Teaching Vocabulary-links, books, ideas










a poster created 2 preteach vocabulary for ‘Waiting for the Police’ by Farjeon

 This post is for Emma Herrod’s The Two-Week Vocabulary Blogging Challenge. Here you can also find great ideas to teach, store and learn vocabulary. You can read and reach more from Tyson’s posts

I believe one of the most difficult areas of teaching English is teaching vocabulary. Students, often aware of the need for more words to express themselves, never give much importance on learning the words. They tend to focus on the grammar more. In my exams, vocabulary questions are usually not answered correctly or fully. They sometimes say, they know the meaning of the words but cannot use them in sentences or they cannot insert them into the correct gaps.

I think this is mainly because they memorize the words and the definitions instead of learning or using them in meaningful contexts. Although I advise them to do so, it is often difficult to beat the habits that are formed long ago. Another reason that makes learning vocabulary difficult is the mother tongue. If the mother tongue is completely different from the foreign language the obstacles becomes bigger. Yet this is still a problem that can be overcome, so here are some ideas

·         Teach words in context

·         Focus on active vocabulary

·         Brainstorm ideas. Prepare word clouds.

·         Make associations. Play games with associations.

·         Ask concept questions to make sure they understand the word

·         Prepare exercises focusing on concept questions

·         Teach words in chunks

·         Teach collocations

·         Teach prefixes and suffixes

·         Teach how to use verbs, adverbs, adjectives, nouns. (unfortunately they even don’t know the difference in their mother tongue which makes our jobs more difficult)

·         Ask them to draw. I usually ask them to illustrate the idioms and ask them to write a situation where the expression or the idiom is used. Display them on the walls.

·         Prepare word posters from the words they have to learn. Display on classroom walls and ask them to write their own stories with some of the words from the poster, then give the exercise you prepared for them.

·         Prepare puzzles or ask them to prepare puzzles for their friends.

·         Play vocab games with the words that are displayed on the walls.

·         Make them use dictionaries, online dictionaries

An idea from a student of mine: 

watch series or movies with English subtitles with a notebook. 

 jot down any interesting word or expression in the notebook

watch it again and try to use whenever you have the opportunity

And below you will find great links and books to inspire you while teaching vocabulary:

vocabulary actıvıtıes from ReadingResource.Net

Esl vocabulary games from eslgamesworld

Teaching Vocabulary Two dozens tips and techniques

Thinkmap Visual Thesarus

Weboword  Vocabulary visually

Multi-sensory vocabulary drilling – Herbert Puchta (Playway Second edition

Teaching Vocabulary: Lessons from the Corpus, Lessons for the Classroom

Humanising language Teaching magazine 

MyVocabulary.com from @shannonmmiller and @janetbianchini

How to teach Vocabulary by Scott Thornbury, Longman

English Vocabulary in Use series by Michael McCarthy and Felicity O’Dell, Stuart Redman, CUP

Vocabulary  by John Morgan and Mario Rinvolucri, OUP

9 comments on “Teaching Vocabulary-links, books, ideas
  1. Good tips, and don’t forget the most powerful vocabulary acquisition tool of all-reading. Read short stories, magazine articles, novels, anything you can get them to love. “Teaching” vocabulary and looking up words in dictionaries is entirely hit-or-miss, but reading for pleasure is undeniably the most effective vocabulary teacher for all ages for all languages for all time. Students learn the nuances of idioms and vocab and assimilate them into active vocabulary when they hear and read and use vocabulary in context over and over and over, period.

  2. Hi Eva

    Thanks for the mentions! An additional two resources that I’ve found great are:

    1) Vocabulary by Colin Campbell (Garnet Education)
    2) Vocabulary Matrix by Mccarthy, O’Keefe & Walsh (Heinle)


  3. Hi Sara Elizabeth,
    Thanks for sharing your ideas. I agree with you that vocabulary is best learned when they read a short story or a novel for pleasure.

    Dear janet and Tyson,
    thanks for the book recommendations.

  4. Hi Eva,

    I really enjoyed reading this – some excellent suggestions and ideas here!

    I also find rebus quizzes (using pictures as well as words) can be very useful for teaching vocabulary to beginners and elementary students – here’s an example of a rebus quiz I uploaded to my site, to help my students learn English words for colours:



  5. Pingback: Tools and Sites to Teach and Learn Vocabulary | A Journey in TEFL

  6. Pingback: The Twenty-First Edition of the ESL/EFL/ELD Blog Carnival | Reflections on Teaching

  7. Pingback: Do you teach ESL/EFL/ELD, check out the Blog Carnival, it is packed full of resources

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