How to Introduce New Vocabulary

How to introduce new vocabulary - teaching vocabulary ESLActivating Schema – Teaching Vocabulary

Activating schema is an essential part of introducing new vocabulary. In most cases, the majority of the vocabulary that your students end up using in a lesson comes directly from you and the materials you’ve chosen. Introducing vocabulary is usually best done in context. It’s not so effective to start a lesson by giving your students a list of 15 new words and having them read their definitions. At that early point, they haven’t activated their prior knowledge and they are not clearly seeing the purpose of the words. Instead, introduce the theme and get the students thinking about what they already know. In linguistic terms, we call this activating schemata (link), and it is a crucial early step. Start with a short discussion between pairs or groups, for example, that will elicit from students what they already know about the vocabulary in that scheme. In this way, you and the students know where they are and where they need to go. This is called diagnostic assessment, and it’s a necessary part of effective teaching.

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TESOL – Teaching Vocabulary

Teaching vocabulary TESOL blogMany students identify vocabulary as one of the main areas in which they want to see improvement. Many teachers, on the other hand, struggle with the challenge of helping students expand their vocabularies and maintain their active vocabulary bank. A strong vocabulary has a beneficial effect on all skill areas, and helping students improve in this area should be a priority for teachers.

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Teaching Vocabulary: Journals

When ESL learners are asked to discuss their weaknesses in English, many will mention “lack of vocabulary” as an important concern.  Contrary to what most students believe, a teacher cannot actually “teach” them new vocabulary.  A teacher can present and explain words from classroom activities, but the responsibility of actually learning new words lies mainly with the students.  Vocabulary journals are one popular approach that teachers use to help students with this challenging aspect of language learning.

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