Phonemic chart review game: Connect 3 (or 4)

As part of the Sheffield University 10 week pre-sessional programme, I have been teaching a Social English class 3 afternoons a week at 1h30 a pop. Last week on Thursday, I introduced them to the phonemic chart, using Adrian Underhill’s method. Today (Monday) I wanted a fun way to review the sounds with my learners, and so Connect 3 (or 4), using the phonemic chart, came about…


None! (Excellent…)


  • A phonemic chart projected onto a whiteboard (failing that, an A3 print-out would work equally well)
  • a board pen (more than one would be even better – see my comments at the end of the post)


  • Put learners into 2 teams (or 3 if you have a big class) of 4-6 players.
  • Each team has a symbol. With my learners today, Bing were suns and Bong were stars. (They are always Bing and Bong: borrowed from an ex-colleague of mine at IHPA, these names refer to the buzzer sounds that you get on TV game shows and that the team in question must make before answering in any games where speed to answer is of the essence…)
  • Explain the aim and rules to the learners. The aim of the game is to get 3 squares in a row to score £100 or 4 squares in a row to score £150. (Could also be points, but as we had just done a vocabulary auction, we stuck with the money theme!). In order to win a square, learners must make the sound that corresponds with that square correctly and give an example word with that sound in it. (Number and letter off the squares so that learners can choose a square by calling out e.g. E5. As there are more columns in the bottom half of the chart than the top, there is a special extra column H here. See picture below.)
  • If learners make the correct sound AND give a correct example word, they get to have their symbol drawn in the square and the square becomes theirs. The turn passes to the next team. If learners make a correct sound but incorrect word, the turn passes to the next team, ditto if they make the sound incorrectly. In this case, the square is still open to be won either by the next team, or, when the turn returns to the team who were incorrect, they can try again (or choose a different square if they prefer!).
  • Each time a team of learners get 3 or 4 in a row, write £100 or £150 in their score board column.
  • Towards the end, you will probably end up with a handful of squares that will not help learners gain a 3 or a 4. Sell these off at £50 a pop, with teams taking it in turns to make the sound and give an example word in order to win this money. The same rules re correctness mentioned previously still apply.
  • When everything is finished, add up the money and see who is the winner! You could also add up the number of suns and stars (or whatever other symbols) to see who totalled the greatest number of squares.
The phonemic chart at the end of the game!

The phonemic chart at the end of the game!

Showing also our scoreboard (one set of numbers goes back to the vocabulary auction...)

Showing also our scoreboard (one set of numbers goes back to the vocabulary auction…)

My comments:

  • My learners enjoyed this and it was good to see how much they remembered from last Thursday. Making pronunciation physical does make it much more memorable. (They remembered things like ‘the idiot sound’, ‘like having an orange in your mouth’, for example, trying the sounds out in their groups before giving their final answer.) Understanding way the chart is organised helps too – it helped them remember some of the sounds between the ones they were more sure of.
  • If I did it again, I’d remember all my board markers so that I wasn’t stuck with only black pen. Each team could have a different colour, and any squares that were done incorrectly could be marked in a different colour to flag them up more clearly for some further post-game review.
  • To up the challenge for academic English classes, stipulate that the example word given should be an academic word (and bonus if one of the ones you have studied recently!). To up the challenge in a General English setting, stipulate that it be a word related to a particular set of topics or course book units, depending how your programme works.

Enjoy! 🙂


11 thoughts on “Phonemic chart review game: Connect 3 (or 4)

  1. hi Lizzie
    neat game thanks

    i think a game from Mark Hancock’s hexagon chart would be a nice addition (

    thought (very briefly) about this sometime ago and your post prompted me to note some possible rules, maybe we can hash out a game in the comments?

    –possible rules—
    so say points would increase the bigger the distance between nominated hexagons. e.g. 1 point for 1 hexagon distance, 2 points for 2 hex distance, 3 for 3 hex distance and max of 4 points for max hex distance of 4. this would reflect that the closer hexagons are the more ‘similar’ the sounds so ‘easier’ to sound out than further apart hexagons.

    u would need a min of 3 hexagons to complete a turn but could add bonus points by trying to complete the longest chain ( and conversely lose points if you don’t complete a chain longer than 3 hexagons)

    what do you think?


    • Hiya, had a quick look at the link, but if I am completely honest, I’m not following your game…confused haha! Very keen for new ideas though of course…

      • yeah i think it is confusing in my mind, think of it as a bastared of blockbusters ( if u know that quiz show but without the questions)

        if you read Mark’s description of the chart it may be clearea (or not)

        the ideas is to get a chain of at least 3 hexagons; you could do more but lose risking points if you don’t suceed

      • Haha! 🙂 Ok, so you mean using Mark’s hexagon? Or making hexagons on the same chart like I used, i.e. Adrian’s chart? I really like Adrian’s chart though. Also, having introduced them to Adrian’s chart, I wonder if it wouldn’t be confusing to then introduce another different version. I vaguely know blockbusters – you have to get from one side of the board to the other or something?

      • yes using Mark’s chart; it could be an additional way to reinforce what students picked up from Underhill chart;

        Underhill’s chart is based on similar sounds being close to each other so not very different conceptually from Mark’s chart.

        the hexagon game would only cover vowels, Mark has a grid chart for the consonants (

        or you could tweak your game by giving more points to further away sounds as i described for the hexagon game

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