5 EASY STEPS TO VOCABULARY LEARNING IN THE EFL CLASSROOM

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Our poor learners! Learning a language is not easy. Learners need to learn the rules of the language, the pronunciation of the language and the usage of the language, but surely what must be the most difficult aspect of language to get your head around is the vocabulary. The sheer amount of words and word families that a learner needs to know to be able to understand and use the language effectively is enough to put anyone off learning a language, yet it is a necessary evil to be able to speak more than the very basics of any language.

Our job as a TEFL teacher then is to try and help our learners with this task as much as we can. Of course, we cannot learn for our students – teaching doesn’t naturally equate to learning – but we can do what we can to help our EFL learners notice a word, understand it, understand how to use it and then be able to use it appropriately in real-time.

Here are 5 simple steps you can take to help your learners in this mammoth task of learning English vocabulary:

Step 1: Put it in context

The first step is to put the word in context. Think of three to five contexts where you would naturally find the language and show these contexts to your learners. In other words, show your learners dialogues or scenarios which include the word.

Step 2: Give them some time

Now, step back and let them do the hard work – give the learners some time to think for themselves. They can study the dialogues and focus on understanding the meaning of the word, the grammar of the word and the usage of the word. They can compare their thoughts in pairs to come up with as many ideas as possible.

Step 3: Clarification

Now you can step in the limelight again. Open the discussion to the whole class and make sure everyone is in agreement on the intricacies of the word. This is your chance to clarify any questions and ensure complete comprehension. This is also the time to ask concept check questions to make sure there are no misunderstandings.

Step 4: Focus on F(M)P

At this stage it is a good idea to focus on the form and pronunciation. Usually this stage would include a discussion on meaning but you would have done that in the previous step. Now you need to discuss the spelling of the word and how it is used. Finally, you would focus on the pronunciation and do any necessary drilling activities.

Step 5: Revise revise, revise

The final step won’t take place immediately. Rather, it is something you will need to implement on a regular basis. Because there are so many words to learn, we cannot expect learners to be able to spout a new word in a conversation five minutes after they have first laid eyes on it. Instead, we need to make sure this word is brought to their attention a number of times over the next few days.

There are numerous activities and games that can be played to revise vocabulary and it is best that revision is done regularly and often. Have a look into spaced repetition to give you a better idea of how best to do this.

There you have it. While we can’t learn vocabulary for our students, we can guide them to learning by showing them appropriate learning strategies and instigating time for revision. If you regularly implement these five steps, your learners will soon surprise you by using the language you are dealing with in the classroom.

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