Without vocabulary students would be at a loss for words to say. Even that statement seems contradictory. If I am at a loss, how can I say anything at all? Teaching english
can be a little daunting so I believe it's important to keep everything in perspective and maintain a sense of humor. Fortunately teaching vocabulary appears an easier task than opening the can of worms called grammar. What, do the students ask, is a can of worms? It is yet another phrase, which if dissected literally could bring confusion. Alas, this is where the importance of teaching vocabulary rides to the rescue.
There are many methods for teaching vocabulary. Students need skills to listen, read and understand as well as speak. Flashcards, with a word on one side and its definition on the other are effective memorization tools. Incorporating pictures, colorful charts and realia into teaching increases a student's capacity for vocabulary acquisition. In other words, seeing, hearing and touching something gives the student a frame of reference for remembering the word. Realia can also be used to describe grammar vocabulary, such as prepositions. In this case, the bear may sit on, under, behind or in front of the table. Demonstration shows the words instead of merely telling students about them. Not only this, but it bridges culture and language when using realia from the students own environment.
Brainstorming, which is kind of a free for all gathering of words usually, brings together vocabulary within a common subject. For example, the subject could be a horse and the class would say words that they think of in relation to a horse; brown, powerful, spotted, cowboy, saddle, fast.
Plentiful use of media resources such as audio cassettes, music, videos and movie clips is essential.
In addition, speaking english
as much as possible in the classroom is vital.
Tools to assess
vocabulary knowledge include various worksheets. Some of these are matching words with the correct definition, fill in the blanks and true and false questions
An instructor must not only teach a word's definition. They also need to convey the context in which these words are used or how to use them in sentences and in everyday conversation. This is a tall order, as they say. This brings to mind the explanation of phrasal verbs, simple idioms, and words with multiple spellings and meanings. This area needs to be approached with a light touch so students won't become overwhelmed. A key to understanding and spelling words is the teaching of prefixes, suffixes and roots.
What vocabulary the instructor chooses to teach depends upon factors such as age, language level and the specific needs of the students. Textbooks and other resource materials provide reliable information in regards to using appropriate level vocabulary. Some of these recommended books are
The Oxford Picture Dictionary, Word by Word Basic Picture Dictionary, A Way with Words, Vocabulary
Drills and another being Academic Word Power. There are endless more available to search through.
These are just some of the basic points and suggestions to guide
one into teaching vocabulary. Every class will be different, as each nationality carries unique challenges and opportunities. Every class will carry its own tone as to the mixture of age, language ability and cultural identities. That being said, every class will benefit from the suggestions, resources and ideas brought forth to teach vocabulary.
ESLgold.com, Using english