“Teacher, how can I improve my vocabulary?”
This is one of the most common questions English language students ask their teachers. Below is a list of a few useful tips to help your students expand their lexicon both inside and outside the classroom.
1. Context is key
Students should learn new words in context rather than trying to remember word lists. While reading, students should try to guess the meaning of new words from the context of the situation rather than reaching for their dictionary. Practise doing this in class with your students to encourage them to continue doing it in their own time.
2. Read, read, read!
Challenge your students to read for at least 10 minutes every day. It’s important to choose something they enjoy, but it’s also a good idea to read a variety of different texts. Reading while listening to the audio version is excellent too. Check out the Blinkist app for short texts with audio! You could set up a book club in your class and designate a time every week to discuss what the student read that week.
3. Use a vocabulary notebook
Encourage your students to write new words in a vocabulary notebook or create flashcards to test themselves with later. Vocabulary notebooks can include the definition, example sentences, different uses, translations, a picture for visual learners, and anything else students think would help them to remember.
4. Use synonyms
Suggest that your students use a thesaurus to find synonyms for words they already know and use frequently. Encourage them to practice using the new vocabulary in class, so that you have the opportunity to correct any errors and ensure they use them in the correct context.
5. Make a vocabulary box
Create a vocabulary box for your classroom. Write new words that students learn in class on pieces of paper every day. At the end of each week, use the words to play a class game, for example, you could have the students choose a few from the box and create sentences, mime the words, explain the meaning or play a describe and guess game. Encourage students to create their own vocabulary boxes at home which they can to play with friends who are also learning English.
6. Use it or lose it!
Remind your students that in order to remember new vocabulary, they need to use it in conversations again and again. It is often said that you need to see/use a word 7 times before you really learn it. Students should be given the opportunity to use the language as much as possible during speaking activities in class and challenge themselves to use it while out and about.
Hope these tips help you and your students. Do you have any more tips to add to this list? We would love to hear them!
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