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American English Minimal Pair Pronunciation Game

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Warning: there are two pairs of words that have profanities. Simply delete those slides if you need to be wary of profanity in the classroom. Also, the video on the first slide is completely optional

I typically use this in a lesson on pronunciation, particularly for Spanish speakers (though it can be adapted and work well with proper knowledge of the learner's L1 phonology). The purpose of this particular game is to help learners distinguish vowels not present in their L1 (e.g /ɪ/ vs /i/, aka "short 'i' vs long 'i'"; /ʌ/ vs /a/, or " 'uh' vs ah' "). Included is a list of minimal pairs using such vowels.
I have used this activity with great response from learners of all levels, but be mindful that it can be a bit trickier to explain these pronunciation differences to a younger learner. Always be adaptable to your learner's abilities and needs!

*Can be adapted for any class size—even individual lessons (simply print the pages out instead of using the powerpoint).

Split the class into two groups. Have them form a line, rotating the person at the front to the back after each turn. Keep score, if you'd like.

Give each learner at the front of their respective line a fly swatter (or any object that won't damage a projector screen/white board. even hands work. the fly swatter is just a novelty).

As the instructor, stand at the back of the classroom and clearly say one of either word. The first person to slap the correct word gets the point. Rotate learners until the word list is finished.

Note: this is not an original idea. I learned this activity through working with Bonnie Blakey of SBCC—all credit is due to her. I simply created my own list of words and powerpoint.

Language goals
Other pedagogical goals
The above lesson is a great teaching resource for:Intermediate (B1), Upper-intermediate (B2)
Student type
Elementary schoolers
High schoolers
Business/professional students
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This resource does not contain any images, words or ideas that would upset a reasonable person in any culture.
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This resource is licensed by erv1192 under the iSLCollective Copyright License.
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Erv1192 is from/lives in United States and has been a member of iSLCollective since 2018-03-12. Erv1192 last logged in on 2018-05-21, and has shared 1 resources on iSLCollective so far.
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