6 ideas for teaching vocabulary effectively

It’s not rocket science. Just simple and common steps to prepare a structural vocabulary lesson with truely positive outcome: students’ results and your saved time.

Context

This is the first thing you consider when teaching vocabulary. It shows not only the meaning of the word, but its connection to other words in a sentence.
We usually introduce the target vocabulary in the context at the first stage of the class. Let’s change that a bit.  Take away the words you plan to work on and ask students to complete the gaps with their guesses. Then, show them new words.
Considering the possible options and connections help students remember new words easier.

Collocations

To continue working on remembering target vocabulary, ask students to match the words in order to make collocations. For the next step, get students to create new pairs, phrases and collocations with the target words.
Phrases, collocations, and pairs create a bigger image which is much easier to remember.

Social encoding

Instead of asking students to read the text and answer some After-Reading questions, encourage them to get ready to retell the story to another student. It seems that when knowledge has a social purpose, it sinks in deeper. Later, you can still ask them to do an After-Reading activity and see much better performance.

Depth of processing

Prepare questions about a new word to help your students analyze this word.

The result – the deeper we process knowledge, the better.

Goal-setting

It might sound amazing, but simply setting a goal in advance can lead to better results. And that is not about big or smart goals. Imagine you have nine new words, and at the end of a class, you give your students a few minutes to remember them. After hiding the vocabulary, ask your students how many words they think they would remember. Eventually, they will do their best to recall as much as possible. Recalling information is a powerful memory tool.

Questions

Traditionally, we want our students to transfer new words from their passive vocabulary into their active one. Creating examples with new words or even making up a story combining everything they have learned. This is a great way to do so. And still, for the next class it is best to encourage students to come up with different questions using new vocabulary. Then they can answer these questions in pairs, open class, or by themselves. Questions make the best focus on the meaning of a new word.

Get ready for vocabulary lessons quickly and teach effectively with the Savvy vocabulary template (download).