Tips for Teaching Vocabulary

Pupils can find learning new vocabulary tedious and not much fun! The following ideas help reinforce the regular use of new vocabulary and therefore, pupils ability to retain and use it.

  • Games such as ‘vocabulary block’ and the ‘feelings ball’ (See below for more information on these)
  • Mime: you can mime out emotions and activities to help teach new words.
  • Synonyms: build on words the pupils already recognise to help teach the new word.
  • Antonyms: likewise explore antonyms using words or phrases familiar to students.
  • Drawing: for some students, this can be a fun way to explain new vocabulary and more visual and hands-on.
  • Real objects: where possible, use a real item to teach new vocabulary. E.g. use a boat model when teaching ocean/pirate adventure vocabulary. Or even explore other senses of sound, taste and smells!
  • Mind maps/ brainstorming: Ask pupils to describe a topic such as ‘the beach’. Encourage the use of previously taught vocabulary.
  • Cater to different learning styles: Use music, real objects where possible, games etc.
  • Practice using the activities mentioned below.
Boat models used for teaching pirate adventure vocabulary

Games you can play to reinforce new vocabulary

1.Vocabulary Block

  1. Make a block using cardboard/ use empty milk cartons etc. and cover with clear contact paper. (You can cover with coloured paper first if wished like below)
  2. Stick a strip of masking tape on each side of the block and write recently taught vocabulary words.
  3. The pupils can toss the block around the room, reading the word that is face-up when they catch the block. They give the meaning of the word and put it into a sentence before tossing the block away.
  4. By using the masking tape and contact paper, it is easy to use the same carton repeatedly with new vocabulary.
Vocabulary Block

2. Feelings Ball activity to practise and reinforce new ‘emotion’ vocabulary

You could use a ‘feelings ball’ to practice and reinforce new ‘emotion’ vocabulary. Use a simple beach ball with different coloured segments as in the photo. Write an emotion word in each segment. As the pupils toss the ball to each other and catch it, they have to think of another suitable emotion word to match the emotion written on the segment of the ball in front of them. It’s a fun way for pupils to reinforce and practise their vocabulary!

class 2014 003
Feelings Ball

What ideas do you use as a teacher in the classroom to help pupils retain new vocabulary?

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