Sunday, 3 February 2019

The Power of Words

Why Teach Vocabulary?

By the time a native speaker is 5 years old, they will have amassed a word bank of about 5000 words 

and they will be building on that word bank daily. But:

1)  Do learners have the same word bank for any of  the other languages that they are trying to learn

2) Is it important that they have such a wide range of  vocabulary at their disposal?

Well, it is difficult to have the same range of vocabulary as they are not exposed to the second language
as much, but we, as teachers, should try to find a way of giving them as wide a vocabulary range as
possible. Some might question why we would attempt to teach new English words when perhaps our 
students aren’t always fluent and accurate with the vocabulary they already know. Well, the answer is
simple – Vocabulary is their Communication Tool Box.

                                              Vocabulary is our Communication Tool Box                                                  .

The word bank in our head is a tool we have instant access to. This word bank helps us communicate
better. If we wanted to fix something we would need the right tools for the task at hand in order to get
the job done properly and in an efficient manner. Having a wide range of vocabulary works in the same

3 Good Reasons for Teaching Vocabulary

Having a good vocabulary base means that:

                                                   Nothing will ever be as daunting again.                                                 

     1. Learners become better communicators - knowing more words allows a learner to choose
          their words more precisely and so can express themselves better.

     2. They are better empowered academically - the more words at their disposal, the better skilled  
         they become at reading. This, in turn, will increase their motivation to read in the target language. 
         the more they read, the more they learn, and the more they learn, the more they will achieve.
         Therefore, in the long run, improving their vocabulary will increase their chance of success.

     3. Life in general will become more enjoyable - Whether it's browsing the Internet, reading for 
         pleasure, listening to music, watching TV or travelling that they enjoy, nothing will ever seem as
         daunting again.

Now that we have looked at the importance and the benefits of improving vocabulary, here are a
number of strategies for teaching it. 

10 Effective Tips for Teaching Vocabulary

    1. 1.Set realistic goals.

    2.     Learning vocabulary is a process and involves much more than simply memorising the definition 
          of a word, so don’t overload your learners. In other words, keep your vocabulary lists to a 

    1. 2.Choose wisely.

      Students will come across many new words. Some words are used more frequently than others;
      some words are academic while others are technical. Focus on the words which are most relevant
      to their needs.

    1. 3.Encourage them to read.

    2. Reading exposes students to new words and more importantly it exposes them to words in context.
      Even ten minutes of reading a day can make a world of difference. Introduce your language 
      learners to sites such as, where they can find short 10 minute authentic
      reading material ranging from newspapers, magazines and English books.
    3. 4.Create autonomy.

    4.     Explain to your students that memorising long lists of words is not the most effective method to 
          learn new words. Encourage them to think the words through and to try to understand them in 
          context. Motivate them to take the time to look up any new words in a dictionary to ensure they
          have grasped the right meaning. There are plenty of useful resources and online dictionaries; 
          The free dictionary is one I would recommend.

    1. 5.Avoid teaching words in isolation. 

    2.     A single word could have a number of meanings when used alone. However, in conjunction with 
          other words, the meaning changes. Consider the word give. Its primary definition is to pass or 
          hand something to someone as in the example I gave the book to John, but does it have the same 
          meaning in the sentence Her job gives her a lot of satisfaction or in the sentence Don’t give in so 
        6.Teach in chunks.

        We hardly ever communicate using single words. For this reason, it’s important that learners notice
         the pattern that words are used in as well as any words that they collocate with. Consider the 
         phrase heavy rain and strong wind. In both phrases we mean that there is a lot of rain and a lot of
         wind, but we can never say strong rain or heavy wind. The site or the 
         Sentence Rephraser available from Ginger are two great tools that can help them explore language chunking
         and collocations. Ensure your students record, review and use any phrases they generate.

    1. 7.Take advantage of the free online tools.

    2.     Sites such as and offer a wide variety of engaging word games. Encourage 
          your students to take a few minutes out of their hectic schedule and to find time to relax with a 
          game of Just Words or Word Battle. Make sure they choose a resource which best suits their 
          learning style and English Language level.

    1. 8.Use and reuse.

    2.     You will need to expose learners to the same word a few times before they can start using it 
           effectively. Try to use the new vocabulary in different situations. The more they use a word, the
           longer they will retain it. Help them find ways of recording their newly acquired vocabulary and 
           encourage them to review often. is a brilliant tool that allows students to both 
           browse and create their own word list. Stress the importance of incorporating any new language
           in their day to day lives as much as possible.

    1. 9.Actively process words.

    2.     Create word charts and hang them around the classroom. Encourage your students to record words
          that are new to them on these charts. If they are hanging in your classroom, your students will 
          automatically scan the charts from time to time. This will subconsciously help them process the 
          words. Change the charts on a weekly basis and use games such as Call my Bluff to review words 
          at the end of the week. It will not only make learning vocabulary fun, but will also end the week 
          on a positive note.

  1.   10.Make it memorable.

  2.       When we look back on our lives, it’s often the things we enjoyed doing most that come to mind
          first. Motivate your students by making vocabulary learning and new word acquisition fun and 
          enjoyable. Try using sites such as Free Rice to give that extra bit of motivation.

No comments:

Post a Comment