Time for another post on classics of ELT.

This pronunciation activity is based on the famous game of NOUGHTS and CROSSES or, as they call it in the USA, TIC TAC TOE.

The aim of the activity is to focus learners on the pronunciation of the individual sounds of –ough words.

 For this activity, you will need:

  • the NOUGHTS and CROSSES CHART (Figure 1)
  • a set of PHONEMC CARDS (Figure 2), cut up and stuck together before class
  • and a class set of learner’s dictionary  or a dictionary app. on a smart phone.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Start the activity by dictating the words on the chart to the learners. In feedback, get the learners to write the words up on the board, check spelling and drill the words until learners are confident about their pronunciation.

Make sure you focus the learners on meaning of the words too.

After that, organise the learners into teams of 4 to 6 and give them the chart and the cards.

Tell the groups to divide themselves into two teams: the noughts O and the crosses X. Each team also assigns a letter A, B, C, D etc. to each player in them.

The teams place the phonemic cards face-up in sequence from 1 to 16  on the desk next to the chart.

The teams now decide who starts the game.

The Game:

To start the game, one player chooses a box in the chart and pronounces the word in it.

For example, let’s imagine the first player chooses box 1 and says ‘dough’.  This player then picks up the phonemic card with the corresponding number (in this case, card 1), turns it over and checks if his or her pronunciation was correct e.g. /dəʊ/.

If the case, the player writes the symbol of his or her team (i.e. either O or X)  in the box and has another turn. If the player’s pronunciation is wrong, however, his or her turn passes on to a player from the opposing team.

The game continues until someone manages to trace a vertical or horizontal line across the chart.

TIP: it might be an idea to avoid diagonal lines, as these would bring the activity to a sudden death. 

As a follow-up activity, get the learners to study the pronunciation of the words on the phonemic cards from 1 to 16 again.

Using learner’s dictionaries, they write gapped-sentences for each of the –ough words e.g. To make bread, knead the __________ and leave it to rise (dough).

After that, regroup the learners and tell them that their task is to read their sentences to test if they can complete them with the correct –ough words, using the appropriate pronunciation.

I hope you like this activity. Looking forward to your comments.

Arizio Sweeting