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Vocabulary Building Strategies. ELCE Summer Institute: July, 2013 Facilitator: Sonja Follett. Practice makes perfect…. We need to see learning any particular word as being a cumulative process where knowledge is built up over a series of varied meetings with the word.

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vocabulary building strategies

Vocabulary Building Strategies

ELCE Summer Institute: July, 2013

Facilitator: Sonja Follett

practice makes perfect
Practice makes perfect…
  • We need to see learning any particular word as being a cumulative process where knowledge is built up over a series of varied meetings with the word.
  • At best, teaching can provide only one or two of these meetings.
  • The others involve deliberate study, meeting through meaning-focused input and output, and fluency development activities

(Paul Nation, “Teaching Vocabulary”, Asian EFL Journal)

  • With a partner, write down the definition of the word “light”
  • Please also include the part of speech
  • Now, share with the group…
  • Explain what you found difficult about the assignment.
  • What are the problems language learners have when they learn new vocabulary?
  • Definition
  • Concept
  • Associations
  • Spoken Form
  • Written Form
  • Word parts
  • Grammatical functions
  • Collocations
  • Constraints on use
  • What is the meaning?
  • What is the form?
  • What is the use?
  • What activities help Ss to learn a word’s meaning?
  • In pairs, write down one or two activities that you think help Ss learn a word’s meaning.
meaning activities
Meaning activities
  • Word and meaning matching
  • Labeling
  • Sentence completion
  • Crossword puzzles
  • What activities help Ss to learn a word’s form?
  • In pairs, write down one or two activities that you think help Ss learn a word’s form.
form activities
Form activities
  • Following spelling rules
  • Recognizing word parts
  • Building word family tables
  • What activities help Ss to learn a word’s use?
  • In pairs, write down one or two activities that you think help Ss learn a word’s use.
use activities
Use activities
  • Sentence completion
  • Collocation matching
  • Collocation tables
  • Interpreting dictionary entries
content bingo
Content Bingo
  • Have Ss make their own definitions (advanced)
  • Give descriptions instead of words (intermediate/advanced)
word form fill in the blank
Word Form Fill-in-the-blank

Complete each sentence with the correct form of the word.

  • Large rocks and meteorites crashed into the moon’s surface_________________________ large holes called craters. 

create creation creator creating 

2. One of the _______________________ of the space program was to land a man on the moon.  

goal goalkeepers goals goal-oriented

  • Flashcards can be either picture and English definition or
  • L1 and L2 words
  • For example: Ekimi Doctor
  • Have Ss make their own set of flashcards for new vocabulary.
  • Then, have pairs quiz each other using the flashcards.
student generated fill in the blank
Student generated Fill-in-the-blank
  • Give Ss a list of vocabulary words
  • Ask pairs to create their own fill-in-the blank sentences for 2 words.
  • Have pairs exchange papers with another pair and try to complete their sentences.
  • Have the small group discuss answers.
fill in the blank
  • Words: sun, wind
  • The ________ was shining brightly yesterday.
  • The terrible _________ blew down a tree today.
using 10 words in a story
Using 10 words in a story
  • Give Ss a list of vocabulary words.
  • Tell them they must use at least 10 of the words in a short story or paragraph.
  • (Note: this can be done in pairs or small groups)
  • Collect the story (it is a vocabulary assessment).
  • (pollution, environment, trash, smoke, plastic bags, cans, recycle, community, laws, throw away)
  • 1. Sort the word cards by category. (e.g., words related to people, words related to things).
  • 2. Find words that have certain connotations such as positive and negative, good and bad, desirable and undesirable.
  • 3. Sort words by part of speech (e.g., nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives).
spelling bee
Spelling Bee
  • Small class or small groups
  • Have Ss stand in a line in front of the board.
  • Say the first vocabulary word and ask the first student to spell the word.
  • If the student is correct, she/he stays at the board.
  • If the student is incorrect, she/he must sit down.
  • Note: Emphasize that learning is a process and mistakes are a normal and necessary part of that process. Consider if this activity is appropriate for your students.
fly swatter
Fly Swatter
  • Choose a vocabulary word from your lesson.
  • Have two Ss come to the front of the class.
  • Give each Ss a rolled up piece of paper.
  • Write the word on the board – (one word is spelled correctly, the other word is not)
  • For example:
  • Truck Truk
  • The first student to “hit” the correct word wins a point for their team.
word tiles
Word Tiles
  • Have Ss make a set of alphabet cards
  • Ask Ss to make 2 or 3 cards for each letter.
  • Ask Ss to work in pairs and spell as many words as possible related to their lesson content.
  • When Ss complete one word, they must write it on a piece of paper.
  • At the end of 10 minutes, collect the papers and see which group has won!
vocabulary charts
Vocabulary charts
  • See handout provided…
  • When you teach new content words, give Ss a list of the words as homework.
  • Ask Ss to fill out at least 4 of the chart boxes for each word.
  • Have pairs work together in the next lesson to share what information they wrote down.
  • Collect the charts at the end of the unit and test Ss on their acquired word knowledge.
  • Nation, Paul. “Teaching Vocabulary” Asian EFL Journal.
  • Nation, P. (2008). Teaching Vocabulary. Online Course offered by Thomson ELT.
  • Nation, P. (2007). The Four Strands. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 1(1), 2-13.