Home Forums iTDi TESOL Certificate A vocabulary lesson: Activity 7 A vocabulary lesson: Activity 7

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    • #6535


      Which of the four possible approaches in Activity 6 do you prefer?
      How could you improve them even more?

    • #6917

      I like to involve students wherever possible and start with what they know. So, the approach where the teacher elicits the vocabulary item with a picture prompt (or descriptive clue) is preferable for me.

      To improve, it can be helpful (if not essential) to include concept questions to check understanding and help avoid confusion. For example, I might ask learners about some of the differences between bus and coach. This also helps them to connect the new word to an easier, more frequent and familiar word.

    • #7221

      Steven Herder

      To be honest, I really struggle with prescribed vocabulary, meaning teaching a pre-determined list of vocabulary. I much prefer dealing with emergent vocabulary – words that students want to use but don’t know. Of course, the reason for this is that the words STICK much better from my experience.

      • #7999

        Whilst I’ve moved more towards emergent vocabulary, especially with smaller classes, there are two types of class that still leave me with room for thought.

        Firstly, the need for selecting vocabulary for ESP classes (especially with CLIL or CBI). For example, teaching medical students in Japan on a medical English course required them to learn prescribed medical vocabulary (no pun intended!). The learners don’t know what they need to know in order to make a differential diagnosis or explain basic medical procedures, etc. Another example was a Law & English in Practice course, for which they needed certain keywords and phrases to help them build and present arguments, offer supporting evidence, make counter-claims, etc. However, it was more flexible and the students were allowed to negotiate the topics of interest so topic-related vocabulary was more emergent.

        Second, large general English classes in Japan with 30+ students means that relying on emergent vocabulary in open class would likely mean contributions from the same core students who are generally more capable, confident, and comfortable volunteering. However, I might reconsider how I do this next time with vocabulary notebooks (which I’ve used successfully in the past) as tools for students to ‘collect’, share and learn useful, interesting, or memorable words and expressions.

    • #7910

      Barbara Bujtás

      Well, I hardly ever present vocabulary explicitly, like in the example. Usually there is some sort of input, I make sure that my learners know the key vocabulary of the given text input. I simply ask them if they know certain words and encourage them to ask. (Then keywords and words that students have chosen are collected in a list.)

      • #8000

        I like that you collect keywords from students in a list, giving visual confirmation. Connected to Steve’s points about learner errors in our first tutorial, it’s good to think about 3 things when we ask if students understand:

        a) Do students ask or tell us if they don’t know or understand? (Generally, this is more likely in smaller classes, and less likely in medium/large ones, but also depends on relationships, trust, context, and other variables)?

        b) When students tell us that they understand, how do we know if they think they understand but actually don’t understand or understand partially? And what can help us to address this?

    • #8046

      Rhett Burton

      I am sorry… but… Where is activity 6?

    • #8103

      Rhett Burton

      I like writing the key words on the board.
      To improve on it, I would decode the word by graphemes and maybe by syallbles too.
      I would also vary the pace (fast and slow).
      I would add more context and more Tarlget lanugage to paint a fuller picture of a ‘coach’.

      • #8105

        Writing key words (or getting students to write them) on the board is a good teaching practice, and personally, I liked it when teachers did this consistently. For example, one of my French teachers always wrote new incidental words down the left-hand side of the board and taught us to colour-code masculine vs feminine nouns.

        For young learners, I’ve also see some nice things, for example, colour coding letters to make patterns more visible. For example, writing the ‘at’ in blue for each of these with the first consonant in red: bat, cat, hat, mat, sat.

      • #8171

        Rhett Burton

        I have wanted to come up with a color coding scheme. I wasn’t successful so I bold the characters. I am not too sure if it is evident enough though.

    • #8532

      Naoko Amano

      I usually present vocabularies with pictures and written words because students can easily understand the meaning. Written words help them to know how to pronounce.   Then,  they practice the target phrases with those vocabularies.   As they repeat to use  new vocabularies through various of activities they can memories naturally.



    • #9290

      scott gray

      Lately, I have been using Quizlet to make a set of words with pictures that I can assign them to do before class and see if they have attempted or succeeded at them. It also has game versions that the students can play to beat others in the class or their own times. That way more reviewing in class than teaching. One way I do like to do is one Penny Ur showed in a class she did at iTDi where you write a collection of words on the board. Not related and various forms especially if introducing the vocabulary. You then give them about a minute to look at them. Then erase or hide them and have them write them in their notebooks. After a few minutes have them check with their peers. A group review afterward, eliciting from them words that I noticed many had troubles with from students who got it on their own or I have hinted at or even given the meaning to while walking around the groups seems to work well. Then through the rest of the lesson,I write down any of those words or new words on side of the board that they mistake or do not know to go over at the end of class.

