Classroom Activities: Practicing Spelling Aloud
Many ESL/EFL students, sometimes even at higher levels, have problems spelling things aloud in English. A few fun activities to practice this:
Crack the code
Rewards Starter has an excellent activity like this. There is a “key” with a number associated with every letter, A=14, B=12, E=40, etc. Find this one and use it or just make your own key. Also write out a list of several names of famous people…but using only the numbers; don’t write any letters. So, for example, Abe Lincoln would start out “14, 12, 40”.
Student A holds the key, B has a paper with the names written out in numbers. If possible, seat students a couple of feet away from their partner to make it a bit more difficult. B reads out the first number, and A responds with the correct letter, which B writes down. Somewhere into the name, they should be able to guess, but that’s okay. This can also be good for practicing those hard-to-differentiate number sounds “thirteen” and “thirty”.
In some combination of teams, one student stands at the board and another reads out a word for him/her to write out. Ideally, more than one student will be going at once, with different words, so they have to pay attention. Conversely, write several words randomly on the board and have two competing students stand facing the board with pens.
You call out a word, they have to try to be the first to circle it, then they both turn around. The one who circled it first has to spell it correctly. If s/he doesn’t the other competitor gets a try.
One of the English File Resource books has a half-page activity with initials and a clue, for example, MM = a world-famous rodent. One alternative is to make up your own clues (“whiting out” the clues in English File would probably be a copywright violation or something, so the TEFL Logue definitely isn’t about that) but without showing the students the initials. Give them a couple of minutes in pairs to guess, then read out just the initials in order to help. Or, you can just start spelling one of the full names, and when they realize which clue it is, they call out the number of the corresponding clue.