Discussion Words – Spelling and Sounds Focus


1 set of word cards per small group; General Statements on English Spelling and Vowel Sounds
handout (p.112) for each small group


T prepares the target vocabulary words – one set for each small group. Each word should be on an individual small piece of card or paper. The vocabulary could be:

  • words suggested by SS – as in Mode 1
  • keywords from a text – as in Mode 2
  • words from a particular vocabulary set – as in Mode 3


1. T gives out a set of cards to each group and asks them to put all the cards out on the table so that everybody can see them all. Then SS put them into two groups – words they know and words they don’t know.

2. T asks SS to shout out words they don’t know. Other SS in other groups help by giving definitions or translations. T reminds SS to use dictionaries and write down the new words.

3. T asks SS to put the words into alphabetical order. This helps them to remember words they have just learned, because they are focusing on them again. T asks SS from different groups to read out part of their list. T writes incorrectly pronounced words on the board and draws SS’s attention to them. T drills the words with the SS from A-Z. T says each word once, then the whole group repeats it.

4. SS find the stressed syllable and stressed vowel sound in each word or phrase. In the case of phrases, SS should identify the single strongest syllable in the whole phrase.

5. T reminds SS about the General Statements on English Spelling and Vowel Sounds. If SS have not studied this before, T could go through each of the 8 statements, eliciting examples. Or, T could ensure that SS have studied this topic during an input lesson prior to using it in a vocabulary session, perhaps exploring the Spelling Patterns worksheets too.

6. SS put each vocabulary word into one of the 7 categories. If a word does not fit any category, it goes in the ‘exceptions’ group. If SS are using discussion words from Talk a Lot, they could lay the cards in lines on the right side of the General Statements… handout.

7. SS count up how many of the words fit into each category. Notice which categories occur the most frequently and how many exceptions there are. T discusses the results with the whole group.


  • The aim of this activity is to remind SS that English spelling can help them to predict the pronunciation of words. Spelling and pronunciation are not completely random in English
  • Variation: do this together with the Stress Statements page (p.113) and SS could give each word a code, e.g. A1 for a one-syllable word with one vowel letter, like ‘big’. SS could think up other words with each code.