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Below are tips for pronunciation activities you can do with your students, including links to printable resources and games and links to related web sites. Enjoy!

Poetry One interesting way to practice the rythmn or English, as well as such features as linking is to use poetry. One of the poetry web sites that we like is Academy of American Poets, which has a large collection of different poems, many with audio recordings made by the poet.

Walt Whitman's poetry has also worked well with my students. Try the Poetry of Walt Whitman web site.

A neat poetry web site which even includes audio is actually the page for English 88: Modern and Contemporary Poetry at University of Pennsylvania. Check out the Gertrude Stein and Wi lliam Carlos Williams.

Holly is a big fan of Haiku. It is a good way to have your students practice the concept of syllable. Holly not only has students read Haiku, but also write them.

Limericks can also be really fun and helpful. Their predictable stress pattern makes them useful for practicing sentence stress. You can find some (clean) limericks on the web at There once was a man from Nantucket. We've read some in class (clapping out the rhythm helps students pronounce the stressed and unstressed syllables), and for homework, they are working on creating their own limericks.

Drama Drama is also something Sharon used often with my students to practice rythmn, intonation, linking, etc. It's often a good idea to have students work in pairs and focus on a particular aspect of pronunciation, su ch as intonation. Have them decide on the correct intonation, then record the scene, and finally listen and discuss their recording. The Dramatic Exchange Catalog of Plays is one good web sites to find scenes to use with your students.

Bingo One of our favorite activities for a change of pace is PRONUNCIATION BINGO!!! To play pronunciation bingo, first you need to think up a bunch of words that sound simiilar (bath, bass, Beth, Bess, bus, but, bat, path, pat, bit, pit, etc, etc). Now, make up a stack of cards with all your words and bunch of bingo boards (Sharon has a set of six, and she usually can use them with groups of 20-- it usually doesn't matter if some students the same board. Because it is rather challenging to distinguish between similar sounds, we normally don't have more than one winner). For the really adventerous teacher, you can have the bingo winner read out the words for the next game. Here are word stress bingo and final consonant bingo boards for you to download and print out.

Contrastive Stress Practice. Here is another fun activity. Have students write 10 FALSE sentences. They could be about anything, as only as they are not true. Next have students read the statements to their pa rtner. The partner must correct each of the incorrect statements.

For example: "Christmas is in July." "No, Christmas is in December ."
My students really like this game, especially when the false sentences are outrageous!

Pronunciation Partners. Put students in groups of 4-5.  Deal 6 cards to each students and put the rest face-down on the table.  Students take turns asking for a card they need to complete their set. 

Get cards and detailed instructions from our printable resource page.

Humming. Put students in pairs.  Give student A a list of questions or statements.  Give student B a list of replies.  Student A should hum the intonation patterns of his utterances.  Student B should reply with the correct response.  We like to make sure that all of the sentences have the same number of syllables so that Student B really has to listen to the intonation to get the sentence.  Example utterances:

Student A

Student B

I like pizza, pickles, and chips.
(list intonation)

Not all together, I hope.

Would you prefer coffee or tea?
(choice intonation)

Tea, please.

Would you like some ice cream and cake?
(double-rising intonation)

No, thank you. I'm not hungry.

Next week we are flying to Rome.
(falling intonation)

Really? How long will you be there?

Is he going to the dentist?
(rising intonation)

Yes. He has a toothache.

Pronuciation Scavenger Hunts.

These are so fun and successful that they deserve a section of their own.

  • Ask students to find as many objects as they can with a specific vowel or consonant sound.  If the weather is nice, send them outside.  Bring in books or magazines with lots of pictures to stimulate their minds.

Example: Find things in the classroom that have an /r/ sound.  

  • room
  • clock
  • blackboard
  • eraser
  • Have students compete to build syllable pyramids.  The teacher gives a topic (clothing, objects in the classroom, animals, food, etc.) and students race to build a pyramid. (One syllable word at the top, the a 2-syllable word, 3-syllable word, etc.)  Download the worksheet.

Note: This idea is adapted from a presentation Holly saw at TESOL.  If anyone knows the origin of this activity, we'd love to give credit.

Word Stress
  • Put students in groups and send them outside for a specified period of time. Tell them to find as many things in nature with 1,2,3,4 or more syllables or with certain word stress patterns as they can. (Example: tree, squirrel, waterfall, etc.)
  • Have students find examples of items that can be combined to form a new compound noun. (i.e. snow + ball = snowball)


For more pronunciation activities, check out Pronunciation with an Eye on Multiple Intelligences.

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last updated 2/10/10