Lesson Plan

It's Not What You Say It's How You Say It - Heteronyms

Students will learn about heteronyms - what they are, how to pronounce some of them, and write sentences with them.
Aaron S.
Classroom teacher
Wuhan Foreign Languages School
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My Grades 11
My Subjects English Language Learning
EdTech Mentor

Students will be able to...

1) remember the definition of heteronyms and be able to explain it to others.

2) pronounce several heteronyms correctly.

3) write sentences with heteronyms correctly.

4) create short videos with heteronyms used correctly.

English Language Learning
Grades 9 – 12
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Introducing It's Not What You Said It's How You Said It

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This is another lesson in the unit about voice modulation, but this lesson isn't really about how your voice sounds - it's more about pronunciation.  This lesson is about heteronyms, which are words that have the same spelling as another word but with a different pronunciation and meaning.  So although it isn't about voice modulation it is about how you say it.

This lesson could be introduced the same as the other lessons, but another way to introduce it would be to simply write an example sentence on the board and ask students to read it.  They can work in pairs first and practice with each other and then share with the whole class.  Examples: The garden was used to produce produce. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests. They were too close to the door to close it.

2 What are heteronyms?

Activity: Investigating

After students correctly read the sentences, and assess that each student does, have the students search to try and find the term to describe these words. Eventually they should discover it's "heteronyms".

Students can practice with a few more examples:

How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

The soldier decided to desert his post in the desert.

Santa is ready to present the present.

I did not object to the object.

When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

3 Student Practice

Students can use the website to find more heteronyms.  They can create their own sentences with a partner and then share their sentences with a different group of partners. 

After making their own sentences, students will start a new activity called "Chain Story."  Students will begin a story and write for about 2-3 minutes. After that they will switch papers, and continue the story for another 2-3 minutes. After that time they'll switch again, with a different student, and continue the story again.  Each time they continue the story they should include a heteronym.  They should try to use one that hasn't already been used in the story. These stories could be written on paper or an app could be used like pages. Documents could can be shared with Airdrop. 

4 Student Activity: SayWhat

If there is time, students can create a SayWhat video example for various heteronyms.  These examples could be uploaded to SayWhat or simply shared within the class to create a list of examples of heteronyms. These videos could be used later to review.

Another use of the videos, especially if they are being created for each of the topics in this unit, is to create a video portfolio for this unit.  When the unit is completed students would have a great portfolio for describing different voice modulations and explaining how important it is to understand how you say something as well as what you say. 

Also, an interesting twist may be to try to make the chain story with videos.  Although I haven't tried it, clips or splice may be an app that could help with it.  Video clips are easily arranged and edited with these apps, so it may be possible to quickly use the app to continue the story, although students will need to be proficient with the app so that it doesn't take too long for each part. 

5 Wrap-Up

Activity: Assessing

To finish, students can self-reflect about how heteronyms can help them understand and communicate with English better.  This is similar to the wrap-up for sentence stress, tone, and intonation, but if the option to create a portfolio or dictionary of each student's work is used these reflection questions would make a great addition to it. Here are a few questions to guide their thinking:

What makes identifying heteronyms  difficult?

What can I do to improve my understanding?

What did I learn today that can help me in the future?

What did I struggle with today or what do I need more practice with?

What advice would I give to someone learning this topic?

Students can reflect and share anyway they are comfortable with audio recording, writing, selfie-video, etc.