Download an English as a Second Language Vocabulary Sheet

The Importance of Teaching Vocabulary

For ESL students, a rich vocabulary means being able to communicate through speaking, listening, and writing well. The more words they know, the better they are able to comprehend and to express themselves. A wide vocabulary opens students to a bigger range of learning materials. For ESL teachers, an effective second language teaching means making student learn new words each day. But how do we easily do it? What's the trick?

Effective Ways to Teach Vocabulary

They always say that to be an effective ESL teacher, your lessons must be interesting. You must then have a pocketful of activities to teach vocabulary.

Never be that traditional teacher, who writes 50 new words a day on the board, tells students to memorize them, and then assesses the following day. That is not effective; research shows students do not respond to this type of teaching technique. You're motivated to learn new ways to teach vocabulary, so consider these ideas:

  • Associate new words with a movement or a picture to assist in retention and comprehension.
  • Repeat exercises and drills. ESL students must be able to hear and say the new words learned over and over.
  • Play games that will allow your students to practice the new words learned.
  • Read stories with your students.
  • Use a variety of sources: songs, magazines, newspapers, and video clips.
  • Use picture cards.
  • Bring in realia (the actual object) so they can touch and see the new word taught.
  • Have a role-playing activity that allows them to practice the new vocabulary.
  • Make them write paragraphs/sentences using the new words learned.

Teaching Techniques Revisited

Students learn differently. They must find the best strategies that will work for them in learning new vocabulary words. Here are some techniques you may apply in class:

1. Decontextualizing Techniques

  • dictionary
  • word lists
  • flash cards

2. Semi-Contextualizing Teachniques

  • Concept association: Make them associate the words with something they already know. For example: synonyms and antonyms.
  • Visual Imagery
  • Aural (hearing) imagery
  • Word grouping

3. Fully Contextualizing Techniques

  • Reading and listening
  • Speaking and writing

Sample Vocabulary Lesson Plan

Topic: Numbers

Age: 5-9 years old

Level: Beginner

Time: 35 minutes

Language Skills: Vocabulary and pronunciation

Language Objective: Students will be able to name, pronounce and use 10 English numbers

Methodology: Repetition and Dynamic Method

Materials: markers, flash cards, worksheets

1. Warm-up:

Teacher recites the following nursery rhyme while flashing picture cards:

One, two.. buckle my shoe

Three, four… knock at the door

Five, six… pick up sticks

Seven, eight… lay them straight

nine, ten… a big, fat, hen.

2. Teaching:

  • Teachers holds a flash card with the number "1" on it and says "one" five times.
  • Teacher says "one" again and students (in groups) reapeat it. This is recited five times.
  • Teacher says "one" and has students repeat it individually.
  • Teacher repeats the procedure for all numbers.
  • Teacher posts flash cards on the board and asks students to draw apples with the corresponding number flash cards.