Dictate to the students pairs of words (e.g. hold/embrace, high/tall) and ask them to classify the pairs as Same, Opposite or Different. Once you have finished dictating the pairs of words, the students should compare their choices with their partner and explain their reasons, especially the pairs classified as different (why are they different?) or same (are they always synonyms? Are there slight differences in meaning and connotation? Are there differences in collocation). If you wanted, students could use dictionaries to check ideas.
After the students have discussed the words, elicit the pairs to the board and deal with spelling, pronunciation and meaning.
This activity can be done to introduce vocabulary that will be found in a text, listening activity or song lyrics, but also for reviews. So, you find words in the text, and think of partners for them for the S.O.D. dictation.
The activity is demanding but it is an excellent way to explore vocabulary and shades of meaning.
I love the pure simplicity of this idea. It's a great way for students to use L2 associations to remember new words. Could it be developed to get students to classify in other ways "Kitchen, bathroom or garage," "green, white or blue?" Students could use their dictionaries to check new lexical items (English-English preferably, but in most my classes E-Japanese), it could be done in just a few minutes, it could be done pre-task or post-task and it could be a repeated item, teaching the students the meaning of same and opposite, if nothing else!
I disagree that it's an activity for advanced students. It might be a useful step for my virtual beginners to move from their tried and tested and over trusted, very basic vocabulary. Let's move out of the shallow end! Can't wait to give it a try.
high school teacher, Japan