Published 7th March 2018

Learning vocabulary is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for learners of any language. Even if you have a good grasp of grammar, you always need vocabulary to be able to communicate your ideas and intentions. Plus, vocabulary is essential to be able to understand the language being spoken to you.

The problem is, there are thousands and thousands of words in a language and the challenge of learning them can seem terribly daunting. As English as a foreign language teachers it is up to us to make this task as doable as possible and maintain their motivation levels at the same time.

Here are 3 ways to maximise vocabulary learning in the EFL classroom:

Build on what they know

When dealing with vocabulary, find out what they know already and add to that foundation of knowledge. For example, if you are teaching adjectives of personality, elicit any that they might be familiar with. Once you have a set of known adjectives, link the new vocabulary to these words so that there is a bridge between the known vocabulary and the new vocabulary. So if the students suggest kind, add generous as a synonym. This link makes the vocabulary more memorable.

Let them teach each other

It’s no secret that our students can learn from each other. Often our students are able to explain a word or concept better than we can because they understand each other and are on the same page in terms of language learning. Use this to help them learn vocabulary items better. Allocate words to different students and give them time to look them up and make sure they understand what they mean and how to use them. Then split them into buzz groups and let them teach each other the new words. The novelty of the situation will also add to the learning experience.

Revision revision revision

Revision is a must in any language learning classroom. We cannot expect our learners to be revising vocabulary items on their own outside the classroom. If they are – bonus! but it’s not likely that they are being exposed to or are using the language as much as necessary to make a difference to their learning. Rather, it is up to us as teachers to ensure we incorporate as many revision activities as possible into our lessons.

Of course, as teachers we cannot learn for our students but we can come up with ways to help our students learn more effectively. Especially when it comes to learning vocabulary, our students need all the help they can get and these are three ways you can do just that.