In today’s episode of TEFL Tips, we are going to look at what to include when teaching vocabulary with students. The key to communicating in any language is having vocabulary to assist in expressing meaning. Watch this video below to learn how I teach vocabulary in the EFL classroom.
Tip Number 1: Show Word Stress
It’s important that students are aware of how to pronounce correctly and the best way to do this is to show the pattern of word stress. Illustrate word stress with little circles above each syllable. It’s a simple technique but will provide confidence for students to use vocabulary when speaking.
Tip Number 2: Show Vocabulary In Context
It’s invaluable that students know how vocabulary is used. Demonstrate this with showing words in a sentence and how they can use it. Try to include the grammar with the key vocabulary, so if you’ve been looking at the present perfect and the key word is ‘raw’ then you could write the sentence: “I have never eaten raw food. I prefer my food to be cooked.” You show the key word in a grammar form that students have studied but you also embed in context what ‘raw’ means.
Tip Number 3: Teach Synonyms
It is a simple technique but teaching other associated words will help students improve their vocabulary awareness and will also aid them. So if you’ve introduced the word ‘hungry’, shown word stress and written the word in context you could also add other words to mean ‘hungry’. For example, you could write up ‘starving’ or ‘famished’. Students will feel content that they are learning more vocabulary rather than just the necessary words for the lesson.
Tip Number 4: Use Pictures
Many students learn new vocabulary in a range of different ways. Some students learn by listening, some learn by touch and others visually. It is vital to support students learning through many ways and one important way is to use images whenever possible. If you can project the image on the whiteboard, that is great but if you are not then you can make your own flashcards. You can use these to introduce new words with pictures to accommodate different learning styles.
Tip Number 5: Guess The Translation
Don’t allow your students to automatically translate the new word as this is neither useful nor will help your students remember the word. Try to explain the word as described above and then rather than letting your learners translate, get them to guess the translation. If students are correct with their guess, then they will gain the confidence to guess the meaning of the word from context and then will rely less on automatic translation. This will obviously help in other ways such as reading larger passages of text and being able to read at a quicker rate.
Tip Number 6: Teach Phrases & Collocations
The final tip is for students to be aware of natural collocations and being able to use them effectively. If you are teaching words such as ‘meeting’, ‘responsibility’ or ‘promise’, then you could teach common phrases or verbs which collocate with these nouns. For example, you could teach ‘to have a meeting’, ‘to take responsibility’ or ‘to keep a promise’. These phrases are more effective for learners to remember what verbs go with what nouns and will sound more appropriate when learners want to use them in the future.
Those are my six tips for effectively teaching vocabulary to students. Which one do you think is the most important and which do you think is the least important? Let me know if the comments below. I love to read your comments.
Here are some more links for additional reading should you wish to learn more about the teaching of vocabulary.
- Fun Ways to Expand Your Vocabulary: Guide & Infographic by Ivy Panda
- “Teaching Lexically” by Hugh Dellar and Andrew Walkley
- “How To Teach Vocabulary” by Scott Thornbury
- “Lexical Grammar” by Leo Selivan