      • #9414

        Using Quizlet before class sounds like a great plan. And that you for sharing and reminding me of that activity from Penny Ur’s course! I think I’ll revisit it myself, too! 🙂

        Do you make Quizlet scores part of a final grade?

        (My general policy is to grade students in multiple ways that reflect different components of the course and the amount of time/effort they put into their learning, as well as the outcomes.)

      • #9487

        scott gray

        I try to as a general rule. It sometimes get subsumed in just the general class participation section but I do let them know it affects their grade just sometimes with the shifting sands it doesn’t mean as much as I would like it to mean. A good point though is like in the TBLt course I try to make it more of feedback than assessment. The main goal is to get them to study more and use language more rather than to rank a student. So yes in some way I get it in their just it often has a murky flavor to how it is done.

        I also agree I should go back to Penny’s courses again. She is one of the few I have had the experience of even though I attended their webinar, seminar, or presentation the next time I review it I still find Aha moments or things I forgot I knew or did and want to become better afterwards. She also is one of the best I have found who makes you feel so involved even when it is a case of just mainly listening. I really appreciate all the ones I have taken with her and almost annually do short review to see what I have forgotten. Thanks iTDi for those great chances.


    • #9327

      Jessica Sohn

      I usually present words(written form) with pictures and involve a lot of my students into choral reading. I find it very effective with young students when using visual, speaking, and listening at the same time. And, I use the words in their reading text so they continuously get exposed with the new words. I think repetition is the key to memorizing.

      • #9416

        Like you and Scott (below), I agree with a multi-sensory approach (e.g. including Total Physical Response) for YLs as well as older learners wherever possible.

        Similarly, consider recycling essential, with (graded/levelled) readers and/or listening being particularly beneficial.

        One other key component to making things memorable is having a strong emotional/personal connection. Although this might be considered output, I often do this after or while concept-checking.

    • #9390

      scott gray

      Jessica, I agree that teaching young children repetition is really important. I also think that TPR for little kids, especially with verbs, is quite useful. The more senses they use the quicker they pick it up from my experience.

      • #9424

        Beverly Anne Suarez

        I agree that the more senses they use, the quicker they can pick up the words. I read something about learning before that if you are learning something and an emotion is involved in the learning process, the topic will stick with you more. I remember teaching projectile motion before and at the start of class, I threw a piece of chalk to the other side of the classroom. The class became very quiet, and then I said “That is what projectile motion is.”. I still have students who remember that lesson because of that incident.

      • #9438

        Indeed, you did something very unexpected with the chalk!

      • #9445

        scott gray

        Bev, that is great when you can get them emotionally the memory is stronger and as you know they remember that. Almost wish I could have been there as sounds like a great class.


    • #9423

      Beverly Anne Suarez

      The way I introduce new vocabulary words is through a chant using the words with a visual representation. That way, the students who doesn’t have that much experience with the language can participate as well. After that, the written form is introduced. I think for students, especially young learners, having the written form available the same time as a word is just introduced is challenging because they are still starting to learn reading. I also ask them to make their own gestures when doing the chants so that I know that they understood the meaning of the word.

      • #9439

        Chants are great and choral chants can allow shyer and/or less confident students a chance to participate with the group. However, what do teachers do if a student isn’t chanting?

        It’s good that you also consider the relative learning load for YLs to inform your decision when to introduce the written form.

    • #9440

      Bei – you’ve reminded me of all the great stuff done with jazz chants by Caroline Graham.

    • #9447

      Rhett Burton

      I like to present the spoken and written form together. I generate more spoken output than written output because of the ease of aural language. I also intentionally choose to promote a phonemic first approach. I do like using the written form to anchor the students’ attention. My young learners need to see how the aural sounds are represented by text. I want to note that I introduce all English sounds, but I focus the students’ attention mostly to letter sounds and short vowel blends. I slowly include more phonemes and graphemes as their awareness of the English language increases. I also anchor meaning through my body language and visuals too.

