Categorical Perception Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has an Masters of Science in Mathematics and a Masters in Education

Use this lesson plan to teach your students about categorical perception. Students will watch a video lesson on the topic, discuss and interact with content, take a quiz, and do a project to show understanding.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define 'categorical perception'
  • explain the relationship between speech and categorical perception
  • research and report on other types of categorical perception


1 hour for the core lesson, plus time for students to do research and create a presentation

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.11-12.4

Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 11-12 texts and topics.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1

Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.4

Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a range of formal and informal tasks.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.5

Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.


Key Vocabulary

  • Categorical perception
  • Voice onset time (VOT)
  • Phonetic boundary

Warm-Up and Preparation

  • Start the video lesson Categorical Perception: Definition & Explanation and pause at 1:25.
  • Divide students into partners and have them discuss:
    • Have you ever had the experiences of not hearing sounds in another language or heard a native Japanese speaker unable to distinguish the /l/and /r/ sound? What was it like?
    • What is your understanding of categorical perception?
  • Resume the lesson and pause again at 1:45.
  • Define 'categorical perception' with students and have them title their notebooks with this term.

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