Tips for Teaching Vocabulary
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If you think about it, learning vocabulary is one of the most daunting aspects of learning a language. It is commonly believed that there are over a million words in the English language. How on earth do you even begin to learn them? What’s more, learning a word is not as easy as just learning a word. It’s necessary to learn the spelling and pronunciation, the meaning, connotation, register, related word families and collocations. Plus, it’s impossible to learn a new word on just one introduction to the word; repetition and revision are needed regularly to ensure the word moves from short-term memory to long-term memory. In this piece we are going to some great tips for teaching vocabulary.
How can we, as teachers, make learning vocabulary a bit easier for our learners?
Repetition, repetition, repetition
Repetition, repetition, repetition. It takes a few “meetings” with a word to make the word stick in our minds, and then even more to make it useful to us in our production. Focussing on new vocabulary in a reading or a listening exercise is good, but make sure you spend some time on revising these words. Often teachers feel they have to introduce new language into every lesson, but sometimes it’s useful to spend a lesson reviewing past lessons.
Don’t overload the students
Don’t overload the students. When teaching vocabulary, there is so much useful language it is tempting to give all related words to your students at the same time. Resist the temptation. This will only fill up the students’ vocabulary books and freak them out and they will probably never look at all those words again. Rather be selective and choose no more than 7 or 8 words or phrases that you think are particularly useful.
Be picky. Following on from the last point, it may be necessary for you to curtail your students’ enthusiasm for vocabulary. Vocabulary may seem like the easy option in terms of learning a language because it’s simply studying, and it can be a lot simpler than say, the third conditional, and so students often feel the need to record every single new word they come across. Then they will want you to explain in detail what every single one of those words mean. This is exhausting and pointless. There is no way they will remember all those words in the way they need to be remembered. It’s necessary, then, to help your students understand that it is ok not to dwell on an unknown word and this is actually a trick of a good language learner. It’s a difficult lesson to learn but will save them time and energy.
Different Ways to Introduce and Explain the Words
Use the other senses. When teaching words, think of different ways to introduce and explain the words. Think about images, mnemonic devices, touch. Using the different senses to relate to a word will make it more memorable.
Translate. Don’t be afraid of translation. Sometimes it is the easiest and most direct way to teach. It is useful if a word is very simple (cat) but also if a word is more complex (ironic). Of course this means that you need to be able to translate the word so as to be sure that it is being translated correctly, but if in doubt ask the student to tell you the meaning in English, just to be sure.
Learning vocabulary is a long process and it can be extremely challenging for students. Spending some time showing your students good ways to learn vocabulary and what they should and shouldn’t be doing is a good investment. We hope that these tips for teaching vocabulary help you in your teaching journey.
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LAST UPDATED: 27th August 2021
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Everything TEFL Ltd
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If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
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You have the right to object to the Everything TEFL Ltd processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the Everything TEFL Ltd has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, Everything TEFL Ltd is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the Everything TEFL Ltd.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to Everything TEFL Ltd, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
Everything TEFL Ltd
28 – 32 Pembroke Street,
Republic of Ireland
Telephone: +353 (1) 554 6227
Email: [email protected]
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.