Home Forums iTDi TESOL Certificate A vocabulary lesson: Activity 10 A vocabulary lesson: Activity 10

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    • #6538


      Imagine you have presented these six items of vocabulary about transportation at intermediate level:

      get on/off, coach, return trip, rest stop, express, make a reservation, overnight.

      Think of some activities to practice them.

      Post your ideas in a reply below and comment on other teachers’ ideas.

    • #6919

      With intermediate learners, I would start by getting them to make simple WH Q’s from 2 prompts:

      • Where/get on -> e.g. Where do I get on?
      • When/get off -> e.g. When do/will/can I get off?
      • What time/coach
      • How much/return trip

      Then, I would get students to ask and answer each other. For example:

      • S1: What does the coach leave?
        S2: 10 am

      I might also prompt them for complete sentences for practice (e.g. The coach leaves at 10am), even if we often use short answers in reality.

      This would then lead well into a role play.

      A final written activity might be to write a short story/diary/narrative/skit about a coach trip, which can be revisited in the next class.

      • #8044

        Rhett Burton

        ‘even if we often use short answers in reality.’ – This is something that I have trouble with. Sometimes the way people talk isn’t the most effective way to help people learn. The human brain likes shortcuts and will save energy`by sometimes taking the path of least resistance/energy (NO reference here…sorry!). I work with young learners. I always expect students to use complete sentences. After they have reach an a2 level, I also for more flexibility.

      • #8064

        Thank you for sharing and highlighting that.

        I think there’s a notable difference here between EFL and ESL. With the much greater exposure to language in ESL, students quickly understand from real situations and their experiences, what the shortened answers mean and refer to. In EFL, there isn’t usually enough opportunities to develop an unconscious awareness/understanding of language patterns and before they can use short forms and ‘leave out words’, I think they need to know what’s being left out.

    • #7911

      Barbara Bujtás

      I would write a very short story of someone who has used / is going to use / usually uses a coach, it might contain a funny or unexpected element, but I’d leave the target words out of the text.

      Then I’d ask them to write their own story, the more words the can use, the better.

      • #8001

        I like the short story idea with a funny/unexpected element that will make it more memorable!

        Just to confirm, when you say you will leave the target words out of the text, do you mean as a blank filler?

        I’m curious to know when you say the more words the better, are you referring to total word count and/or the number of target words?

        Lastly, what are your thoughts on getting students to create their own blank filler for each other/you?

      • #8101

        Barbara Bujtás

        Yes, blank filler 🙂
        I would encourage them to try to use as many of the target words as they can, yes.
        Creating their own blank filler is a great idea, actually, one of my students loves this!

      • #8104

        Do you use online tools to create blank filler (or cloze) worksheets or tests? If so, what’s your favourite?

        Usually, I’ve just made mine in Word but it can be time-consuming to find or create level-appropriate content.

      • #8233

        Barbara Bujtás

        Free after registration, you click I want to use my own text.

    • #8043

      Rhett Burton

      I rarely teach vocabulary in isolation. Therefore, My first activity would be to read or tell a story about a trip I went on. I would scaffold my language to meet the students need.

      I might tell them the same story 2 times. 1st time, to help them appreciate the story as a form of entertainment. 2nd time, to focus on several words/ patterns which would be the words above. I would have them listen sound them out, and write them.

      After I enriched the context through a story, I would isolate the words to give them more meaning. I would plan tasks/activities/process that resemble how the words are use in language.Example: Get on / off – I might have them quickly draw a track with several point where they could get on or off depending on the parameters i (or a flash card) has given them. I would manage the time per activity to maintain a conducive pace.

      I would quickly retell my story then have the students retell their own story (interleaving the completed tasks). I would include some patterns on the board.

      It would be fun to complete a skit/ role play to consolidate the objectives.
      I may bridge this activity to different modes of transportation (planes, buses, taxis) throughout the module.

      • #8063

        I like the initial use of a story to introduce a familiar/personal situation in which the vocabulary items might occur. Especially with kids and beginners but even with more advanced students in EFL contexts like yours where opportunities to encounter English may be limited, it’s good to help student ‘tune into English’ at the beginning of class.

        It’s natural for learners to focus on communication and meaning first, so having a 2nd retelling for language focus makes sense. With kids, I’ve found flashcard games (cooperative as well as competitive) whilst listening to stories can be a good way to do this, e.g. listening to a story and putting the pictures in order. With older kids and up, dictogloss can work well, here, too (e.g. https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/dictogloss).

        I like your sequence of activities, too, as it allows for plenty of recycling.

        For roleplays/skits, how do you like to get all your students involved, especially if they seem shyer or a bit reluctant?

      • #8822

        Rhett Burton

        Role Plays / Story Play
        I like the idea of having young learners role-play using the same mechanisms that they use when they are playing alone: to project their vision of the context and character narratives through the tasks and activities. Watching children play with language through puppets. It is beneficial to break the task down into manageable bits. Private playtime and manageable tasks will help provide the confidence that reluctant speakers might have.

