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When learning English - one of the first things to do is to get students to acquire a good "bank" of words so they can have some ground on which to talk and begin to communicate. Further down the road, students need to acquire academic vocabulary to succeed and also grow their vocabulary bank and be able to access more and more English content/world.

 

This GSL (general service list) has all the words and audio. Here's a pdf.

It isn't easy. I believe one fundamental thing to do at first - is to contentrate on verbs. They are the flypaper of the brain. If a student can memorize, recall instantly the main 20-30 verbs, then the other words (nouns) will stick.

Gif Lingua is a great tool for vocabulary study. Sign up as a teacher and you can download the presentations as PPTs and worksheets. Also students can learn the first 1,000 words of English in book form through our Words series,             

See our Resources for a place to share your own Vocabulary resources.  Also see our Teacher Tools for a good list of vocabulary related tools.  Also a must is Word Count. 

Cambridge has a nice pdf full of ideas for teaching vocabulary. Take a look!

Here are some flashcards of the top 100 words in the English language and a handy presentation of them. (Find this video on our Karaoke video page). What tips, activities, resources can you suggest for learning words? How do we get the students to "collect" these bricks so they can build their own house of language??????

The Top 100 Words

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I'd like to offer up a few more items which I think will really help teachers and also get them to think more about how students learn words. I think we as teachers often waste a lot of time teaching words which are estranged from their context. Kind of like trying to learn how to swim and never having seen a large amount of water....

Paul Bloom's article while technical is erudite and bang on.... The Vocab. Acquisition pdf is really clear and especially presented for teachers. Take a look, many great ideas.
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There are different vocabulary presentation types. When planning a lesson, it is crucial to look at ways in which lexis can be seen to be organised. We should be sure to teach inflections and derivatives and give the students the opportunity to learn new words incidentally, through extensive reading and listening tasks and keeping track of which words our students really need to know. Learners need to see the new words in print and hear their pronounciation and practice saying them. Associating a visual image with a word helps learners remember the word.

I use these activities with my grade two students.
- Realia and visuals: show real objects or pictures of real objects to students.
- Matching: Students listen to a song or a text and match the words with the correct pictures.
- Word-building: use parts of words to help students build words or guess their meaning.
- Demonstrating: Act out, mime, or demonstrate words.
- Pictograms: Draw the words to represent their meaning.
- Synonyms/ Antonyms and creating word maps.
- Topic/ Situation/ Lexical Fields: Students look at lists of lexical items and identify the topical relationship between the items.
- Hyponymy: Students look at lists of lexical items and identify the relationship between each one.
- Componential Analysis:when trying to analyse differences between words and shades of meaning.
- Completing collocations as a cloze activity.
- Word Families
- Sorting lists of words and deciding on categories.
- Guessing unknown words from context.
Rawya,

Great ideas! Very student centered and having students encounter/engage with language in a "context". Like them singing your bus song on a bus! Research has shown that students acquire vocabulary 4 times faster when they don't study boring word lists or do endless word sheets and memorization games like bingo. 4 times faster when they learn the words in their context and with a "real need" to say the word, not a clearly artificial one. But you are also using many explicit strategies which work, showing them the puzzle of language and giving them the skills to figure it out.

I'll have more activity ideas (like a Word Wall - should be standard in all EFL classes!) soon... For the moment, I was reminded of this great video in our A/V player. Might be nice to make a video with our students using their favorite words. Also, given the political climate in the middle east - this video speaks volumes....

Amazing video...so inspiring....like the "PEACE" song...
But....I'm afraid that the values we're teaching to our students and their rights are not in the real world....not in our children's world...our students know that the real world is not working like this...they just don't see that PEACE around them :(
May God help us all to build that new world.
Yeah Rawya, I hear you loud and clear. Very much agree...tragic really.

Here is the ppt I promised which outlines many strategies with a few cartoons thrown in for good measure... Lots of ideas for teachers.

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Hi Derek,

Totally agree with your thoughts on vocabulary. Regular exposure to new words in context is the way to go. Looking forward to having the time to go through the .pdf although I mostly teach adults (where did it come from, by the way?)

