Teaching Vocabulary in the ESL Classroom and the Importance of Recycling Vocabulary Lists

Vocabulary Notebook (Flickr Photo by StreetFly JZ)

Make Your Own Vocabulary Notebook! (Flickr Photo by StreetFly JZ)

Teaching new vocabulary words in the ESL classroom is a challenge for many new teachers. It’s easy to assume that students will learn and remember a new word once it’s been taught, but the truth is that students need to hear these words in context over and over again before they will start to remember it. It’s a fact that students will forget new words if they don’t hear the words on a regular basis.

Here are some tips for teaching vocabulary and for helping your students to remember them:

1. Spend a few minutes at the beginning or end of each class by reviewing new vocabulary. Encourage your students to create new sentences or ask them to try and remember how you’ve used the word in previous classes.
2. Make vocabulary cards for each word. Flash a few cards during each class and give points to the students that are able to give a definition for the word or use the word properly. You can even teach synonyms and antonyms to each word for even more learning.
3. Ask your students to create their own vocabulary cards. Tell them to use their cards to study when they’re on the bus or waiting in line.
4. Make a vocabulary board for your classroom. Post 3-4 new vocabulary words on the board each week.
5. Don’t forget about vocabulary that you’ve taught in previous months! Revisit and recycle those old word lists to help students remember.

There are hundreds of different ways to get creative with your vocabulary lists in class, so don’t just use the same old tried and true techniques. Think of new ways to introduce vocabulary into your classroom and have some fun with your students!

We’d love to hear from you! If you have any great ideas or activities for teaching vocabulary that you’d like to share, please leave a comment on our blog or send your ideas to Carrie@ReachToTeachRecruiting.com.

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