lesson ideas

General ideas for teaching pronunciation

(This is a follow-up to my post on phonology-based activities. I’m sharing it now because some of our teachers are about to begin training for the Trinity DipTESOL. Phonology/pronunciation features quite a bit on that course, so I want to offer our teachers an ideas bank to help them explore this area in class)

Here are a load of random pronunciation activities to try out in class. These activities have pretty worked well for me with students aged 9-16. This is a work in progress! I’ll add more to this list when I get more time or try new things.

Note: there are not many activities here that focus on connected speech. That’s because most of my CS activities come from Marks and Bowen (2013) and I don’t want to do them a disservice by plagiarising their whole book! Buy it – it’s great!

If you find something useful then please share your own ideas in the comments! Sharing is caring 🙂

Use GIFs / images / actions

Use whatever you can to associate sounds with a particular object or action. If it’s /æ/ mime a cat, /ɪ/ then mime kicking a football. Keep it active. GIFs are pretty memorable too.

Mime games

The best thing about assigning actions to phonemes is miming games! Say, for example, you’ve taught certain sounds like /d/ (act like a dog), /b/ (throw a ball), /æ/ (act like a cat). You can play a ‘backs to the board game’ where each word includes only sounds that have been taught (bad, dad, etc). The students describing the words can’t say anything, they can only mime the action for the corresponding sounds. Great fun!

Fly swat games

You’ve introduced a set of phonemes. Display them on the board. Organise the class into teams, give each with a fly swat. They line up at the board. Say a word which includes one of the sounds (best to prepare a list of words beforehand). The first team to swat the correct sound wins a point.


Add more challenge. With the above sounds you can say either ‘vowel’ or ‘consonant’ before you say the word.


Teacher says: ‘vowel, butter’. Students must swat /ʌ/

Teacher says: ‘consonant, butter’. Students must swat either /b/ or /t/, or both in order if you’re feeling particularly cruel. Some of my students go mad for this! (more…)


18 more ways to introduce your lesson topic

This term I’ve tried out a few different ways to introduce a lesson. These ones have worked well. They might be worth reading if you’ve exhausted my previous list!

  1. Song lyric gap fill

Example: 3rd conditional, regrets

Do a short gap fill on part of a song related to your topic. Mine was on some lines from Frank Sinatra’s My Way:

Regrets, I’ve had a few… (1.19 – 1.30)


Lesson idea: Star Wars crawl creator

I got so excited about this that I had to post it up! I found this site today where you can create your own version of the Star Wars intro! It looks like this, and you can find it here…


It’s really simple to do – just create your own story, type it in and click done…


My students are still loving Star Wars at the moment so this got tonnes of laughs. It’s perfect for creative writing. Enjoy!

Vocabulary review – fortune tellers


my current chapter of Incredible English

Did you ever make one of those origami fortune tellers when you were a kid? They were pretty cool. Anyway, I’ve just planned a lesson on shapes with my young learners (from Incredible English), and thought the classic fortune tellers would come in handy for a bit of a vocabulary review.

I bet plenty of teachers have used these before as a fun review tool – Svetlana at Elt-cation is one for crafts so it might have come up on her blog already. Here’s a picture of my model fortune tellers for class this week:


I first thought the students could make these for their original purpose, so I put colours on the front and numbers in the middle. Then I realised they’d be good for reviewing vocabulary, so I started putting that on instead. Under the flaps I added questions or challenges based on our topics this term, which were animals, food, jobs, etc. Examples were things like ‘name 5 mammals’, ‘name 4 jobs beginning with C’, and ‘how do you spell hedgehog?’ All the questions will be created by the students, meaning they need to flick through their class books and notes to revise the topics.

If you don’t have a clue what these fortune tellers are, just look on Wikipedia. Here are the photo instructions from Wiki on how to make them if you’ve forgotten!

fortune teller

from Wikipedia

Lesson tip: Wheel Decide

Wheel Decide allows you to create instant decision/scoring wheels in class. You can change the categories to anything you want, meaning the wheel could choose who goes next, the next topic of discussion, who does a grammar forfeit, anything you want! I plan on using it to decide who makes the coffee in the staffroom…

Click on the image below to visit wheeldecide.com. Scroll down on the homepage to create your own wheel (Wheel Builder). The instructions are easy to follow.


I first came across this site after looking on yaseminislah.com. It’s a great blog, I recommend that too!

Post-match interviews – a lesson using Premier Skills English

This is for all the football fans! Here’s a lesson I revised last year using resources from the brilliant Premier Skills English.

You may have seen a previous post I did on using sports commentaries in class. It focused on using the instantaneous present simple, which is popular among commentators. When I listen to managers being interviewed I often hear past incidents described using a mixture between present simple, past simple AND present perfect! Even the continuous is used… it’s so confusing!

 ‘He committed himself to the tackle, Cazorla sees that and dinks it over him and he’s ended up getting a card’.

‘He’s come on and played really well. He got the goal he deserved’.

‘When he played Zamora in you’re thinking ‘this is it’, but he’s hit the post and, well, we drop two points’. (more…)

Lesson idea: the youngest person ever…

We recently looked at an article in English in Mind about a child genius. She was the youngest black female ever to get a place at an American university. I created a few activities based on information in the text which went down ok, but it was the follow-up task that was really successful.

youngest ever

Before class I prepared 16 slips of paper, each with a ‘claim to fame’ written on it. Each started with ‘you were the youngest person ever…’, for example:

  • You were the youngest person ever to grow a beard longer than 2 metres, aged 15
  • You were the youngest person ever to sing with One Direction, aged 10
  • You were the youngest person ever to complete a solo skydive, when you were 5!
  • Etc.

My classes are normally organised into four different groups of four students.

I gave each student one slip of paper, and allowed a few minutes for them to make some notes, think of their story and the facts around it, etc. Then students had 10 minutes to mingle and listen to each other tell their crazy stories. They always started off by asking their partner:

‘So what’s your claim to fame?’ / ‘so what’s special about you’?

Students had to remember as much information as possible about each of their classmates’ stories. They returned to their groups and told the people on their table who had the most interesting story. I did a brief class feedback but didn’t want students to share too much information.

Then came the fun part! (more…)