I have a few thoughts though for those of us who are required to help students learn lists of vocabulary - often due to required curricula that haven't been updated for years. I'm in a situation like that with one of my groups, but I am discovering ways around the boredom of learning word lists.

Reduce the number of words per week to a realistic level (for my adult esp class I do about 10 a week).

Don't give the definitions. Learners do their own research in monolingual dictionary in preparation for the following class.

Use a variety of methods in class to test that the vocab has been learnt:
- if vocab is grouped thematically (the best way I think) invent a short text containing all the vocab and turn it into a gapfill. A similar exercise is to use synonyms of the tested words in the text and have sts suggest alternatives.
- give list of definitions; sts have to come up with the words
- in a monolingual class, give the translation (just to give variety - I wouldn't do this too often)
- ask sts to write sentences which use the words appropriately
- if revising a large number of vocab items brainstorm and mindmap vocabulary according to theme
- give sts the tested words in a table where they have to come up with related forms and expressions (noun, adjective, verb etc.)

Any other ideas about making boring vocab lists more interactive and useful?


ddeubel said:
I'd like to offer up a few more items which I think will really help teachers and also get them to think more about how students learn words. I think we as teachers often waste a lot of time teaching words which are estranged from their context. Kind of like trying to learn how to swim and never having seen a large amount of water....

Paul Bloom's article while technical is erudite and bang on.... The Vocab. Acquisition pdf is really clear and especially presented for teachers. Take a look, many great ideas.
Simon,

So many ideas! I also agree to reduce the number of words / week. I would also caution teachers to teach explicit strategies sparingly (but do so!) unless your students need it for completing vocab tests/standardized tests.

There are also lots of games in our games areas which test student knowledge. Like Free Rice Aid to Children (lower level) etc...

Here's a nice ppt to use with students and which harnesses the human capacity for association or cognation...we basically memorize/remember words in many ways but if we associate a word around a picture/idea, it is learned quicker. With this ppt, you can show the picture and get students to mindmap words around the theme. Then show them the next slide with words. Do they know them? How many were on their own list (for points!)....could be fun. I made this using the just reviewed new vocab site PicLits.com

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I also failed to mention this site - Word Count. A really amazing up to the minute ranking of all the words of the WWW.
I've updated the vocabulary building ppt above. Now with suggestions for using the slides in language promoting activities...

Vocabulary Building

VOCABULARYBUILDING.swf

VOCABULARYBUILDING.ppt
I worked for the Toronto District School Board and here are some handy "handouts" which students can do by themself to reinforce vocabulary thematically.

Also, this book - Pictures for Teachers has a lot of vocabulary with pictures. I use the pictures as mini flashcards for guessing games/telling a story/question and conversation prompts etc....
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Here is another site with lots of vocabulary and audio. A really good way for thematic vocabulary learning.

LANGUAGE GUIDE.ORG
I love this idea- for learning vocabulary in your native language, too. Teachers are always dismayed at the limited vocabulary of their students, in all grades. Of course the answer is reading, reading, reading, but what if your students just don't like to read on their own? We are becoming more and more visually oriented (at least in terms of images). And I don't think this is all a bad thing, in a way it is going back to our most natural way of learning, by watching and doing, (that is the trick in today's society, to make sure there is a "do" part too!). So why not go with the flow?

Really, a great way to expand vocabulary beyond what would be usually be picked up- I'm going to remember this one, wherever I teach! The words to go with images could initially be done as a class brainstorm, with the teacher adding words she might want included within that activity- more student buy in, plus activating prior class knowledge : ). (Just read the mind map suggestion, another great one! Maybe mind map in pairs...)

I also enjoy free rice, I'll have to check out Aid to Children and add them to Pennies : )

There are also lots of games in our games areas which test student knowledge. Like Free Rice Aid to Children (lower level) etc...

Here's a nice ppt to use with students and which harnesses the human capacity for association or cognation...we basically memorize/remember words in many ways but if we associate a word around a picture/idea, it is learned quicker. With this ppt, you can show the picture and get students to mindmap words around the theme. Then show them the next slide with words. Do they know them? How many were on their own list (for points!)....could be fun. I made this using the just reviewed new vocab site PicLits.com

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