Author: British Council | Published on 1 December 2022


There are many different vowel sounds in English and these sounds often have different spellings. 

You can help learners notice these using rhyming words. Here is a fun and interactive game you could use at any stage in the lesson. 


Listen to the pronunciation of these rhyming words:

[play audio] 

free, three, tree, knee, see, me, she, be, he, key, pea, tea, we

thought, taught, caught, fought, nought, bought, brought, short

heart, cart, part, tart, start, art, chart, dart

cake, make, lake, rake, bake, take, wake, break, brake, shake

train, rain, pain, vain, stain, cane, lane, main

play, pray, say, may, day, ray, lay, they

I, eye, my, why, lie, shy, guy, tie, dry, fly, hi, high, by, buy, die, pie

zoo, do, two, shoe, coup, glue, flew, too, you, new, knew 

feet, beat, seat, meet, meat, eat, heat, neat, wheat, treat

white, light, right, write, sight, might, night, bright, flight, tight

pair, hair, fair, tear, pear, share, care, dare

for, poor, four, more, bore, tore, core, door, law, saw, pour, sore, wore

Notice how rhyming words can be spelt differently. Make lists of other rhyming words that your learners know. 


Say: ‘Let’s play sound tennis!’ 

Invite two volunteers to the front of the class. 

Say a word, e.g. pair. 

The two learners take turns saying words that rhyme with pair, e.g. learner one says hair; learner two says share. Etc. 

When a learner can’t think of a word, the game ends. The other learner is the winner. 

Play the game

Say: ‘Now you play. Work in pairs. I’ll say a word. Ready?’ Write a word on the board and say it. Monitor and support.

Take feedback: find out which pair said the most words. Elicit the rhyming words and spelling and write the words on the board. 

Give learners a new word. Repeat the game two or three times. 


Use the words on the board to draw attention to the different spelling of sounds. 

You can also play ‘Sound tennis’ in the same way, with words that share the same vowel sound or start with the same sound. Or ‘Word tennis’, learners take turns to say vocabulary related to jobs, the classroom, the park etc. or ‘Grammar’ tennis with parts of speech, past simple verbs, prepositions, etc.


Elicit: How a teacher gets information from learners e.g. asking questions, prompting.

Vowel: A sound made when breath comes from the mouth without being blocked by teeth, tongue or lips (in English = a, e, i, o, u).