I love word pairs, because the activity gives good practice in at least four major areas:
pronunciation, listening, vocabulary (knowing the answer), and creating sentences (explaining
My classroom is usually set up in a long "U", with students seated on the outside of the "U",
facing one another. I give the word pair sheets only to one half of the class, because I want to work on speaking
and listening, and the temptation is too great to peek at the sheet when one can't understand what his classmate is saying.
The student asking the question must use the following formula: "Yoko, (Each student must be addressed
by name, so that everyone will learn his classmates' names.) What is the difference between house and home?"
If the words are not understood, classmates will sometimes pitch in to help, but no one is allowed to spell the words out
or act them out. Having a classmate be unable to understand you is a powerful incentive to careful pronunciation.
If the person asked doesn't know the answer, or, despite his best efforts, can't explain it, then I will ask, "Can anyone
help Yoko?" If one or two people are always the ones to offer help, I'll say, "Don't worry, Yoko. Renata will
Several pages of word pairs are available here. Just click on the headings below. Formulate
your own. It's easy, and you can tailor them to the needs of your class. Because my classes are pretty advanced,
these pairs are medium difficulty. You can make up some easier ones in no time.