15 practical classroom strategies for helping students with vocabulary

  1. Pre-teach a few key words before tackling reading or writing tasks. Choose words which are important in the context of the task/text, and highlight vocational or academic jargon which they may not come across in everyday life
  2. Labelling – take every opportunity to label key vocabulary on pictures in classrooms as this reminds students of the words/phrases. Learners who can write well can do this in group work tasks
  3. Encourage students to predict key words that will come up in the topic and summarise these on the board or a handout (list, box, mind map). This encourages the group to pool knowledge and gives them something to refer back to later on
  4. Organise your vocabulary into meaningful chunks on the board so that students copy a useful record – e.g. objects for cleaning, verbs for cleaning. Putting related words together helps students to record them in a structured way and therefore remember them
  5. Give a simple example sentence using the key word so students can understand the meaning and how to use the word, or ask a strong learner to do this instead of you
  6. Use checking questions to see if students understand the meaning of the word/phrase and ask stronger students to provide a definition or extra example
  7. Make the context clear – when do we use the word? Is it formal? Is it jargon?
  8. Give visual support for vocabulary – use mime, drawing, pictures, objects to show students what it is
  9. Teach students to highlight tricky words in texts, then check them with a partner or a dictionary as this encourages learner independence. If you pair a strong and a weak learner together they can collaborate on this
  10. Encourage good dictionary skills – make dictionaries available in the room and give students practice in finding the appropriate meaning of the word for their context. Oxford, Longman and Cobuild all produce learner-friendly dictionaries with clear examples and information on how words are pronounced. Students can race to find the best definition and example for you, for additional challenge
  11. Encourage competitive use of phones to find definitions of key words during the lesson. Ask students to justify why they chose that particular definition, if several are available for that word
  12. Give students a simple glossary of key vocabulary and some tasks to practise using the words e.g. cards to match the word with the definition. Stronger learners can help you create this as an extension task
  13. Work with the ILT team to provide illustrated glossaries or pop-up glossaries for web-based materials
  14. Give vocabulary practice exercises such as gap fills, matching exercises, quizzes and crossword exercises so that students recycle the vocabulary regularly. You can do this with the whole group in class or give it to students for homework, with the answers supplied. Learners can create these quizzes for each other and swap them to complete in class as a helpful consolidation exercise
  15. Keep an online dictionary open in the lesson and involve students in looking up tricky words and choosing the appropriate definition for the context
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This entry was posted in Embedding English, embedding literacy, FE, study skills, vocabulary and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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