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Teaching vocabulary to ESL children

by Anna Sawa

Teaching  some new vocabulary to children you have to be sure that they will be  able to use them properly. At first new items need to be introduced.  Then it is necessary to give ESL children lots of possibilities to  practise vocabulary. And finally, do not forget about consolidation of  the knowledge by frequent revision.

Teach vocabulary to ESL kids

Introducing vocabulary
Presentation  new vocabulary should be attractive enough to catch children’s  attention. It is a good idea to use lots of visuals such as real  objects, drawings, illustrations or flashcards. The simplest way is to  shoe the object and repeat the name several times. To spice the  presentation up you can use a magic box or say the new words in  different way (ex. quietly, loudly, with exaggerated voice, fast or  slowly). It is also necessary to use the new vocabulary in context to  show students how the words work in sentences. What is important,  sentences included new vocabulary should be as short and simple as  possible and new items should be emphasised.

Practising vocabulary
At  the stage of practising vocabulary children are those who should be  more active than a teacher. It is an opportunity to put new vocabulary  into practise and learn how to use them correctly. There is a wide range  of techniques for practising vocabulary. All types of flashcards activities  can be helpful, for example ‘What’s missing?’ or matching words to  pictures. Some other fun and effective activities are guessing or miming  games, picture dictation, board games, Bingo, Domino, Memory games or  Chinese whisper. All kinds of sorting and classifying activities can be  also involving and valuable. Play and games in the primary classroom is a funny way to teach a foreign language to children. They provide meaningful context and students’ motivation.

Teaching techniques - ESL children

Consolidating vocabulary
Consolidating  vocabulary is essential for effective teaching because children forget  almost as quickly as they learn new things. ESL kids can create their  own picture dictionaries, minibooks, collages or comics. They can make  posters of word families or vocabulary cards. Some students will  be  interested in reading stories or taking part in mini school plays. It is  also a good idea aryto play over and over again in children’s favourite  games.

To  teach ESL children new words and how to use them properly none of the  three stages cannot be omitted. New vocabulary needs to be introduced,  practised and consolidated, then we can be sure that new items have been  taught and learnt properly.
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