It may sometimes be useful to focus on certain problem sounds with your students. Whether you use the phonemic symbols or not in your teaching, you can adapt these games, using either phonemic script or a loose oral transcription. The ideas suggested are not only useful fillers, they also help to raise the profile of pronunciation in the classroom. These are not original ideas, but ones I have picked up over the years and sometimes adapted.
Phonemic spelling. Use a pointer to ‘sound out’ a word on the phonemic chart, with students watching. Simply tap out a word for them to identify, using sounds that your group typically find difficult, eg if they find /ð/ tricky, then sound out words like although /ɔːlˈðəʊ/. You can make this into a team game: the first team to call out the correct word gets a point. For stronger students, increase the game-like element by adding in the element of speed when ‘sounding out’.
Phoneme ladder. Draw two or three large ladders on the board, with 6–9 rungs each. There should be one ladder for each team. Name a phoneme, again one which your learners find problematic, eg /eɪ/. Ensure the students are standing in their team lines, at right angles to the board. The first person for each team should hold the board pen. They write in a word with that sound, on the top rung, eg pay. The first person passes the board pen to the next team member, who writes a different word on the second rung, which includes the same sound eg say, grey, aged. Team members can help each other. The first team to finish the ladder correctly is the winner.
See next week for two more ideas.