask your student to imitate the TED speaker’s pronunciation, pitch, and even pace

But keep in mind that this generally works with advanced students, so if you teach a class with mixed abilities, I recommend combining this game with another pronunciation game. 

2 Pronunciation Maze game

Word mazes are a kind of puzzle where your students must follow the proper sequence of words from the beginning to the end of the maze. In addition, using a pronunciation maze game has the advantage of allowing your students to apply their problem-solving skills to help complete a pronunciation task. 

Here is how you can implement a pronunciation maze game: 

  • In a grid, write a series of words with a common sound. For instance, the same vowel sound between the bottom right corner and the top left corner.
  • In all the other squares, write in all the words your students think have the same sound but don’t
  • Students then must go from the starting point to the end by the proper route
  • After they have completed, drill the words on the correct route
  • And then drill all the surrounding words with different sounds

It might also be best with more advanced groups, like watching TED talks, primarily because of the advanced vocabulary requirements. 

3 Tongue Twisters game

Tongue twisters game is excellent in helping your students with pronunciation, mainly if you are targeting a specific sound. You can get your students to compete to see who can say them better or faster. Depending on your students’ level, you can Karaoke to persuade your students. 

  • Choose popular songs at the time and in the region you are teaching
  • Encourage your students to sing 
  • Alternatively, ask your students to read and recite a poem or part of a well-known speech
  • The idea is to get your students to focus only on practicing their pronunciation

With this game, your students do not have to worry about grammar or vocabulary, and they can focus on the sound more.

4 Shadow Speaking game

Shadow speaking is among the easiest games to test and improve your students’ pronunciation, including pacing and intonation. You can use the same game discussed previously to implement shadow speaking in your class. The idea is to encourage your students to speak along with a short video or audio to see if they can mimic the speaker’s pace and intonation.

  • Begin by playing a short video or audio to your students 
  • Encourage your students to speak along with the recording
  • Depending on your students’ level, you can provide them with a transcript to read along with
  • Encourage your students to do their best to mimic the speaker exactly
  • In the middle of the game, stop the video or audio to see if your students can follow the speaker’s tone and pace

5 Bingo English game

Bingo is a simple and versatile game popular in many classrooms. It also is very beneficial for us as language educators. You can adapt this game to teach anything from vocabulary, grammar to spelling. Plus, nothing gets your students reading, listening, and talking in English like a fun game where the winners get to shout “Bingo!” at the top of their lungs. There are so many variations of bingo to help students improve their listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. Bingo with minimal pairs is one of the most popular bingo variations. 

6 Odd One Out game

With Odd One Out, you write down words in sets of 4 on the board, and either the vowel sounds or consonant sounds will be different. Odd One Out helps your students with their vocabulary and helps them improve their pronunciation. Here is a detailed article on implementing these games in your classroom. 

7 Pronunciation Basketball game

With pronunciation basketball, you give each student slips of paper with words on them:

  • If they pronounce the words correctly, they scrunch the paper up and get a chance to toss it into the “basket” for a point for their team
  • If not, they keep them and get another chance when the game comes back to them

This is one of my favorite pronunciation games because it pushes students to try hard and improve their pronunciation, so they can win the game for their team. 

Here is how you can implement it in your classroom:

  • Create two teams and have each group sit together
  • Ask all students to make a vocabulary list
  • Place the basket (or trash) in the front of the class
  • Let your students know that whoever accurately pronounces the correct vocabulary word will win
  • Have fun 

Pronunciation Basketball is one of the best pronunciation games for increasing motivation and improving pronunciation accuracy in classrooms.

Written by Altiné Moumouni for Tefl.NET February 2022
Altiné is from Toronto, Canada, and currently teaches mathematics at a high school in Guangzhou, China. He has a master's degree in International Economics and Finance from Ryerson University in Canada and is passionate about helping people worldwide through his blogs. He writes about TEFL Teaching and Health and Fitness. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, running, traveling, and anything that allows him to experience the beauty of nature. You can find him at altinify.com.
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