Personal Experience of Teaching Vocabulary to EFL Students
I have decided to choose the title "Teaching Vocabulary" as my short experience as an English teacher has been primarily about teaching vocabulary to young learners in a Primary school in Italy. Therefore, this summative task will be aimed at a group of children between the ages of 6 and 9.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Alex V. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
What did I observe?
I have noticed many peculiarities which I instinctively did as the TEFL course instructed, however, I have also noticed mistakes which I have made and alternatives which the course provided.
When it came to selecting vocabulary there was not much input from my part as I had a course syllabus to follow and the vocabulary which I had to teach had already been selected and highlighted by my supervisor. As the course mentions, I found myself using many visual aids such as pictures and drawings which helped the students understand better the vocabulary and made my teaching a lot simpler. Usually, thanks to these visual aids, the students would try and guess themselves the meaning of the new vocabulary, imprinting it better into their brain. This gave a good guessing chance to those students who might not have been as good in English as some of the other students were.
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During the engage part of the lesson I think that the students could focus on phonetics as this would get them talking and straight away involved in the lesson. Usually, this would end up involving visual aids and also some language in their native tongue to not put them off for the rest of the class.
The study activity would usually involve crosswords, word searches, etc. as many young learners see this as a game and challenge and it gets them concentrated as their competitive spirit to succeed comes into play. However, this could end up in people getting jealous and copying. I feel that it is the teacher's responsibility to step in and help that student who is finding the study activity more challenging than others.
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The activate part of the lesson I believe would often involve group activities, from role-playing games to drawings. A game which I usually found successful would involve splitting the class into two teams and have them compete in an invented game by the teacher at the blackboard. I believe this mainly because it gets kids out of their seat and I can remember that being a kid I would love exercises which made me move. Also, having done a study activity previously, getting out of their seats is seen as a prize by kids and makes them behave well during the more boring study activity if the knowledge that they can move afterward.
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I think that more than one activate phase can be performed whilst teaching vocabulary, following a boomerang type of lesson. There are so many fun games that can be performed to learn vocabulary, for example, battleships, creating posters, etc. A more specific example: draw your dream house using the new vocabulary learned in class. This stimulates the imaginative side of kids, which is so wild and fascinating at a young age, and they end up having a good time as they together come up with their ideal house.
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