Vocabulary plays vital role in language learning. It supports the four essential language skills, reading, speaking, listening and writing. This fact is basically recognized in terms of quantity. Word-lists in textbooks tend to be rather long. Teachers spend lots of time on explanations and definitions.
However, the key question is to find ways how to make the learning of vocabulary useful, appropriate and engaging.
The main statement of this article is that it is of utmost importance to be familiar with various aids and approaches to learning new words.
Multiple studies confirm this idea. Different methods of representing new words were researched by scientists.
Here are some ways of how new words can be taught in the classroom:
Teacher’s explanations and students’ “recording”
It is recommended to begin with a story or explanation of the term. The explanation should be followed by modeling how the word is used in everyday life. Sample sentences and conversations may be helpful to students. It is also important to encourage learners to put the new information into their own words. This process, which helps a teacher make sure students understand the word, is called “recoding”. Students’ autonomy is an important motivator. In this case it may be supported by engaging students in conversation using the term (e. g., putting them in small groups and letting them discuss new vocabulary).
Graphic representation of the word
Using pictures and diagrams helps students to remember vocabulary. To my opinion, drawing any pictures that would help to memorize new words is a very useful and enjoyable student activity. Word trees and word forks are good ways of learning associated words together. Bubble networks can be used in teaching phrasal verbs. Tables and charts help students clarify collocations (words that are commonly associated).
Learning new words from texts, videos and audios
It is important to encourage students to read and listen to a foreign language as much as they can. Inferring meaning of new words from context is a part of discovery (inductive) learning. It is more natural and makes new words memorable.
Learning vocabulary through texts also teaches students to use dictionaries and organize personal vocabulary notebooks.
Playing games with the words
According to my experience, using Scrabble, crosswords and other games in the classroom reinforces learning. Games help actively process new words in many ways.
Since the Internet plays a significant role in the lives of people, teachers can definitely benefit from using it in their foreign language classes; when planning lessons, constructing tasks and creating games. Modern technologies allow teachers make visually attractive flashcards and use them in exercises of various types (drag & drop exercises, matching games, filling the gap, etc.).
To conclude, in the classroom with limited time available, it is still crucial to meet learners’ individual needs. Effective vocabulary instruction is not just giving students a word-list. It requires teacher’s creativity and ability to find most relevant techniques of teaching vocabulary.