Number one for English language teachers

Spelling: Sound race

Level: Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type: Extra

This exercise focuses students on the relationship between sound and spelling.


  • Divide the class into groups of four or five, preferably around a table or desk.
  • Ask each group to appoint a secretary. This person will be responsible for writing the words that come up in the activity on a sheet of paper.
  • Write a vowel or diphthong sound on the board, using the phonemic symbol. For example /i:/.
  • Then ask the students to find as many words as possible containing this sound within a given time limit or up to a certain number of words.
  • The team with the most correct words within the time limit or first to reach the target number is the winner.

Tip: You might find it useful to categorize the words on the board according to their spelling. The example given, /i:/, can be ‘ee’, ‘ea’, ‘ie’, ‘ei’ or ‘e’. Other sounds are even more productive.

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