Top 5 Ways of Teaching Vocabulary to Students

Do you find new vocabulary magically falling out of the back of your students’ heads as soon as they leave your classroom?  If you teach your students lots of fresh new words in your TEFL lessons, mentioning them in subsequent classes is a must, otherwise they’ll soon forget what they mean.  Below are five enjoyable activities to use in your lesson plans while teaching English abroad to ensure you teaching vocabulary to students is effective and working.

Activity 1: Fly Swatter game

First, separate the board into two halves and write the vocabulary in big words on the board – make sure they are spaced out well.  The next step is to divide your TEFL class into two teams and choose one person from each team to come to the front. Give them a fly squatter (you could use something similar or get them to use their hands).

Point to/mime/describe/draw the vocabulary and get the students to hit the correct word.  The first student to do this wins a point for their team.  Then ask another two students to come up to the front for a new word. If at any time both students don’t know the word, save the word for later and use a different one.

Activity 2: Word Pot

Write words that you have mentioned in prior lessons on pieces of card.  At the beginning of every lesson get a student to come up to the front of the classroom and pick a word out of the pot and describe what it means to the rest of the class.  The person who guesses the word first wins a point for their team.

Tip: You could get a student to come to the front and pick out a word from the pot then he/she has to choose a student to describe what the word means.

Activity 3: Bingo!

Create cards with loads of different words written on, make different variations of the cards and hand them out to each student.  In each lesson you could start with a game of ‘Bingo’ and describe a word . If the student has the correct word they can mark it off their card.

Tip: This could either be an ongoing activity or as part of one of your lessons plans. You could create cards for different topics.

Activity 4: Hot Seat

Split the students up into groups of 4/5. Place one of the students sat with their back to the board while the others face the board. You can draw or write a word on the board and get the students to describe what’s on the board to help the student not facing the board guess what the word is.

Tip: You can adapt this game for higher level students by writing a number of TABOO WORDs on the board. For example if a teacher shows the students a flash card of say ‘a teacher’, the taboo words that students cannot say, could be ‘school’ and ‘student’. This forces the students to find other ways of describing the word.

Activity 5: Word Association

This activity is amazing as you can use it with large classes and limited resources. Get it started by writing a word on the board, and then get your students to say the first word that pops up in their head which has a relation to the word on the board. It’s a good idea to go around the class getting each student to give a word. If a student can’t come up with a word, this is the perfect opportunity to go over the meaning.

Tip: There are so many different variations you could use for this game. For example, for higher level students you could divide your class into a few teams and give them each two words such as ‘football’ and ‘lace’ and you have to find a way of connecting the words together e.g.-Football-Kick-Foot-Shoe-Lace.

What activities have you used to get your students’ vocabulary to stick? Share your tips on teaching vocabulary to students!

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