Teaching phonics to English learners is a fundamental skill that needs to be developed, and it should be part of all learning strategies. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be boring.


If you are an EFL teacher who needs or wants to teach phonics to young learners, then here are 5 phonics activities that you can use.

#1 Showdown

Divide the students into teams of two that face away from each other. Each student is given a group of flashcards with the target language, i.e. each flashcard has a different phoneme. The flashcards must be held face out. The students count to three, turn to face each other, and need to identify the phoneme. The first student to identify the flashcard gets a point.

#2 Phonics Snakes & Ladders

For this phonics activity for young learners, prepare a Snakes and Ladders board (you can decide how many blocks you want depending on the time you want your students to spend on the activity). In each block, the target language is written, or you can let you students practice alien words (also known as nonsense words) with different sounds, like i_e/o_e/u_e or wh/ph.  Students play as one would play Snakes and Ladders, but when they land on a block, they have to pronounce the word/sound. (You can download a free printable Snakes and Ladders board here.)

#3 Phonics Spinners

These are worksheets in which you have 3-5 phonemes in something like a pie chart at the top of the page. Corresponding to the phonemes are pictures; for example, the one phoneme is ch, so there could be a picture of a cheese, a chair, etc. The students could use a paperclip or a modified fidget spinner, spin it on the pie chart, and they have to colour the picture that matches the phoneme they landed on. To make this phonics activity for more advanced students more challenging, rather than using pictures, have the students write 3-4 words with the phoneme they land on.

#4 Match Up

You can use plastic eggs for this one or cards or anything else that can be put together as a pair. For the egg option, with a permanent marker write simple sight words, with the first part of the word on the one side, and the part starting with the vowel on the other (for example, for car, c- on the one and -ar on the other, or for stick, st- on one and -ick on the other). The students can then play, putting halves together and saying out loud the word.

#5 Phonics Tic Tac Toe

For this Tic Tac Toe version, the students play as normal, but the grid is filled with the target phonemes, and where the student wants to put their X or 0, they have to say the phoneme out loud. This can be made more difficult by students having to say a word that, for example, starts with ch- or ends with –ss or has an -ou sound.

These are 5 easy activities that you can use to teach or review phonics in your EFL classroom. Which activities are your go-to ones when teaching phonics to kids?

Like what you just read? There are more great tips and activity ideas over at our Teaching Tips.

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