Monday 1 March 2010

Teaching Vocabulary to EFL and ESL Students

Updated 17 February 2012

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Basic Tips
  • Use it. You should use a word 10 times while speaking or 20 times while writing.
  • Read. Reading will allow you to learn vocabulary passively. Best of all, it's fun!
  • Study. People interested in teaching as a profession can earn an online teaching certificate from the comfort of their home.
  • Play games. Scrabble, Boggle, Crosswords, or Vocabulary Bags can help students with vocabulary. 
  • Look online. There are lots of lesson plans and worksheets in the lesson planning link.
  • Mnemonics. Thinking of related words or pictures can help students remember vocab.
  • A word a day. Use it correctly and you'll be on your way to having a larger vocabulary.
  • Slangs and idioms. These are a part of English speakers everyday lives. Learning these expressions will help you on exams as well.
  • Vocabulary cards or notebooks. Keeping a small notebook with you will help you make the most of your time and review vocab.
  • Don't stare. Simply staring at a word won't help you commit it to memory. You have to use it.
  • Look it up. Dictionaries are great for expanding your vocabulary.
  • Take online tests. There are tons of websites that have vocabulary tests and games.
  • Thesaurus. It's a book of synonyms and antonyms. It will help you use other words besides "good" or "bad".
  • Roots, prefixes, and suffixes. Learning what they mean can help you understand new words.
  • Groups words. Arrange them by themes, synonyms, antonyms, etc.
  • Mental images. Think about the word. Visualise something that it reminds you of.
  • Association. Associate the new vocabulary word with one that you already know.
  • Rhyme. Create a rhyme using the vocabulary word.
  • Create. Write a story or sentence that includes that word.
  • Translate it. Sometimes it's easier to translate the word into your native language.
  • Part of speech. Know what part of speech the word is and if it can be made into other parts of speech.
  • Collocations. There are no reasons for collocations. They just have to be memorised.
  • Spelling. Students spell the word aloud. It helps them remember it and review the English alphabet.
  • More tips. How to teach your students vocab.

General Test Taking Tips
  • Read and follow all the instructions. It only takes a minute or two and can save you a lot of time.
  • Forget cramming. You should study a little every day. Don't try to learn everything the night before.
  • Eat breakfast. It's the most important meal of the day and is necessary to help you think. 
  • Bring your materials. Have your pencils, erasers, watch, and ID ready the night before.
  • Go early. Make sure you leave your house ahead of time so that you get to the class a few minutes before the test begins.
  • Pace yourself. Don't work too slowly or too quickly. If you've finished early, go back and check your answers.
  • Check your answers. Make sure you haven't made any simple mistakes.
  • Don't panic. It's just a test. The worst you can do is fail.
Specific Test Taking Tips for Vocabulary
  • No blanks. Guess if you have to, but don't leave any blanks on a test.
  • Eliminate answers. If there are four and you can eliminate two then you have a 50-50 chance.
  • Move on. If you don't know the answer, guess and go to the next one.
  • Go with your first answer. It's usually the correct one. 
  • Same letter. Sometimes you may find the same letter repeating itself. That's ok. Don't second guess yourself.


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