Tips for Teaching Vocabulary

Join a global community of over 200,000 TEFL teachers working throughout the world! Enrol me!

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?

International Volunteer’s Day

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

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.

Translation

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.

Get Social

Follow us on social networks, join our newsletter - get the latest news and early discounts

Sign up to our newsletter

Follow us on social networks, sign up to our e-newsletters – get the latest news and early discounts

Accreditation Partners

The TEFL Academy was the world’s first TEFL course provider to receive official recognition from government regulated awarding bodies in both the USA and UK. This means when you graduate you’ll hold a globally recognised Level 3 (120hr) Certificate or Level 5 (168hr) Diploma, meaning you can find work anywhere and apply for jobs immediately.

Product added to your cart

You have added to your cart:

Request call back

    Please leave your details below and one of our TEFL experts will get back to you ASAP:

    captcha Type characters on the left:

    Would you like us to update you on TEFL opportunities, jobs and related products & services?

    Yes, keep me updatedNo, but thanks anyway!

    Thank you! Your message has been sent!

    Download the TEFL World Factbook

      Please enter your details in order to download the latest TEFL World Factbook.

      Would you like us to update you on TEFL opportunities, jobs and related products & services?

      Yes, keep me updatedNo, but thanks anyway!

      Thank you for downloading the TEFL World Factbook!


      If the TEFL World Factbook did not download
      > Click Here To Download <

      Download the Online Teaching Guide

        Please enter your details in order to download our Online Teaching Guide.

        Would you like us to update you on TEFL opportunities, jobs and related products & services?

        Yes, keep me updatedNo, but thanks anyway!

        Thank you for downloading our Online Teaching Guide!


        If the Online Teaching Guide did not download
        > Click Here To Download <

        Download Prospectus

          Please enter your details in order to download our latest prospectus.

          Would you like us to update you on TEFL opportunities, jobs and related products & services?

          Yes, keep me updatedNo, but thanks anyway!

          Thank you for downloading our prospectus!


          We hope you enjoy reading our prospectus, we have tried to make it as useful as possible! Please get in touch if you have any questions.


          If the prospectus did not download automatically
          > Click Here To Download <

          $
          $