Playing Ball with Another ELT Classic to Give Learners Practice of Vowel Sounds

Posted: September 2, 2012 in Tribute to ELT Classics

In this second post, I would like to describe a  pronunciation activity based on the ELT classic BINGO, which I have adapted to a game of soccer.

The aim of the activity is to give lower-level learners practice of vowel sounds using vocabulary about animals.

The first step is to pre-teach the animals on the SOCCER CRITTER BOARD (Figure 1).

Drill each word, focusing on the short and long vowel sounds and diphthongs until the learners become confident  about recognising and producing these sounds.

Highlight to the learners the double dots next to certain sounds and explain that these are used for indicating vowel lengthening e.g. /ɑ:/ as in CAR. If possible, use a rubberband to do this when drilling these sounds.

Figure 1

As I needed to have one animal for each vowel sound or diphthong, I used words from American, British and Australian English. For example, in picture 5, I used the word gecko, an Australian lizard, to focus the learners on the sound /e/.

I also used the word OPOSSUM from US English rather than POSSUM from UK and AUS English to focus the learners on the schwa /ə/.

For the animal in picture 15, I used the UK  pronunciation  of JAGUAR /ˈdʒægjʊ.əʳ/ rather than the US /ˈdʒæ.gju:a:/, as it contained the diphthong /ʊə/.  Besides, I couldn’t think of an animal with this sound at the time. So if you have a critter to suggest… please!!!

The second step is to get the learners to work in pairs and test each other using the board. For example, one learner says the sound e.g. /ɑ:/ to another learner, who then tries to find the animal for this sound on the board i.e.  shark. If the learner is correct, he or she gets another turn. If not, he or she misses a turn.

After that, organise the learners into small groups of 3 or 4. Give each group a CRITTER CARD (Figure 2) and tell them to  name each of the animals on the cards. Make sure that the groups do not show their cards to other groups. Explain that the cards are all different from one another, like bingo cards.

Figure 2

Next, give the groups  a SOCCER BALL (Figure 3) and a strip of cardboard for them to prepare a prop for their group.

Figure 3

The Game:

Explain the rules of the game to the class.

Tell them that they are going to play a game of soccer in which goals are scored by correctly recognising vowel sounds and diphthongs and matching these to the animals on the critter cards. Emphasise that the game works in the same way as a BINGO game.

Tell the class that you are going to say vowel sounds at random. If they have an animal on their cards with the sound, they are to raise their props and shout ‘Freeze’. The  learner who says ‘Freeze’ first gets the chance to name the animal. If his or her answer is correct, the group scores a goal and crosses this animal out on their card. If not, they lose the goal.

NOTE: it is important that you repeat the same vowel sounds several times during the game, as some animals appear on more than one card.

When a group manages to cross out all the animals on their critter card, they must shout ‘BINGO’ to win the game.

Well, that’s all for today. Keep visiting this space for more pronunciation activities on tradional ELT activities.

Arizio Sweeting


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