The magic of minimal pairs!


Minimal pairs is a great way to test your student’s listening ability.  “Minimal pairs” means to two words which have different meanings but are different in one sound segment only.  The particular minimal pair difficulty depends on what native language the student speaks.  For example- Japanese students may have a hard time with “hat” v. “fat” because there is no “f” sound in Japanese.  A French student may have difficulty with “eel” v. “heel” because the French language lacks a “h” sound.

Minimal pairs are important because it can lead to impaired understanding and hamper conversation skills further down the road.  To best solve the problem it’s important to realize the difference between student’s L1 and L2 to learn the most common minimal pairs students have difficulty with.  Once you know which minimal pairs to attack, it’s time to use Colango!

Let’s take a look at how Jan uses minimal pairs to help his Korean students learn english –

There is no “F” or “V” sound in the Korean language.  Jan knows this and chose a minimal pairs video from Youtube focused on words with these sounds –


After reviewing these sounds with his students, Jan removes the helper video and creates another exercise with just sound and text.


Jan instructs his students to listen to the audio and then complete the dictation exercise.  Using Colango reports Jan can see how many errors each student has!  This tells him which student needs more help on these minimal pairs.

If you want to check out Jan’s minimum pairs posts click here – With Video and Without Video.  Here’s an excellent example for Korean minimum pairs.

All posts on Colango can be saved for future use with future classes or shared with other teachers!  Interested in using Colango in your class?  Contact me!


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