Published 7th January 2019

vocabulary boxes

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Sometimes it’s the simple things that are the most effective. A simple box can be used for so many different things in the EFL classroom. A box can be used for storage, as part of a game, or as a prop. One of the uses for boxes in the classroom is as vocabulary boxes.

What is a vocabulary box?

A vocabulary box is a box with pieces of paper in it. The box can be a shoe box or any box. It can be plain, covered in newspaper or wrapped in pretty paper. The pieces of paper can be paper or card, but shouldn’t be too big. The pieces of paper must be two-sided.

During or after a vocabulary lesson (or any lesson which involved new vocabulary) the teacher can write one vocabulary item on each piece of paper. On the one side the word is written and on the other the definition.

Vocabulary cards can be added to the box whenever necessary. They can then be used as a means of revision. The cards can be written by the students instead of the teacher if the students are capable and this will add an extra level to their revision.

Activities for  vocabulary boxes

  • Testing: Hand out the cards to students who are grouped in pairs. Students use the cards to test each other. Either one reads the vocabulary word and the other must provide the definition or one must read the definition and the other must give the word.
  • Categorisation: Students can categorise the cards into parts of speech or lexical sets. This can be done in teams or as a whole class activity.
  • Revision games: Having a vocabulary box means that you have quick access to appropriate words for word games. Whether it’s Taboo, Twenty Questions, Hangman or Pictionary, you no longer need to try to remember all the words you’ve done with a class – just pick from the box! Plus it allows the students to take charge of the games themselves.

Vocabulary boxes work really well if they are used regularly. Your students will become familiar with the activities and you won’t need to spend time explaining them every time. Revision should be a regular activity in the classroom to support the learning process. Having vocabulary boxes makes doing revision quick and easy with no preparation required. If you ever have a few extra minutes at the end of a lesson,  vocabulary boxes will have everything you need to fill up the time.