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.


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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