5) How to Teach Vocabulary

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- techniques for presenting vocabulary - how to check students understand the meaning of a word - effective ways to teach vocabulary - vocabulary activities for smart & fun learning

The words 'big' and 'large' have the same:
a. meaning
b. pronunciation
c. spelling
d. collocation

a. meaning

What is the difference between the words 'to buy' and 'to purchase'?
a. They have different meanings.
b. They have different forms.
c. They belong to different styles.
d. Only one of them has the antonym 'to sell'.

c. They belong to different styles.

What is a collocation?
a. Two words with the same root.
b. Two or more words that usually go together.
c. Two sentences next to each other.
d. A sentence in a colloquial style.

b. Two or more words that usually go together.

What advice would you give to a student who wants to know how to organise her vocabulary list?
a. Put all related words together in groups.
b. Translate the words first.
c. Separate long words from short words.
d. Separate difficult words from simple words.

a. Put all related words together in groups.

You discover that one of your students remembers action verbs the best after playing 'Simon says', where he has to physically repeat the actions named by the teacher. That probably means that he processes words ________________.

kinaesthetically

Which of the following adverbs refers to processing words by listening to them?
a. visually
b. aurally
c. kinaesthetically
d. sensitively

b. aurally

The words 'increase' and 'decrease' are:
a. synonyms
b. antonyms
c. homonyms

b. antonyms

Which of the following is the best way to define 'sand' by segmenting the meaning into its component parts?
a. It's yellow. It's on the beach. You walk on it. It gets hot in the sun.
b. It's a substance that consists of very small fine grains of rock. It is found on beaches, in deserts, etc.

a. It's yellow. It's on the beach. You walk on it. It gets hot in the sun.

Which of the following is not a suitable concept question to check the meaning of the word 'to whisper'?
a. Is it a way of talking?
b. Is it loud?
c. Do you like to whisper?
d. In what situations would you whisper?

c. Do you like to whisper?

Which of the following is a suitable concept question to check the meaning of the word 'exhilarated'?
a. Who is exhilarated?
b. Do you often feel this way?
c. Is it safe?
d. Is this a happy feeling?

d. Is this a happy feeling?

Before you begin to explain the meaning of a new word to your students, it is a good idea to...

Try to elicit the meaning from them.

Good advice for a teacher who is going to prepare a set of memory cards is...

Select words that revise recent vocabulary lessons.

Pairs/pelmanism is particularly useful because...

It reinforces the link between a word and its image in students' minds.

Why is brainstorming a useful technique when teaching new language?

It allows students to integrate new words with words they already know

Hangman is particularly useful to help students remember...

spelling of words

'Depart,' 'leave,' and 'head off' have similar meanings but are different ______.

styles

Students need to know they can say "strong coffee" but not "heavy coffee" Strong coffee is a...

collocation - which is two or more words that often go together. These combinations just sound "right" to native English speakers, who use them all the time.

Rather than just telling students what words mean, a teacher can ______ the word by drawing a picture or miming.

elicit

Understanding the _______ of words allows students to communicate their ideas.

meaning

It is possible to convey meaning even without being aware of verb structures and other grammatical rules. For example, "My book where is?" and "You like we go now?"

Teachers should encourage students to communicate regardless of their ability because students can make _____________ mistakes and still be understood.

pronunciation

Meaning

What does it refer to, and how is it being used?

Form

Is it a noun (sensitivity), an adjective (sensitive) or an adverb? (sensitively)

Pronunciation

How do I physically say the word?

Stress

How many syllables are there, and where is the stress?

For example, the word 'delegate' has 3 syllables and the first syllable is stressed.

Spelling

Are there any rules or guidance relating to the spelling - or some tricks to help remember it?

Style

Formal or Informal?

Collocations

How does the word combine with other words?

When a student learns a new word or group of words, they need to focus on characteristics concerning...

meaning, form, pronunciation, stress, spelling, style, collocations.

A teacher can help alleviate the pressure of learning a lot of new words by...

- presenting new words in context
- give students plenty of opportunity to use new words & phrases

Avoid long, unrelated lists of words. Encourage students to keep their own __________ lists of related words. This is especially important at lower levels.

vocabulary

Give students plenty of opportunity to practise new vocabulary in ______ and realistic contexts. Try using visual organisers, such as pictures, charts or mindmaps.

useful

We have to include in our lesson plans how we intend to present vocabulary to beginner and elementary students who don't have enough vocabulary to understand definitions - especially when we are not familiar with the students' mother tongue.

