ESL learners need to be taught about the concept of minimal pairs since, being new to the language, ESL students are likely to confuse or conflate the words that only have one minor difference between them. Thus, the use of an exercise that could shed light on the difference between the specified words was a welcome addition to the set of strategies that a teacher can use in a diverse ESL environment. The fact that each of the minimal word pairs drove learners’ attention to the phonetic differences between the words should also be considered a significant opportunity for teaching learners the correct pronunciation.
It should be noted that the exercise has its problems. For instance, the connection between some of the words that were termed as minimal pairs was rather doubtful. Although having roughly the same components in them, the identified minimal pairs were quite different in how they sounded and were spelled. As a result, the exercise might have led to certain confusion among learners if used in a classroom setting.
Also, the lack of opportunities for students to use minimal pairs in a context can be regarded as a significant omission. It would have been a great chance for learners to practice their language skills if they had been given the task of using the provided minimal pairs in a sentence. However, the fact that the minimal pairs were only supposed to be read without being placed in an appropriate context can be regarded as a missed opportunity. On the one hand, one could argue that the specified exercise was not supposed to help students immerse themselves in the English language context and, instead, was required to provide them with general knowledge of English phonetics. On the other hand, the focus on using the specified words in a context would have helped stress the connection between the form and function of words in English.
Therefore, the activity in question can be used as a supplementary one to the rest of the tasks that will help introduce students to the English language environment. For example, the exercise mentioned above can be combined with the assignment to encourage students to identify the connection between the form and function in the English language. For instance, students may be asked to provide two simple examples where each word is used. Creating a sentence that features both words simultaneously can be considered a task for ESL learners as well. Thus, an in-depth understanding of the language can be developed.
Furthermore, the focus on promoting independent exploration of the language can be seen as the platform for building students’ further academic independence. As a result, learners will be motivated to develop the skills required for self-directed learning. Additionally, opportunities for meta-cognition as the foundation for an analysis of one’s own learning process will become open. Thus, students will be aware of their strengths and weaknesses as learners, which will inform their learning strategies. With a powerful emphasis on building memory skills, students will learn essential information fast and efficiently. Consequently, the active academic and personal growth of learners will become a possibility.