      As for meaning, I use pictures as visuals cues. Then, I try to make the vocabulary word meaningful by including it a task or activity that provides the students with the opportunity to define the meaning through the context of the task. I hide the repetition and practice of vocabulary in the process of doing the task.

      • #9450

        Thanks for adding that, Rhett. Do you use the IPA to promote a phonemic first approach?

        For anyone interested, you can find a chart with both BrE and AmE here: https://www.phonemicchart.com/

        For anyone interested to see how phonemes can be represented by the IPA as well as different graphemes (i.e. spelling), here as really useful chart: https://www.dyslexia-reading-well.com/44-phonemes-in-english.html It also includes 5 tips for Teaching Phonemic Awareness  from the book 50 Reading Strategies for K-8 Learners (Sage Publications):

        1. Analysis of phonemic awareness assessment data should drive instruction, as only a small percentage of students need explicit instruction (Ehri & Roberts, 2006).
        2. Phonemic awareness instruction should be a positive, enriching experience that allows students to engage in language play (Yopp, 1992).
        3. Effective phonemic awareness instruction provides for individual differences in abilities and uses leveled scaffolding to facilitate growth (McGee & Ukrainetz, 2009).
        4. Developmentally appropriate phonemic awareness instruction uses chants, poetry, songs, and rhymes to engage students’ curiosity about language and to develop metalinguistic awareness (Yopp & Yopp, 2000).
        5. Effective phonemic awareness instruction explicitly labels sounds and demonstrates the process of blending-segmenting of sounds (Ehri et al., 2001).
    • #9454

      Jessica Sohn

      Interesting clip!!!

    • #9763

      Masatoshi Shoji

      #1 eliciting is very important. However, time limitation must be considered as well.

      • #9768

        Like many teachers, you value eliciting but make a good point about time considerations. Class size may also be a factor to consider. Why do you prefer eliciting, by the way?

        Lastly, how might you improve on any of the 4 approaches presented in Activity 6?

    • #9459

      scott gray


      Have you seen this? Just writing short as comment disappeared before uploading so trying this first.

      • #10530

        Thank you for sharing. That’s excellent although the /i/ for silver pin sounded rather elongated to my ears.

    • #9458

      scott gray

      After watching Mrs. Graham’s presentation I would like to do more with chants. In my school where the classes are divided into different parts, I only had a few chances to try some chanting in the recitation class I covered when the teacher was absent. I will take a longer look at the sites Phil put up and just wondering if any of you have seen the Color vowel chart or used it? I have played a little with it in a very few classes but liked it although it seems would be much better when you have a more controlled schedule or classes versus the more one-shot lessons or covering others where I can’t know who or what I will be teaching until sometimes minutes before class.



      • #10531

        I think there are some good possibilities for setting up individual as well as independent pair/small-group work using this resource as a model.

    • #10553

      scott gray

      Yeah, giving them a number of words and having them sort them into which blocks is one I did with some small kids and small class in groups that was fun. Just haven’t had much time for it yet as the prep time is a bit more and as I usually don’t have those small size classes right now. Hopefully this year I will have a chance in a few classes.

    • #14817

      Rhett Burton

      I like to think about the syllabus and curriculum. I work within the parameters designed to repeat through themes, topics, situations in the content.

      I like to take the path of least resistance. I start with easier words and then slowly connect them to more advanced vocabulary.

      I use useful and practical words so that students understand how to produce them in the context we interact in.

      I like to be a content expert, so I can do provide student choices because I know that all roads will lead to the desired results

      Here is a 5-minute video explaining a bit more about how I use words in my content.

      • #14824

        Wow! That video offers a really great look into what you’re doing, Rhett. I like how you’ve carefully thought about the language progression through your levels 1-6. And I love how you use stories, songs, and a variety of practice activities across the 4 skills with extensions into the real world and connections to their lives.

        2 things I’m curious about:

        • How did you decide the phonics i, l, h, j, m, k?
        • When teaching writing, it’s typical to teach I am but in conversation, we mostly use I’m. How do you help reconcile this for your students?

        We’re greatly looking forward to seeing how your students experience these this year in your classes!

    • #16316

      Aiden HANAE

      I want my students to be involved, so I do like to ask and bring out answers from my students. However, I also think that a lot of my students like to know the written form, meaning and pronunciation TOLD to them, so I do think that is important too.

      After all, if they feel that’s the “proper way”, it isn’t worth fighting it… at least not all the time.