        When I properly instruct, model, and apply graded language to the activities, I can slowly build the students’ abilities to manipulate language to achieve their desired results. Note: I may have different responses when discussing different aims and objectives at various stages of the activity and course progress.

        Acknowledgement – I haven’t been doing these activities as much as I want.

    • #8633

      Naoko Amano

      I would like to do group work project.

      First,  I ask students where do they want to visit in summer vacation. They share their idea and talk about the way to get there.

      Then, I will give them some destination and they will talk in group how to get to there.

      Before they do the project, I will show an example with introducing  new vocabularies. They will use them as I introduced.

      • #9426

        Beverly Anne Suarez

        I like the idea of connecting them to real life experiences like summer vacation destinations they want to go to. This will make it more personal and would make the students be more involved.

    • #9291

      scott gray

      At an intermediate level, I would first tell a story of my own that contained all the vocabulary I was targetting and then ask some questions to check their comprehension, after checking if they would ask questions about any words they didn’t know on their own. Then I would have a similar short story, more of a targeted cloze exercise, without those words. Depending upon how low intermediate I might write some words on the board. Then go over the answers together and noting differences that were acceptable and trying to elicit the targeted vocabulary without my help if possible. Then time permitting I would have them try to write their own version of the story using those words.

    • #9366

      I really like the idea of having a 2nd, similar short story with a targetted cloze. Would you do this as a listening and/or reading task? Like yourself, I also encourage and discuss other ‘acceptable’ answers.

      Then having a 3rd linked activity to write their own story reminds me of Paul Nation’s linked skills activities for fluency development, which I’ve included in a short article here if you or anyone else is interested:


      The progression from input (listening and reading to the story) to output (writing) usually works well with my students, too 🙂

    • #9369

      Scott and everyone – sorry the reply wasn’t threaded. We’re looking into it.

    • #9389

      scott gray

      Hi Phil,

      Yeah, basically where I picked up the idea from Nation’s book, What should every EFL teacher know. I went to his presentation at Temple University in Osaka when it first came out and he was really warm and open. Any alterations are from my mis-taking it from his reading and his presentations.

      Mostly writing but sometimes add speaking in a Read-Think-Write dictation style with one partner saying there version of the close while their partner looks at them and listens. Then they fill out the cloze and check with the partner’s correcting or writing any differences in another color. They can also discuss if there were any changes if those would be acceptable or not. Then trade places and do it again.


      • #9419

        Indeed, Paul Nation’s highly personable and a real gent. We’re really fortunate to have had him visit Japan so often.

        Thanks for sharing that cloze dictation activity! I often do running dictation and adding a cloze adds a nice extra element with opportunities for more discussion between students.

    • #9421

      Jessica Sohn

      For an intermediate class, I also would start telling them a short story using the topic vocab words. Using pictures with the story so they can have an easier understanding with the targeted words. Then, I would get the class into small groups and make them do a little skit using the words! I would make them write about their favorite place since it’s related to transportation. (I would give them an example for the skit.) So I would extend it to a speaking activity.

      • #9436

        Using pictures with your story is another good idea! I also like your idea of getting students to incorporate the new words into skits and writing, thus covering all 4 language skills.

        With your students, which usually works better – (a) writing before doing a related speaking activity, or (b) speaking then writing?

    • #9425

      Beverly Anne Suarez

      For this, I think I would ask help from other teachers or those who can speak the language to help me make a role play and use the words as much as we could in the skit. I would make it either funny or ridiculous so that it can elicit a reaction from the students, which will then start a conversation. Through that, we can use the vocabulary in a way that they will have to use it again and again.

      • #9437

        Working with another teacher to make a role-play or skit is a great idea. Is the other teacher in class and/or would you record these?

        Creating funny skits that are memorable and offer talking points are great, too. By the way, I watched the ‘Purple Submarine’ video you made with Eric for your students online and it was full of funny moments and jokes! Keep up the good stuff!

    • #9448

      Rhett Burton

      I have previously posted about using – get on/off, coach, return trip, rest stop, express, make a reservation, overnight.

      This time, I will adapt my approach to practicing new words via my current teaching context. My students have had very limited exposure to English in a formal setting.
      My students, at the start, will only be able to negotiate in English using their working memory. They won’t be able to use structures that they have committed to more permanent long-term memory.

      For this reason, I break language down in small chunks between 0 to 5 words.
      0 words = sounds and body language only. I do use TPR as a tool.

      I motivate the learners to engage in the task/activities by teaching to the senses and making the experience enjoyable by staging (breaking down) the task into small learnable chunks that can be kept in working memory. My primary goal is to scaffold the students’ interactional language so they can transfer what they know to are doing through English expression.

      Since working memory has a limited capacity, I would slowly transition from the focus on one word/or form to the next.
      I want to note that a primary goal of mine when teaching new vocabulary is to use ideas/concepts/tasks that are age-appropriate (Piaget). Also, the more rapport I have, the betters I can personalize my interactions with the students.

