Fun pronunciation games for learners of English

Paraphrasing the famous song, ‘It’s raining sounds, hallelujah.’ This post introduces a few interactive games that can aid in teaching the sounds of language. I’ve designed these games for both in-class and out-of-class practice and thought I should provide some tips on how to use them effectively to support the language learning and ‘overlearning’ process.

My main goal was to provide learners with multi-modal input, reducing their reliance on the teacher for both input and practice, fostering greater learner autonomy, and facilitating repeated exposure. In other words, to help learners:

  • Learn on their own; and
  • Practise more.

Learning minimal pairs doesn’t happen through a single exercise. Learners need to hear the words, see the words, write them down, use them in speech, and repeat this process periodically.

Destinations is our most recent game for practising minimal pairs. Here’s a short video explaining its mechanics.

The custom game mode makes it an ideal choice for classroom play, as part of an in-class flip. 

You can customise the list of minimal pairs to address your learners’ pronunciation challenges. Start by discussing the selected words from the minimal pairs, their meanings, and pronunciation nuances with your learners. Then, for the first round, you can provide the code and dictate your sentences (or use text-to-speech apps), or you can use YouGlish. There, you can also find a helpful ‘nearby words’ list that you can utilise to create your own word lists.

As part of preparation for the game, have your learners make up sentences with the words that are relevant to their personal interests and context. Let them engage in multiple rounds, taking turns to create their custom games and form sentences. Gradually introduce more complexity, such as having learners write down or transcribe the words they hear.

As a follow-up to the game, try a few variations of delayed dictation to help your learners internalise and recall the words.

What makes the digital version superior to a paper-and-pen version? Aside from the obvious paper-saving aspect – no need to print handouts, the game provides opportunities for repeated exposure, allowing learners to practise and revisit language. It is is designed in a way that requires learners to write/type the list of words at least twice: first when planning a route, and then when accessing the game for one round. If they decide to play again, they will need to enter their words again. 

One thing that makes the game stand out among similar digital quizzes is the possibility to access the custom game from different devices, and play it simultaneously. This way, the teacher can engage with the entire class while students participate individually by making their own selections.

Note: When saved in HTML format, the game can be played offline.

The ‘th’ sound is often one of the most challenging for language learners. We’ve created the ‘TH’ Sound Board to assist learners in practising the soft th-sound by listening to words that start with this sound and forming sentences with them.

Click on the image to access the game.

A significant advantage of the game, compared to the classroom version where learners are asked to make sentences with words on the board (or as given in the textbook), is that learners can listen to the word an unlimited number of times by clicking on the button, which provides a model pronunciation and aids in developing their own pronunciation.

This digital maze is based on Mark Hancock’s original idea. The task is simple – learners need to complete the maze by choosing one-syllable words. Watch the following video to see the maze mechanics.

The digital adaptation enables learners to play on their own. Another advantage is that learners hear the words each time they take a step, which provides them with a model pronunciation. If they choose a wrong word, they need to start the game over and listen to the words again. In a classroom, it’s challenging to keep students engaged when repeating the process multiple times, but not with the digital game. 

Are you currently using digital games in your classroom? We’d love for you to give our games a try and share your feedback! If you have an exciting game idea, please reach out to us!

2 Comments

  1. I like the destinations game, but I wouldn’t use it with students as is since there’s a misspelling in the demo gam,e. THE 1st choice is between “peak” and “pick, but tje sample sentence requests you to “peek” out the window. Could you correct the spelling of “peek” or change the sentence to something about observing a mountain “peak” so that the spelling and word in the sentence match?

    “”

    • Many thanks for spotting that, Cathy! I was playing around with randomising listening tracks to add more variety and got a mismatch between the question slide and the input audio. All is corrected now. Thanks again!

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