We can use gestures, pictures and/or realia (real objects), or we might encourage them to use bilingual dictionaries.

When learning a new language, people process words differently. The three most common ways are...

visually, aurally, and kinaesthetically

Most people use a combination of all three. For this reason it's helpful for learners to hear, see and relate words to memorable contexts.

There are a number of ways you can present words, but the key is to do so quickly and _________.

memorably.

Bring in realia (real objects), Mime it, Draw a picture, Show a flash card, Make a sound, Use a synonym, Use an antonym, Put the word in a sentence, Encourage students to use a monolingual dictionary, Explain the word in the students' language (or ask them to look it up in their bilingual dictionary)

When a teacher explains the meaning of a word using language that is less complex than the word itself, they are _______ the meaning into component parts to make it easier to understand.

segmenting

A 6 step method that works for teaching new words (and groups of words is...)

1- Present (show a picture / mime)
2 - Elicit (extract the information from students)
3 - Feed (If students don't know the word, feed it to them)
4 - Concept questions (e.g. what does...? who uses...?)
5 - Drill (repeat the word over - both chorally and individually)
6 - Write (on the board and highlight the grammar and pronunciation)

Write the key word is in the middle of the board and write new vocabulary around it. You can use this as a 'warmer'. It is called...

Brainstorming

After a reading comprehension activity, ask students to _________, for example, 10 words, or 5 nouns or 6 adjectives, etc, that they know in the reading passage (other than those taught before the reading). Then in pairs and small groups, they check the results - if a group member doesn't know a word, the person/people who have underlined it explain the meaning to them.

underline

Match unfamiliar words from one column with definitions from another column. The new / unfamiliar words are numbered in column one, and the definitions are mixed up and lettered in column two.

Mix & Match Activity

Maintain a card system and rotate the cards so that unfamiliar words are constantly reviewed. Each card can include collocations, antonyms, different grammatical forms and meanings. Sentences on the card can illustrate when meanings differ according to the context.

Memory cards / Flash cards

"In my ________" is a vocabulary game in which students sit in a circle and the teacher 'puts something in the suitcase' beginning with A (avocado). Then the student to her left says 'avocado, book'. The next student continues 'avocado, book, car', etc.

suitcase

Pairs or Pelmanism is a vocabulary game in which...

students mix up cards and then put them face down on the table. They take turns turning over two cards. If the card has a word the student reads it. If the card has a picture the students says the name. If the picture and word match the student keeps the pair and gets another turn. If the cards don't match then they are turned face down again and then next student has a go. When there are no cards left the students should count their pairs. The student with the most pairs wins.

In the Affixation game students...

using prefixes and suffixes to make new words. Example: students use a root (such as happy) and then brainstorm all the words they can make with that root: unhappy, happiness, happily, unhappily, happier, etc.

In ___ ____ exercises the students select appropriate words to insert in sentences

gap fill

For children & beginners the teacher can put pictures in the gaps to help with a clue. Consider using multiple choice options to help students consider similar words. (This activity is frequently used on international exams so it's a good one to use in class.)

In matching word games students...

match the beginnings & the ends of words together like dominoes. This is a great task that helps with spelling and recognizing syllables in English. It can also be used to work on compound words, for example grand/mother or foot/ball.

Matching pictures to words can be good for _________ or young learners. Use either a worksheet or cards. If you create the worksheet list the vocabulary on the left and the pictures on the right. They should not be in the correct order. Students then match the pictures and the words.

beginners

Learning vocabulary in _____ can help students memorise the words, for example: black and white / beautiful and ugly.

pairs

Antonym Dictation is when...

the teacher dictates a word (for example, small) and the students write it down + an antonym (e.g. big)

Anagrams are a great filler and can be done on the board to review vocabulary.

For example, if you've been working on the family you could write the following: throem (mother) or sno (son).

Word ________ are a good vocab review activity

searches

The teacher gives the students a specific number of words in a square of letters. The teacher can tell the students the words they must look for or just tell them how many words and the subject.

Hangman is a good vocab practice activity but if it seems inappropriate for the culture or age group, drawing _____ to an ocean can be a good substitute and the ocean can have ______.

steps
sharks

I-Spy is a ________ game.

guessing

Look around the classroom and decide what object to 'spy', for example, clock. Say 'I spy with my little eye something beginning with C.' The students then take it in turn to guess what it is.

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