Teaching Vocabulary to Lower Level Learners

The New American Horizons organization is a wealth of resources for ESL teachers. They have multiple videos for ESL teachers that demonstrate teaching techniques and tips. Today we’re going to focus on vocabulary instruction for lower level students. There is a link to a video included in this post at the bottom of the page.

Some key points from the video:

TPR is a great way to introduce vocabulary! Why? It includes multiple skills and senses, such as watching, touching, speaking, and listening.

Teach the vocabulary in context.

  • Begin with explicit instruction.
  • Recycle the vocabulary through diverse activities.
  • Use the vocabulary in new ways.
  • Connect the new vocabulary to real life.

Questions that come up during the lesson.

  • If they are related to the current lesson, then deal with them at that moment.
  • If they are not related to the subject, address them later. (For unrelated questions, I usually have a “parking lot” list for things to address after the lesson.)

Classroom routines are important to support learning. Use the same games and activities for each lesson.  Students focus on vocabulary practice rather than learning a new game.  Use these activities to assess learning and where the gaps are. For example, students might be able to identify a word on the page, but can they spell it, or actually use the word?

Examples from the video:

  • Bingo-play first with pictures to associate the sound/picture relationship, and then next, with words.
  • Spelling activity-teacher dictates, students listen and use letter tiles to spell the word
  • Line up activities (by alphabetical order, birth date, etc.

Use the different activities to assess learning and where the gaps in learning are.  For example, the students may be able to identify a word, but can they spell it, or use it?  Watch this video for more details!

http://www.newamericanhorizons.org/training-videos

 

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