Embedding English: Using your glossary more effectively to develop vocabulary skills

Many teachers I meet are using glossaries as a repository for key vocabulary on their courses. It can be helpful to make explicit links between the language in the glossary and your delivery during the course and here are some quick activities to do this:

  • In class, focus on the most difficult words from the glossary – the ones that are jargon, culturally loaded or conceptually complex – and try to explain, exemplify and check them with your group
  • Choose 7/8 words from the relevant unit in the glossary and get students to test each other – one student explains the word and gives an example and the other checks in the glossary/dictionary. This works well as a revision exercise at the end of a unit
  • Match up exercises – students match the word to the definition on a card. Try to use the curriculum context in the definition. This can be done in groups or as a whole class
  • As a revision exercise, put up 10 words on big cards on the walls and students walk round in pairs defining the word and giving examples – good activity for the start or end of class
  • Get students to make a visual record of key words from the topic, with examples and pictures, and display it on the wall for reference
  • Envelopes race as group work – each group has 12 words in an envelope and they take it in turns to define a word to their group, who have to guess the word. The quickest group to finish all their words is the winner
  • Each week, put 8 key words from the topic on cards into a shoebox. This box can be used for pair testing, team quizzes and games etc in any spare 5 minutes of the lesson

Things to consider when you write your own glossary

  • Select words that are culturally difficult, conceptually complex or used as jargon in the curriculum area
  • Bear in mind the nature of your group and their knowledge of the areas above
  • When producing examples or definitions, use the context of the course and familiar everyday contexts, if possible
  • Keep your definitions and examples as simple and clear as possible
  • Try not to overload students with too many new words in each unit or activity , as around 6-8 words seem to be the maximum that many learners can deal with at any one time
  • Involve students in creating the glossary and in producing quizzes to test each other on it
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This entry was posted in Advanced Practitioners, Embedding English, embedding literacy, vocabulary and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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