6 Ways to Revise Vocabulary with ESL Students
by Anna Sawa
Teaching ESL students, apart from presenting and practicing new vocabulary, it is vital to revise it. The best way to commit new words and expressions to long-term memory is coming frequently back to well-known material. For instance, ESL teacher can introduce word games or the learners can read or listen again the texts have been studied before.
There are several useful and enjoyable revision techniques worth presenting here:
This technique can be helpful in revising written or spoken language. The teacher gives a key word and the learners list their associations. For example, a key word can be ‘food’ and associations: cheese, tasty, to eat, bread, dinner etc. It can be used to revise vocabulary from a particular unit, text or topic area.
Another type of the technique is when the teacher gives the first word, a learner mentions his association and then this word becomes a key word for the next learner. For instance: water – to swim – a swimming pool – a lifeguard – a beach – holiday – summer – green - eyes etc.
2. Three of a kind
In this technique ESL students give three nouns related to a topic word given by the teacher such as ‘animal’ (e.g. a cat, a dog, a hamster) , ‘job’ (e.g. a pilot, a nurse, a teacher), ‘fruit’ (e.g. an apple, a pear, a plum)etc. There can be more than three words related depend on the level of the learners e.g. “Six of a kind”.
3. Odd one out
ESL teacher gives four words and there is one among them that does not fit the rest. For, example, there are given words such as June, April, Monday, January – the word should be out is Monday that is not a month. It is also possible to ask the learner to explain why he/she choose the word as the odd one out.
This technique stimulates visual memory of ESL students. There are two types of this game. In the first version, one piece of paper features a word in English and the other has a picture on it. In the second version, on separate cards there is a word in English and a word in a mother tongue to match. The task is to find a pair: a word in English and its picture equivalent or the same word in L1.
On the Teacher's Zone website you cam find some examples of memory games:
5. Throwing and catching
You can use his technique to revise the sequence of words (e.g. numbers, months, days of the week). The teacher needs a ball or a soft toy. He/she says the first number / month / day and throws the ball to a learner. After catching the ball the student is supposed to say the next number / month / day, and throw the ball to another student. It is also possible to give words in reverse order – from the last to the first.
This technique is useful if you want to revise several vocabulary groups. The only thing you need to do the task is a piece of paper and a pencil for each student or a group of students. Click here to get to know how to play the game.
Besides special techniques to revise vocabulary, it is also a good idea to come back to known lexical material during introducing new grammar structures. The more you revise the vocabulary has been taught, the better your students will remember it. They will able to use it fluently whenever it is necessary.