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Teaching Vocabulary...interesting methods? 
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Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2010 7:11 am
Posts: 13
Location: Vallenar, Chile
Post Teaching Vocabulary...interesting methods?
This is my first year teaching, and teaching English at that. I am following MarkĀ“s speaking curriculum since I do not have a textbook (nor want to use one). My students are from 1st to 4th grade, and for many this is their first encounter with English. I do a lot of movement in class and things to vary the lesson (1 1/2 hours for every class) but we do need to work on the focus vocabulary. I have been using the flashcards with them first listening and then repeating. after I toss around a ball to individual students to pronounce the word. They really get into this, and I see results, but not always very quickly. Since I see groups only once a week, Im just wondering how much to expect with some, and other ways I can vary teaching vocabulary so they dont fall asleep! would love any advice.


Working Hard. Learning every day. Making it count.

Sun Apr 25, 2010 8:19 am
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:46 am
Posts: 2130
Location: Nagano, Japan
To the question of how much to cover, I usually do 8-12 words in the first lesson. I spend about 20-25 min. on the vocabulary via drilling/introduction and then some sort of activity that follows. Some of the vocabulary sets are easier than others. For example, fruit is very easy for my groups. Here were I am the English words are used for candy and ice cream flavors in their L1. So, they are familiar with the words. The same goes for colors, numbers, food, sports, clothes, ... So, with these groups I might do all of the vocabulary at once. I usually cover the vocabulary over 3 lessons (1 lesson per week). The first and second lesson focus heavily on the vocabulary. The third lesson or in review thereafter, I work on using the vocabulary in the target language they are tied to. So, for example insects: the first 2 lessons the students would use language they already know, "What's this?" "It's a ladybug." Then in the last lesson after they have decent command of the vocabulary, we work on "I don't like ..." But if they don't know the vocabulary very well, I'll wait. One of my main ideas in teaching is not to mix two new things, new grammar - new vocab. for example. I think it's best to learn one and then the other, using the learned portion to support the next step.

Most sets are made up of 15 vocabulary words. For long term retention, I'm happy if they can retain 12 or so of those words. I teach in an EFL environment and they just don't get enough chance to use English. So, although I bring back sets over and over again in a review element and in trying to integrate old vocabulary in to newly acquired structures, when I bring back something we haven't done is say 6 months, they generally can't remember them all. But that's why we review :)

For introduction and drilling, it can get boring for the students. What I try to do is keep it moving. You can add a small activity in after 6-8 cards:

Remember this!
- after drilling a few cards, start at the beginning and go over each card in order one time. Lay the cards face down somewhere.

- Once you've covered 6 or so cards, stop. Pick up the cards so the students can't see them. Then ask the students "What was the first card?"

- You can give a point or reward to students that guessed correctly

Other things I do is flash a card quickly. See if students can guess what the item is. You can also just show them a little bit of the card at a time, slowly revealing the item.

There are a list of games here, you can play with flashcards to practice vocabulary. Use the games after 6-8 words have been introduced. Once the activity is over go back to drilling and add 2-3 more words. Then try another solidification activity.

I did a quick search through the games forum and came up with some threads on activities for breaking up drilling or to practice with the flashcards:

Here's a game called Zap
- you can adapt this for use with the large flashcards instead of popsicle sticks

Build up! Be positive! Teach hard!

Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:33 am
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Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2010 7:11 am
Posts: 13
Location: Vallenar, Chile
wow mark, thanks for the thorough reply! this helps so much! i am looking for several games to start using since of course the monotony of drilling might kill my students with the looks they are giving me! :D The only problem is with all my limited resources and large classes, I need simple games that dont include too many cards. I have no lamination so i have to use tape...which takes forever. but the bingo cards were great and they had fun before the oral quiz.

one question with the vocabulary and the phrases. So for each vocabulary set, once they have good knowledge of it, you move on to include the vocab in phrases or questions? i was not sure if i taught ALL vocabulary first and then the phrases or include them as we go.

Before now, they have had little to none speaking practice, so this is all new! whew!

Working Hard. Learning every day. Making it count.

Mon May 03, 2010 1:58 am
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