      I like to circle around the language used to teach the target vocabulary by personalizing the language for my students. I use their names. I give them roles. I ask them to perform tasks. I keep them busy in the moment using comprehensible input/output and feedback loop. My young learners can follow and participate because everything is very transactional (me and then you ).

      Here is a video about TPR and using circling for story telling.

      • #9451

        Thanks for sharing all that, Rhett!

        Just one thing I was quite clear about is what you mean by, “<span style=”color: #121617; font-family: ‘Open Sans’, ‘Helvetica Neue’, sans-serif; font-size: 15px;”>They won’t be able to use structures that they have committed to more permanent long-term memory.”

        Here’s another helpful in-class teacher training video on TPR from Cambridge University Press ELT: https://youtu.be/bkMQXFOqyQA



    • #9453

      If you’re teaching kids, including online, check out these tips and examples of using TPR:

      • #14819

        Rhett Burton

        I like how she is exceptionally versed in the TPR processes. Very fluent. I like how she demonstrates the power of by comparing her made-up language with and without TPR. TPR makes things much more comprehensive. I like TPR for young learners, but I start to ween kids off and lean towards subtasks and procedural language. Get a pencil = students get a pencil. There is an action. Thanks for the video. She is very animated.


    • #9764

      Masatoshi Shoji

      <em style=”font-family: ‘Open Sans’; font-size: 15px;”>get on/off, coach, return trip, rest stop, express, make a reservation, overnight.

      I’ll ask them to write an itinerary by using the above words.

      • #9769

        That’s an interesting idea. In addition to writing an itinerary, what other linked activities could you use to practice them?

        Feel free to check out the other ideas shared already and remember to comment on one or two of them.

    • #14820

      Rhett Burton

      I do a lot of exercises, activities, and tasks that align with the keyword.
      Here is a quick 5-minute video talking about how I leverage memory games to elicit the desired language.
      I find that learning through play provides a context-rich experience for my young learners with lots of input, output, and meaningful feedback. Games, like memory, allow me to drill a lot of functional languages in a fun way.

      • #14825

        I love how you consider your young learners’ feelings that are positively associated with stories, songs, and games with a balance of familiar and new language plus a range of functions in context and consideration for the rich opportunities for emergent language that naturally arises from the interactions.

        A couple of questions (possibly leading into suggestions in our next tutorial):

        • To what extent is your knowledge of the students’ L1 (Korean), essential to identifying the emergent language they need?
        • When students use language independently, how do you help them to distinguish see vs look or address any confusion, e.g. I look a bear. A bear is seeing me.
        • In what ways do you use the can do statements besides highlighting lesson aims/goals for the teacher and, for example, to track student achievement or generate progress reports for parents?
    • #16317

      Aiden HANAE

      I would like to give my students a situation and roll play it with each other, like buying a ticket and making a reservation. I think it would be better for the students if I could give a few options for them to refer to, like place names, situations (like if it was just to have dinner, you might not need to stay overnight), and ticket prices (which isn’t relevant to the six vocabulary that you gave, but I hope that it can give context to the narrative, which then can help them remember the words).

      • #16322

        Role-play is an excellent way to provide opportunities to use new words and offer important context. Giving students place names, ticket prices and other relevant information to make the role-play work well is important, too. (We look at this in more depth in Module 4 of the 140-hour TESOL Certificate course, and develop our techniques to implement role play more effectively in communicative classes.)

    • #16463

      Ketlyn Leva

      I would tell them my experience and then create a fill in the blanks with sentences related to it using the TL. After that, I would ask them to get the keywords and put them in order to tell their personal stories to a partner. As a wrap-up, I would ask the group if they heard any interesting/funny or tragic story, and I’d also encourage sts to tell what they heard from their partners.

      • #16467

        David Booton

        I like the idea of using fill in the blanks, also an info gap fill could be used as a follow-up to solidify language and increase communication before moving onto a role-play where they would use the language to plan a trip somewhere.

      • #16468

        Ketlyn Leva

        A role-play sounds great! 🙂

      • #16471

        I really like how you incorporate experiences and/or stories from you as well as the students, which invariably makes things more relevant and meaningful. Plus fill in the blanks is good to focus on the TL and written form. Last but not least, the reporting stage adds purpose to listening to each other, builds in another opportunity to use the target language whilst also challenging students to transpose the language into 3rd person and possibly past tense.

        I also like the possible addition/alternative of an info gap as a communicative task. Do you have a brief example, Dave, of what you had in mind?

        Role-plays (with characters) or simulations (without characters) are also great application activities/tasks.

        By the way – I can see you both flying out of the blocks with your answers already! Love it!

      • #16477

        David Booton

        The info gap I had in mind for this particular task was for a travel itinerary were they would work with a partner to fill out all the information, and this information gathering would help scaffold for the final task of actually making an itinerary.  They would need to determine where and when they were going, etc.

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