Learners can often confuse words which sound the same but are spelled differently.  

Many words in English sound the same (e.g. ‘see’ and ‘sea’) but are spelled differently and have different meanings. Telling learners about these words helps them to notice sound and spelling patterns.  

Stage 1: Listen 

Let learners listen to pairs, or groups, of words like these: 

  • meet, meat  
  • flour, flower  
  • ate, eight  
  • sun, son  
  • write, right  
  • board, bored  
  • knew, new  
  • sea, see 
  • pear, pair 
  • here, hear 
  • wait, weight 
  • some, sum 
  • for, four 
  • caught, court 
  • I, eye 
  • our, hour 
  • wear, where 
  • to, two, too 
  • buy, by, bye  
  • their, there, they’re. 

Stage 2: Introduce 

Write ‘be’ and ‘bee’ on the board. Elicit the pronunciation and that they sound the same, but the spelling and the meaning are different. Tell learners there are a lot of words like this in English, and they are called homophones.  

Ask learners to work in pairs. Say: ‘I’m going to say a word. You write two different spellings, like “be” and “bee”. Ready?’ 

Stage 3: Hear and spell 

Dictate ten pairs of words that learners should know. For example:  

  • meet, meat  
  • flour, flower  
  • ate, eight  
  • sun, son  
  • to, two, (too)  
  • write, right  
  • board, bored  
  • knew, new  
  • buy, by, (bye)  
  • sea, see.  

Give them time to think after each word.  

Elicit answers and write them on the board (or ask learners to write them on the board).  

Use concept checking questions to check understanding of any difficult words. For example, for flour, flower, point and ask: ‘Which one can I eat?’ 

Ask learners if they know any other pairs of words like these. Write them on the board. 

Stage 4: Practise 

In pairs, learners write five sentences. Each sentence has a pair of words, e.g. ‘hear’ and ‘here’: Come here so that I can hear you. The sentences must be meaningful. Monitor, support and correct. 

On a piece of paper, pairs rewrite their five sentences with gaps. They write their five pairs of words under the five sentences in the wrong order. For example: 

  1. Come ____ so that I can ____ you.  
  2. We ____ our dinner at _______.  
  • eight / ate 
  • hear / here 

They swap papers with another pair and fill the gaps with the correct words. They swap again to check each other’s answers.


Concept checking questions: A question which shows the teacher what learners have understood (e.g. about a grammar or language point). 

Elicit: How a teacher gets information from learners, e.g. asking questions, prompting. 

Homophones: A word that has the same sound as another word but a different meaning and spelling. 

Monitor: The way a teacher watches to see how well an individual, group or class is doing a particular task.