Need a 20-minute ESL conversation activity that builds fluency, accuracy and vocabulary development? Try this pair work speaking game called Homographs. It’s an inquiry-based activity. Students explore word meanings through conversation.
Copy worksheets for students: A and B. Each worksheet has a different set of 8 words.
Introduce the concept of homographs, a word that has two or more meanings. Even though the spelling is the same, the pronunciation can be different.
Here are some examples:
- ball: a round toy for games / a big dance
- might: maybe / power
- object: a thing / disagree
I like to run this as a jigsaw activity.
Step 1. Dictionary Work
First, get students in pairs. Give each pair of students one worksheet each. Make sure they each get the same worksheet (A or B). About half the class should get the A worksheet and the other half gets B.
Give the class 5-10 minutes to review the words on their list and check unknown words in their dictionaries, if necessary.
Step 2. Write Down Meanings
Students look at the words and write a note to describe the meaning under the heading “My Definition.” They do that for 8 words.
Step 3. Jigsaw
Students find a new partner. Someone who has the other worksheet. In the end, everybody should be paired up with A-B worksheets.
Student A reads his/her first word and describes one meaning.
Student B listens, writes down the word and meaning in the blank spots on the worksheet. Then he/she gives a different meaning for the same word.
If correct, student A writes down that definition on his/her paper under the category name “Partner’s Definition.”
If neither A nor B can think of the second meaning, they both check their dictionaries and write a short definition on their worksheets.
The process is repeated until all words have been defined.
Encourage students to produce example sentences for each word meaning.