Activities for Teaching Vocabulary: How
Can You Teach (or Learn) New Words?
First of all, when using activities
for teaching vocabulary
there are two key points we must
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- The student has to actually USE the new words.
He must understand the new word's meaning, and then he must practice
- Each word has several aspects to it.
The first and most important is the word's meaning.
After that you have: pictures, word's usage, pronunciation and spelling.
For each of those aspects you can use different activities.
Let's say you teach (or learn) the word "exhilaration".
First you clearly define its meaning: "excitement and happiness".
You can use a good and
simple English dictionary
for the meanings of words.
Then you can show one or more pictures that express "exhilaration". It
can really help understanding. And it is definitely much more
interesting that way! Funny pictures take it one step further, since
they are usually more fun.
Next: how is this word used? Make some example sentences:
- "After winning the lottery she felt an
- "Climbing that mountain was really hard, but in
the end we all felt
- "The bride and groom left the church in
Have the students make up sentences of their own.
Of course, merely reading the word is not enough. You need to know how
to pronounce it properly too!
Teach the correct pronunciation of the word. How come it is pronounced
that way? For example, the word "cake", is pronounced with a
sound because of the silent E in the end. (English pronunciation may
appear disorganized at times, but actually, there are some helpful
rules on the subject. Visit the English
section for more data on the sounds
Finally, you can't really claim you know a word, if you cannot use it
in writing. Therefore you must know its spelling.
Dictations can be used to make the students memorize the new words'
spelling. The problem with a dictation is that after it is over, it is
very easy to forget all about it…
So it is in no way a replacement for the actual and repeated usage of
the word in reading and writing.
So here is an example lesson plan to teach some
- Make a list of the new words you want to teach.
Make sure they are
right for your students' level: not too difficult, not too easy.
- Prepare for yourself the words' meanings as
well as some
- Prepare some games with the new words (see
- Go over the new words with your
students, and see that they get
- Play some games with the new words. For
example: flashcards, playing
cards, etc. You can use or invent whatever games you like.
- Read a story/stories with the new words. The
more those words repeat
in the text, the better. Make sure the stories do not contain hard
words that the students do not know yet.
- After that, make some more activities.
exercises, questions, and so forth, to further practice the new words.
- On the next lesson, study some new words, but
don't forget the "old"
ones! They do require repeating.
Activities for Teaching
Vocabulary – Final Words
For more data on the subject please read the Building Vocabulary and
Some Common Mistakes
And no matter which activity you use, keep this key question
in front of you:
Does it make the students USE and REPEAT the new words?
The next main thing is to make it fun
Make a game out of it. Involve
some points, some winners, etc. Learning new words doesn't have to be
boring. When done nicely, it can be a lot of fun!
Visit the Vocabulary
section to improve your vocabulary!