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Understanding Homophones

January 25th, 2017 by Anna Michaelidou

Homophones can be very tricky when learning a language such as English and for younger children can often make spelling really confusing. Learning the different homophones takes time and patience but with some fun practice and repetition games, learning homophones doesn't have to be difficult.

flower

FLOWER

flour

FLOUR

What is a homophone?

A homophone is a word that sounds the same as another word but has a different meaning and usually these words are spelt differently; although sometimes they are spelled the same; bass (fish) /bass (instrument).

seen/scene plain/plane would/wood

Let's explore some homophones

The word rose can have different meanings but is spelt the same.

The beautiful rose was as yellow as the sun (a flower)

He rose from his bed very early (past tense of rise)

Here are some examples of some commonly confusing homophones that sound the same but have different meanings:

bear/bare

There was a bear outside the window of the lodge (an animal)

Her bare feet were frozen (naked)

write/right

I write with my left hand (verb to write)

His predictions were right (as in correct)

flour/flower

She measured the flour for the cake (grain usually made from wheat)

He gave her a lovely pink flower (part of the plant that bears seeds)

Try and think of a homophone for the following words:

1. knew ...............

2. hole ...............

3. grate ...............

4. there ...............

5. herd ...............

6. be ...............

7. sea ...............

8. two ...............

Learning homophones will help children develop their vocabulary skills and improve their spelling. Homophones are taught from primary school, usually around year 2 and they can be taught in a number of different ways, such as:

  • Filling in 'gap' worksheets where they will need to choose the correct homophone for different sentences.
  • Having access to lists of homophones that children can study and see each day.
  • Bringing home lists of homophones to learn.
  • Writing sentences containing pairs of homophones.
  • Homophone games such as memory match.

A great way of remembering homophones is to use pairs of homophones in the same sentence:

Tony ate eight truffles.

The maid made up Sammy's bed.

I ate two slices of cake too!

I can see the sea.

The wind blew the blue flag.

Getting children to practice these and make up their own sentences is great fun.

Here are some more great tips for helping children understand and learn homophones:

  • Encourage children to keep a notebook of homophones they come across
  • Take the time to talk about the different homophones until your child has a clear understanding
  • Challenge your child to come up with some fun riddles using different homophones
  • Practice matching homophones with their correct definitions
  • Practice matching homophones to their correct picture
  • Encourage regular practice and play some fun games that can be found in various books or online (learning games and BBC are great sites).

Creating your own flashcards together with your child with a homophone pair on each side of the card is a great way to help instil homophones learning. Homophones are an important part of learning the English language and understanding them will set the correct foundations for writing and spelling through school and into adulthood.

Categories: advice, learning