Speedy Sounds

Timothy Bunting, Tohoku University of Community Service and Science

Quick guide

  • Keywords: Game, pronunciation, phonics, minimal pairs
  • Learner English level: Beginner to intermediate
  • Learner maturity: Any
  • Preparation time: 1 minute
  • Activity time: 10-15 minutes
  • Materials: Whiteboard and pen, around 10 words with target pronunciation prepared in advance

Are your students struggling with phonemic awareness? Do they need more sound and spelling association practice? Try out this easy and fun game designed to work on these exact points!


Think of 10 or so words that contain the target sounds such as bit, bat, bet, bot, but, beat, Burt, boot, boat, bought or other words you wish to practice. Non-existent words also work just as well. 


Step 1: Write the 10 words right at the top of the board or in a place everyone can see. 

Step 2: Practice the sounds with the class, numbering each word from one to 10 as you go along. Write the phonetic symbol underneath if necessary. Get students to check each other’s pronunciation. 

Step 3: Split the class into two equal number teams. Assign or have the students choose a name for their teams. 

Step 4: One at a time, students from each team come up to the whiteboard and each grab a pen. Have these two students face the whiteboard. 

Step 5: So that everyone apart from the two at the front can see, make a number from one to 10 with your fingers. Show this number to everyone sitting down. 

Step 6: Students call out the corresponding word for that number. It’s a race for the two students at the front to write down the target word.  

Step 7: Tally up the scores to find the winning team. Don’t forget to practice the words again at the end! 


This activity is great as either a warm-up or as a fun way to end a lesson on pronunciation that students respond well to.  Giving the students greater reason to actually produce words gives them greater motivation to do so and helps raise their phonemic awareness in the process.