ESL Phonetics: Phonetics Bingo!

Nothing like 12 kids shouting bingo to get you through your dull Monday afternoon, especially when they do it with phonetics. I love playing bingo in class because the kids enjoy it, it’s pure luck so the quiet, non chatty students can win, and they all get to practise a bit of phonetics at the same time.


Phonetics Bingo. Photo by Jagoba

To do this, your students will need to know the phonetic sounds and symbols, if you’re not sure how to teach them still then check out this blog.

There are a couple of variation of phonetic bingo. Here’s how to set them up and play it.

Just the symbols and sounds

Draw a grid on the board, either 3 by 3 or 4 by 4, and get the students to copy it. That should take half the lesson. They should catch on quickly that you’re about to play bingo, even though there will be a couple who will never have even heard of this wonderful meccatastic game.

I normally do the game practising phonetics in sections. For example, I’d just do the vowels, or consonants, or just the monothongs. Tell the students which sounds you’re going to focus on and get them to fill in their grid with the symbols they want. I normally do an example on the board with my grid.

Go round and check they have understood, making sure the symbols are eligible and they are not all copying.

Then you basically make the sound and students cross out the appropriate symbol. The easy version is where you say the sound, and then write the symbol on the board so they can check. If you don’t write it on the board, at least make sure they are on track. Keep going until students get a line and full house and shout BINGO!

With words as well

A trickier way is to say actual words with the sounds in. This is a lot more difficult and depending on the level you really need to write the words, and sometimes the symbols on the board too, otherwise it turns into a bit of a mess. You also have to prepare a list of words with each of the sounds you are testing, but that’s not too tricky.

You can play this as many times as they can handle, either at the start, in the middle, or at the end of class.

A great follow up would be to get students to do it in mini groups of threes or fours, but you have to monitor the students saying the sounds. They should at least prepare the list of sounds, or words, that they are going to say. By doing this students are practising on their own and becoming more autonomous, always great to encourage in class.

So, that’s my phonetics bingo. Pretty simple, no prep needed, and it’s a fun activity that students love, once they’ve got the hang of the symbols anyway. Have a look below for some other phonetics games I’ve done blogs about recently. Hope you enjoy it.

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