Vocabulary Boxes in the EFL Classroom
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Sometimes it’s the simple things that are the most effective.
If you’re a parent or a caregiver, you probably know this is especially true when it comes to children. Sometimes we spend so much time and money looking for the perfect toy or activity when there is a perfectly good free option right in front of our eyes.
Take, for example, a box. A simple box can be so many different things: a house, a canvas, a car – you name it, a box can be it. Big or small, brown or colourful – it really doesn’t matter because it can accomplish the same purpose regardless of what it looks like. And you can probably find a box lying around in your house without spending a penny.
The same can be said for the EFL classroom. We don’t always need to think of extravagant activities or games to teach language. Sometimes the simple things can be just as effective.
Which brings us back to the humble box.
Boxes can be just as useful in the EFL classroom. A box can be used for storage, as part of a game, or as a prop. There is no need to spend your money on plastic containers or Tupperware – there are probably a few paper boxes lying around the staff room that you can use for whichever purpose you need it.
And one of the most popular uses for boxes in the classroom is as vocabulary boxes.
Why are vocabulary boxes a good idea?
Words are the foundations of a language. As long as we have the vocabulary, we are able to communicate – even without grammar – but without vocabulary, we will have nothing to say. This is why learning vocabulary is important when learning a language, and consequently when we are teaching a language.
There are a number of effective strategies we can use when it comes to teaching and learning vocabulary.
Firstly, learners must see the vocabulary item in use in a natural context. They must understand the form of the word (how it is spelled), the meaning of the word, and its pronunciation. Then, they should write the word down. This can be in a vocabulary list or in a drawing – any way that suits the learner. Learners should further make associations with the word to help them remember it, use it numerous times in various contexts, and be tested on it.
Read more: Tips for Teaching Vocabulary
You might be aware that a speaker has two types of vocabulary knowledge: their passive vocabulary and their active vocabulary. Passive vocabulary is the vocabulary that you know and understand when you see or hear it but you don’t use it in your own language production. In contrast, your active vocabulary is the vocabulary that you understand and use. The aim of language learning is to move vocabulary items from our passive vocabulary to our active vocabulary.
In essence, vocabulary items need to be learned and used regularly in order to become part of a learner’s language. And this is where a vocabulary box comes in handy.
What is a vocabulary box?
A vocabulary box is a box with pieces of paper in it. The box can be a shoebox 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, an example sentence with the target language missing, or even a drawing.
This can be singular vocabulary words, like dinosaur or gigantic, phrases and expressions, like bookworm and beat around the bush, or even sayings, like actions, speak louder than words.
The cards can then be used as a means of revision. The cards are taken out of the box and given to students in pairs or groups. They can then do a range of activities with the cards which will help them revise the particular language on the cards.
Vocabulary cards can be added to the box whenever necessary – at the end of a lesson, at the end of each unit in a coursebook, at the end of the week, or at the end of the term. The cards can also be written by the students instead of the teacher if the students are capable. This will add an extra level to their revision as they are essentially studying when they are writing the cards, and this activity can be utilised as a regular revision strategy.
Read more: 3 Activities for Vocabulary Retention
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.
Read more: Our Favourite Vocabulary Games
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.
And all you need is a box!
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Rights concerning the processing of your personal information
- Right to restrict processing of personal information
- In some situations, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of your personal information. We may restrict your personal information by temporarily moving the information to another processing system, making the information unavailable to users, or temporarily removing published information from a website. We may also use technical methods to ensure the personal information is not subject to further processing and cannot be changed. When we have restricted processing of personal information, this will be clearly indicated on our systems.
- You can require us to restrict processing in the following circumstances:
- You are concerned that the information we hold about you is inaccurate. You can ask us to restrict the information until we can determine whether the information is accurate or inaccurate.
- We are processing your personal data unlawfully and you do not want us to delete the information but restrict it instead.
- We no longer need the information for the purposes for which we collected it, but they are needed by you for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.
- You have objected to the processing (see below), and we need to decide whether the legitimate grounds we have to process the information override your legitimate interests.
Processing you think is unlawful
- If you tell us that you think we are processing your personal information unlawfully, but you do not want the information to be erased, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of that information.
- We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the processing is unlawful, and may also ask that you provide evidence to support this view.
Processing of personal information you think is inaccurate
- You can tell us if you think the personal information we are processing about you is factually inaccurate. You can require us to restrict how we use your personal information until we can verify the accuracy of the information. We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the information is inaccurate, and may also ask that you provide some supporting evidence of the alleged inaccuracy.
- If we find that the personal information we are processing about you is inaccurate, we will take appropriate steps to correct the information.
Personal information is no longer needed by ELEARNING FUTURES LTD but needed by you in connection with a legal claim
- In most circumstances, we will securely delete or dispose of personal information when we no longer need it for our legitimate business purposes. Our approach to retention is outlined in our corporate retention schedules.
- However, if the personal information we no longer need would assist you in establishing, exercising or defending a legal claim, you can require us to keep the information for as long as necessary. We may ask you to provide an explanation and any available supporting evidence that a legal claim is ongoing or contemplated.
Right to erasure of personal data (“the right to be forgotten”)
In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that ELEARNING FUTURES LTD securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
- If the personal information we hold about you is no longer necessary for the purposes for which we originally collected it.
- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the ELEARNING FUTURES 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 ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, ELEARNING FUTURES 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 ELEARNING FUTURES 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 ELEARNING FUTURES 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
ELEARNING FUTURES LTD,
21-22 Old Steine,
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.