German pronunciation: minimal pairs

Last updated: 15/11/2023
German pronunciation: minimal pairs
Main Subject
Key stage
Includes answers
Resource type
Student activity
Pronunciation and phonics

These German pronunciation activities make a great lesson starter or filler for the key stage 3 or key stage 4 MFL classroom. They give German language learners practice in recognising and pronouncing German words that are different by just one sound, including vowel sounds and consonant sounds.

The words featured in this resource include German letter combinations that are challenging for English speakers, such as the diphthongs [ei] and [ie], and the consonant sounds [z] and [st]. They also include German vowels with and without umlauts, such as Vater and Väter, and words containing other symbols from the German alphabet that don’t exist in English, such as the eszett.

In the first activity, students identify which word they hear. In the second task, they try to work out some of the pronunciation rules by sorting cards into categories, helping them to realise that although the letters and letter combinations may represent different sounds from in English, German is actually more phonetic. Finally, they have the opportunity to produce the German sounds themselves in a pairwork activity and to create memorable sentences using the words.

The PowerPoint version of the resource contains the German words spoken by a native German speaker.

You might also like German pronunciation bingo.

An extract from the answers to the sorting task:

‘z’:      sehe, sehr, Riese, Reise, Saal

‘ts’:     Zahl, zu, Zoo

‘s’:      Kiste, Küste, reißen

‘sh’:    Stern, Stirn, frisch, Kirsche

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