      • #16321

        Yes, I agree that getting students involved as much as possible is crucial

        Tell me Teach me Involve me

        And yes, we often need to consider student (and sometimes parent) expectations, although as teachers we can also shape those, too, and will increasingly do so with time and experience.

    • #16462

      Ketlyn Leva

      I believe what makes me choose a way of presenting vocabulary depends on the level of the student. Here, in Brazil, we do have a lot of people who only know hello and bye in English. Taking that into consideration, it is impossible to elicit anything. In these cases, I use images or realia depending on the students’ age or openness to such activity. However, if they have some background knowledge, I enjoy working with word cloud or a word web so that I check what they know and build up from there.

      For higher levels, I relish using language in context – in texts or videos. For revisiting, I use games.

      P.S.: About quizlet, I like using it for self-studying.

      • #16469

        It’s so true that we need to be flexible in our approach, methods, and techniques to cater for our students’ needs, abilities, and interests as well as the context, i.e. EFL for your students.

        Likewise, I find word clouds/webs are great. Do you use draw them or use any software (e.g. a teacher recently recommended Mentimeter, which I’m curious about, too for older teens and adults)?

      • #16473

        Ketlyn Leva

        There are some options of website to work with word cloud. Personally, I use poll everywhere. Here are 2 options for you .




    • #16466

      David Booton

      I tend to use a variety of flashcards (with the written form on the front), chants and TPR.  Which I use on any given day depends on difficulty of language, whether it is easy to TPR and the age of my students.

      • #16470

        Flashcards, chants, and TPR are great, especially with young learners. Do you have any further thoughts on using flashcards with words on the front vs back (or none at all)?

        (Incidentally, I also really like having double sets of flashcards as we move into practice activities and games.)

      • #16475

        David Booton

        I tend to use flashcards with the words on the front because they are a lot easier to make.  I made some with the words on the back yesterday just to try it out.  While the words were simple, they seemed to take more in.  But that may have also been due to the fact that they really enjoyed the TPR that went along with it.

      • #16474

        Ketlyn Leva

        I do love flashcards (with and without the word (TL)). With kids, I like playing memory game and variations of it (with fishing pole, for example). I enjoy using it as it is a way of working on concentration and also a way of providing speaking highly controlled practice (my sts turn the cards and they have to say what it is) which may help long-term memory. Besides that, it is also fun for my students to try to beat the teacher, you know?

      • #16476

        David Booton

        With my K3 class(5-6 year olds) concentration with flashcards is pretty great.  I also do bum-race, where they have to slid on the floor on their bum to find the correct card.

        David Paul, whose book I don’t remember the name of has a lot of games for kids in it.  Not all are great but some are fantastic that my students love.

      • #16481

        I’ll have to try bum race with my primary-aged kids – they’ll love it!

        David Paul’s book is Teaching English to Children in Asia (Pearson Longman) – lots of good stuff in there!

    • #16482

      scott gray

      I remember a quick review flashcard game used to play, What’s missing. Take a card or two from the pile and while the kids follow TPR directions walking around the table (hop, skip, turn around, jump, zombie walk, crawl…), the teacher starts spreading the flashcards slowly or quickly on the table, and when they can they say what card you didn’t put out then they can collect that card and keep playing till all cards are gone. If you have two sets can be like a face-up speed version of concentration. They have to find the one without a match. There is a really good set of cards picked up from a store in Kyoto from a guy who did a seminar on playing games. He had a number of German and foreign country games that I found useful for teaching, too. It has four animals of different colors on each card and another set of cards with one animal of a certain color on it. They flip the single animal of that color card over and search for the one card that does not have that animal or that color on it and they have to say the name of the color and the animal so it helps to build naturally (adjective-noun forms) in a fun game. You can adjust the level by having them say this card does not have a blue cat on it or doesn’t have a cat that is blue on it. Quite fun as looking for what is not there makes them look at all of the cards more carefully.  But just remembered these games that with high school kids I don’t get to use much anymore. Sorry to but in but quite fun.

    • #16483

      scott gray

      Sorry forgot to add that I also liked to use a set of cards with just written English on another set of cards while picture word cards, with or without English on them, depending on the level to do Karuta like slap games. Show the apple and they have to find the apple card spread on the table. Had some which had English on one side and either syllable spaced spelling or phonetically written out on back. This also made it easier for me to read card without looking at the front as could see word facing me. So if you have the space and time multiple sets are always great in my book.


      • #16489

        Yes, different types of flashcards definitely add to our options and serve different purposes.

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