Piff Paff!!! Helping Learners ‘Snap” English Homophones

Posted: September 9, 2012 in Tribute to ELT Classics
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This activity is a card game I have called PIFF PAFF and it focuses on homophones. The game is based on the tested and true SNAP, but with a few small differences.

As a warmer, pre-teach or revise the vocabulary on the PIFF PAFF CARDS (Figure 1) by getting the learners to separate them into VERBS, NOUNS, PRONOUNS and so on.

Figure 1

Then, organise the learners into groups of 3 to 4 and give them a set of cards. Tell the learners to shuffle them and distribute them evenly among themselves.

The Game:

Demonstrate to the learners what to do. Show the class that they should hold the cards in one hand facing downwards. One learner takes a card from the bottom of his or her hand of cards and places it on the desk, pronouncing the word on the card.

A second learner then takes a card from his or her hand of cards and places it on the desk on top of the card on the desk, pronouncing the word on it as well.

Tell the class that, if a learner places a card on the desk which has the same pronunciation as the one already on the desk, any one in the group can hit the cards and say PIFF PAFF. In this case, the first learner to hit the cards and say PIFF PAFFgets to collect all the cards on the desk to add to his or her hand of cards. Learners then play another round.Point out to the learners that among the cards there are some joker cards, which allow the learners to snap the cards at any time and say PIFF PAFF. But there is a catch!!! The learner can only collect the cards from the desk if he or she can produce a homophone to the previous card.

The game continues until all the learners get rid of their cards and the winner is then the learner  who has the most cards  in his or her hand.

As a follow-up activity, get the learners to write sentences to illustrate the meaning of the homophones e.g. you slam on this to stop the car when a cat suddenly runs in front of your car.

Learners then test each other by reading their sentences to others who should try and spell the word which goes with the description. For example:

L1 says: You slam on this to stop the car when a cat suddenly runs in front of your car.
L2: Brake.
L1: Spell ‘brake’, please.
L2: B-R-A-K-E.

Alternatively, learners could write sentences with gaps and swap them with a partner, who then tries to complete them with the appropriate words. For example:

I went on a __________ in the Mediterranean Sea.     crews / cruise
I slammed on the __________ to avoid hitting a deer on the road.       brake / break
It’s not polite to _______ at people like that.    stair / stare

Have fun.

Arizio sweeting

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