Homophones dictation

Homophones can be one of the reasons students spell or hear something incorrectly. By raising learners' awareness of these types of words in an open and fun manner, teachers can help learners understand why they have difficulty with a particular listening activity or even with spelling a word wrongly.

Shaun Dowling

This materials-light activity needs little preparation and allows students to notice these problems.


  • Choose from 8 to 10 homophones to dictate.
  • Tell your students you are going to say about 10 words and for them to write them down.
  • Ask students to stay silent while you dictate and not to check with a partner.
  • Dictate each word clearly and allow students time to write
  • Here are the 10 I usually choose with their homophone in brackets
    band (banned) I´ll (aisle, isle)
    knot (not) right (write)
    there (their, they're) sun (son)
    past (passed) cell (sell)
    flu (flew) made (maid)
  • In pairs, have students check what they have written down. As students check, write the words (not in brackets) up on the board.
  • After the pairs have finished they may see a difference in their lists. Ask the whole group if they have written down the same as the list on the board. Note that many students may feel they have written down the wrong words if their own words are different from the list on the board.
  • Now as you write the second similar sounding word (these are the homophones in brackets), ask students if their list was similar to these other words. Some discussion may take place here as students laugh and smile about what they have written, so ask students if they can ask you what is the difference between the two words. They should say the spelling and also the meaning.
  • Now elicit from students the similarities of the words. If they disagree that the sounds are not the same then it is a good idea to drill the words for students to hear and ask them if the homophones sound different.
  • Now elicit again what differences there are between the words. You can write these differences and similarities on the board for clarity.
  • Now introduce the word 'homophone' and see if students know of any other English homophones.
Language Level

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