Usually, when we teach our students new words, our approach is to define the word, then have the student pronounce the word and use it in a sentence. Having students work with new words from many angles will help them actively engage in the new material. Here are some ideas for getting the most out of the vocabulary presented in class.
1. Define it: What does it mean?
2. Listen to it: How many syllables does it have? What does it rhyme with? What other words does it sound like?
3. Say it: Are there any tricky sounds? How do the teeth, lips, tongue and mouth move when making the word’s sounds? What about air flow and vibration?
4. Trace it: How do you draw the letters of the word? Can you write the word with your finger?
5. Spell it: What are the letters in the word? Do you say all of the letters that you see?
6. Visualize it: Close your eyes. How many letters does the word have? What’s the first letter? What’s the last letter? What does the word make you think of?
7. Analyze it: What part of speech is it? Does it have a root word? Does it belong to a family of words? What other words does it look like?
8. Personalize it: What does the word mean to you? Can you describe someone or something you know with the word? When is the last time you heard, saw or used the word? Do you like the word?
9. Associate it: Where do you think you’ll hear the word? Is the word often used with another word or in a phrase? Are there other words that mean the same thing?
10. Categorize it: How is this word different from similar words? Is it more formal or informal? Do either men or women use the word more? Do certain age groups use the word more than others?
11. Generate: Write a sentence with it. Use it in a role-play. Write a story and make this word part of the first sentence.
Adapted from Pearson Longman English Language Teaching Newsletter – August 2010.