Sound matters: /v/ and /w/

This lesson focuses on the distinction between the consonant sounds (phonemes) /v/ and/w/.

Author: Adrian Tennant

This activity was first published on

Exercise 1

  • On the board write up the two sounds: /v/ and /w/.
  • Tell your students you will read out a word and they have to decide if the sound they hear is /v/ or /w/.
  • Tell students NOT to shout out the answer, but just to write it down in their notebooks.
  • Read out the following sentence: What did you say?
  • How many people think the sound was /v/? How many people think the sound was /w/? Ask for a show of hands.
  • Check the answer and, if necessary read the sentence again.
  • Tell the students you will now play eight sentences and they should decide if the sound they hear is /v/ or /w/.
  • Play the recording.
  • Put students in pairs and get them to check their answers together.
  • Play the recording again.
  • Check the answers as a class, if necessary displaying the sentences on the board and underlining the sounds.
  • Finally, play each sentence again and ask your students to repeat them. Pay particular attention to the pronunciation of the /v/ or /w/ sound.

Key: 1. w; 2. v; 3. w; 4. w; 5. v; 6. w; 7. v; 8. w

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Exercise 2

  • Ask students to read and listen to the words.
  • Play the recording, pausing after each word and getting your students to say each one.
  • Make sure they are saying the /v/ and /w/ sounds correctly.
  • Ask students to say each word again.
  • Ask them to concentrate on the shape of their mouth and the position of their top teeth.
  • To make the /v/ sound, the top teeth should touch the bottom lip and the mouth is quite narrow. To make the /w/ sound, the mouth should be rounded and the lips pursed. Note: One easy solution is to ask students to gently bite their bottom lip with their upper teeth when they are trying to make the /v/ sound, this should ensure that that the lips are not rounded.

Exercise 3

  • Ask students to read the tongue twister while you play the recording.
  • Play the recording again stopping after each line and ask students to repeat what they hear.
  • Ask students to say the tongue twister.
  • Play the recording again with the students saying it at the same time.
Audioscript: Victor always visits his wife’s family when he visits Venice.When Victor went to Venice last weekend he couldn’t find his way.It was very wet and Victor wasn’t happy.When he finally arrived, the one thing he wanted was a glass of wine and a warm shower

Sound Bingo

  • Prepare simple bingo cards like the one below. Try and make sure that there are some words that are similar apart from the /v/ and /w/ sound.
  • Make a list of the words you’ve written on the cards. Give each student, or pair, a bingo card.
  • Explain that you will read out the words. If students hear a word they have on their card they should cross it off.
  • When they cross all their words off they should shout Bingo!
  • Randomly read the words on your list.

Sample Bingo card:

Integrating pronunciation in your teaching

Integrating pronunciation in your teaching

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