Danger! Homophone lessons.
It's true homophones can cause confusion but lessons on homophones can introduce confusion where there was none. By pointing out to learners that 'there', 'their' and perhaps 'they're' have (about) the same sound but different spelling, we may be drawing attention to a difficulty in spelling that they have never had - and it could even spark off that confusion. It could plant a seed of doubt that stops them automatically writing 'there' (in, for example, "There are four people in my family"). They may find they have to stop and think about it now, and may come to the wrong decision.
Sure, if learners are already confused, we can acknowledge that different words sometimes have the same sound. But lists of homophones, or gap fill exercises where learners have to choose between two homophones, are not going to help them.
So what's the alternative?
Focus on other words that LOOK the same rather than SOUND the same. And show how words that look the same are often related:
So show that:
- here, where, there are all related to place and all contain h-e-r-e.
- hear, ear, heard are all related to perceiving sound and all contain e-a-r.
- two, twice, twin, twelve, twenty, between are all related to 2 and all contain t-w.
- one, once, only, none, alone, lonely are all related to 1 and all contain o-n.
This is much more learnable than looking at these confusing homophones: