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3 Steps for Teaching ESL Vocabulary Effectively

3 Steps for Teaching ESL Vocabulary Effectively | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Words are an essential part of the structure of English sentences. If we want to speak English as a foreign language, we need to know new words and even progress. Considering a student who needs to know and learn new words as a teacher, we have to answer this question "What impressive ways do you have in teaching ESL vocabulary?"

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Yasemin A. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

To effectively acquire new ESL vocabulary, students must go through four essential stages:

First, they notice a new word with help;Secondly, they recognize the name at first with help,then later on their own;and lastly, they can both identify and produce the story.When we introduce or give new Words to students, we have to allow them to put these words to use.There are several unique ways to teach ESL vocabulary to learners.

1. Noticing and understanding new words

Introducing nouns, things, objects, animals, etc.

Visual elements work best with concrete nouns. But we do not just use flashcards and illustrations. We should real objects, sounds, smell, and tastes whenever possible. It is essential that appeal the students' sense.

Introducing adjectives

Opposites, like "big" and "small," "long" and "short," soft and "rough" adjectives are usually illustrated with pictures, but we can use real-life objects such as ball, stick, sponge, wood…

Introducing abstracts

There are things we cannot teach with a flashcard. What works best in these cases are synonyms, definitions, substitutions, or merely placing students within a given context. Maybe we make them understand by having a live show.

2. Recognizing new words


Bingo is one of the most versatile games employed by ESL teachers. For younger learners, make bingo cards with illustrations and call out each word. We can do the opposite, make the cards with words for those who can read, then draw the flashcards from a bag. We can make cards with the definition for teens or adult learners, call out the words, or vice versa.


This exercise is countless possibilities. Students match opposites, synonyms, or a word with its definition, as well as a picture to a word.*Fill in the blanks (with options)This is a written text, which is anything from a description, song, letter to even a short story with blank spaces that must be filled in from a list of words.It can be longer texts and also longer word lists.

3. Producing ESL vocabulary


There are countless different things, from a recent trip to a photo students describe while putting new ESL vocabulary to use. These things can be a photo in the magazine or a trip they went on.

Fill in the blanks (no options)

This is a written text with blank spaces that have to be filled in with any word that fits. Each slot can be like "noun", "adjective," or "adverb."

Mind maps or brainstorming

Brainstorming is the random generation of ideas based on a topic. Brainstorming can encourage learners to think more freely and creatively than if they were doing a more controlled planning exercise.

Guess what I'm thinking

The game is one of the most useful and fun for learners language games. It's also called 20 Questions, the Yes or No Game, or Guess what I'm thinking of.It lets students practice asking and answering questions. It also reminds them of so much that they already know, both the names of things and the categories they fit into.If we want to speak about different things like shopping, a house with new words this way can be the better.

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