Phonetics Game: Phonetics Tennis

As some of you may know, I’m a bit of a phonetics freak. I love teaching my students phonetics and at least trying to improve their pronunciation, even though sometimes it’s just not possible. If you are new to and are interested in teaching phonetics, then I’d suggest reading the following pages and blogs.

Phonetic tennis

Easy to set up, easy to play… Photo by Lippi

ESL Songs with Phonetics

Best ESL Pronunciation websites

Top ESL Resources for Phonetics

9 reasons to use phonetics in class

How to teach phonetics to your students

For all my phonetics games students must already know the sounds and symbols.

Phonetic Tennis

Level: all

Prep time: 5 seconds – just think of one word with a phonetic sound…

When you can do it? Warmer, finisher.

What to do:

  • Put the class into two teams, preferable even levels, and into two lines. They can sit or stand. Not rackets are required.
  • Elicit the basic rules of tennis. Mainly how you score, you don’t need to go into how to serve, volley or come to the net.
  • Say you are going to play phonetics tennis.
  • Do an example. Start yourself.
  • Choose a phonetics sound (by pointing to your phonetics chart in class) and then say a word with that sound. The first student on the left hand side should then say another word with that sound. If they get it correct, then ‘the ball’ passes over to the opposite student. If they get one correct then it passes to the second student opposite, etc, until someone either a) says a word which doesn’t have the sound in, b) takes longer than 10/15 seconds to answer.
  • When one students gets it wrong, or takes too long, the other team get 15 points (like in tennis).
  • Then you choose another sound and they continue.
  • Keep going until one team has won a game, best of three, or even a set (if you can get away with it).

Reasons to play phonetics tennis.

  • It’s fun.
  • Great for recap and revision.
  • Good to see if they have really understood the sounds and symbols.
  • Gives you a bit of a break from being centre of attention and adds some fun to your classes.

That’s it. Simple. Stay tuned for more phonetics games coming up next month.


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