Some useful links for us teachers to consider:
- The Heteronym Homepage provides a list of words with identical spelling but different meanings when pronounced differently. The list shows pronunciation and definitions.
- The Heteronym Page provides a more substantial list, but perhaps what is more of interest are the twenty sentences that contextualize the more common heteronyms. Example: “The garden was used to produce produce.” (Retrieved from The Heteronym Page.)
- Home of the Heteronym is a site with greater visual appeal and a little more creativity than the others. I think one jewel here is the small collection of “heterocryptics” – riddles, in which the question and answer contextualize a pair of heteronyms. Only the question is visible at first. The user can click to either read the answer or hear the answer.
What to do with heteronyms?
- Use them to teach word stress, especially in the case of noun-verb pairs such as SUBject and subJECT. Read through an existing list of pairs or heteronymic sentences.
- Have students compose their own heteronymic sentences. You can assign pairs of words to students, copy their sentences on the board, and read the sentences as a class. Alternatively, you could challenge students to produce as many sentences as they can over the course of a week. Collect and post their sentences for other classes to read as well.
- Upper level students might rise to the challenge of composing a short story. To begin, you might use an existing story, such as “The Case of the Lady Who Wasn’t a Heteronymical Tale” (available on Home of the Heteronym). Omit the word pairs and make it a gapped text. Once they complete the text and understand the format, they can create their own one-paragraph narrative. Have them make it a fill-in-the-blank activity by omitting heteronyms and listing them to one side for another classmate to choose from.