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Pronunciation Crazy Eights

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I teach in Japan, and Ifve noticed that students often have difficulty distinguishing between certain pairs of sounds, such as the short gih in gshiph and the long geh in gsheep.h Their confusion likely arises from the random connection between spelling and pronunciation in English. I created this game to help students recognize that a single phoneme can be spelt in many different ways.

Preparation: Choose two pairs of sounds you want to focus on (such as short gih versus long geh and short goh versus long). Choose 13 words for each sound, making sure that the sound is spelt differently in as many words as possible (for example, short gih can be found in trip, women, busy, been, English, mystery, etc.) Buy small index cards and write one word on each. Then circle the phoneme you want to focus on in each word.

Rules: This game is the same as the card game Crazy Eights (similar to gUnoh) except that instead of suits, cards have words with different phonemes circled.

The circled phoneme serves as the suit, meaning that you can only play a card whose circled sound is the same as that of the card on top of the pile. For example, you can play gpoliceh on top of greceive,h because both have long e sounds. But you cannot play gtriph on top of greceiveh because the circled sounds are different, a short gih versus a long ge.h The object of the game is to get rid of all your cards. Depending on how difficult you want to make it for the students, you can choose to have students lose a turn if they put down the wrong sound.

I also write numbers from 1 to 13 on each card as a means of changing sounds. For example, if someone plays number three gboat,h the next person can play a number three card and change the sound (to gbought,h for example.) Each number will have four cards corresponding to the four different sounds.

Sticker cards

I made the game more fun and challenging by putting stickers on several cards and assigning special meanings to them.

Stars mean you can change the sound being played and start with a new sound.

Hello Kitties mean the person next to you picks up two. If that person chooses to play another Hello Kitty, the next person has to pick up four, etc.

Shoes mean the next person looses a turn.

The mask means the next person picks up five!

Follow-up: Type up a list of the words written on the cards and give it to the students for future reference. Also consider introducing the relevant sounds symbols from the phonetic chart.

Example Sounds

Short gih

sympathy, English, been, busy, women, building, animal, trip, holiday, babysitter, exhibition, mystery, pretty

Long geh

recent, complete, coffee, teacher, movie, funny, money, ski, receive, people, magazine, neither, police

Short goh

bought, hobby, holiday, hospital, cause, fall, father, knowledge, copy, wrong, awful, always, fault


sew, oh, toe, boat, window, older, both, those, though, hold, wonft, wrote, dough

Ifve tried this game on everyone from children to young adults to housewives, and from beginners to advanced students, and everyone loves it. Have fun!


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