Author: British Council | Published on 1 May 2023


You don’t just have to use drill activities to practise pronunciation, you can use mingle activities, too, for example to help learners with confusing sounds.

In order to communicate effectively, learners need to hear and then produce confusing sounds correctly. This activity practises this in a fun and interactive way.


Listen to the pronunciation of these minimal pairs:

[play audio]

Consonant sounds: Vowel sounds:

tree        three

they       day

thin        tin

wash     was

shell      sell

heart     hard

card      cart

vet        wet

sheep     ship

wet         wait

fast         first

saw        so

bed        bad

bat         but

hot         heart

hair        her


You need one small piece of paper for each learner in your class, e.g. 32 learners = 32 pieces.

Write two words from one minimal pair on four pieces of paper. You will have  papers. Example:

tree tree three three

Repeat with other minimal pairs. Each learner needs one word paper. (32 learners = two copies of eight minimal pairs.)

Fold the word papers and put them in a bag or a box.


Say: ‘Let’s play Find your partner. In my bag I have many words. Take a word. Read it. Don’t show it to anyone. When I say, walk around the class and say your word. Listen and find the classmate who is saying the same word. When you find your partner, give your papers to me.’

Take the bag around the room or ask learners to stand in line. Each learner takes a word.


Tell learners to mingle and find their partner. When pairs return their word papers, check they are the same and put them in the bag.

Repeat 2 or 3 times.

At the end, ask learners to sit with their new partner for the next activity.

Tip: If you don’t have space in your classroom, mingle outside.  

You could re-use this activity during any lesson to re-group learners.


Confusing sounds: Sounds which are commonly mistaken (e.g. ship and sheep, tree and three).

Consonant: A non-vowel sound. Consonants are pronounced by stopping the air from flowing easily through the mouth (e.g. b, g, k, t, v).

Fold: To bend paper, for example, so that one part is on top of another.

Minimal pairs: Pairs of words that only have one sound different (e.g. bat and bet, cow and how).

Mingle: A type of task in which students move about the room and speak to other students at random.


Vowel: A sound made when breath comes from the mouth without being blocked by teeth, tongue or lips. 

Vowel sounds In English are listed below

/ɪ/ as in ship                   /ɑː/ as in bath

/e/as in egg                    /aɪ/ as in find

/æ/ as in apple               /eɪ/ as in Spain

/ʌ/ as in cup                    /ɔɪ/ as in boy

/ɒ/ as in stop                  /aʊ/ as in cow

/ʊ/ as in book                 /əʊ/ as in phone

/iː/ as in tree                   /ɪə/ as in deer

/ɔː/ as in sport                /ɛː/ as in chair

/uː/ as in root                  /ɜː/ as in bird

                                /ə/ as in the