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Secrets of Effectively Teaching Core Vocabulary

Secrets of Effectively Teaching Core Vocabulary | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Being an English teacher, teaching skills are very important. The quality of learning result depends on many factors, but the teacher's methods are the essential elements for learners' learning progress, motivation, enthusiasm, etc. to help them have the best result in studying English. I will concentrate on "How to teach vocabulary effectively".

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

The Role of Vocabulary in Communication

It can't be denied that the learning outcomes mainly depend on the effort of each learner, but the mission of each teacher is no less important. Vocabulary is one of the most important factors for learners, those who study foreign languages. If you have good pronunciation, use good grammar, you will still have difficulty in communicating in English with no vocabulary resources. There are many methods that the teachers can apply to teach a new language, but the technique I like the most from our TESOL online course is "straight arrow".

male teacher writing on blackboard

Also Read: What is the TEFL TESOL Diploma course?


Engage is the first step when the teacher will give in advance some pictures, information, drawings, videos, short reading texts, headlines, real objects, etc. which relevant to new words they are about to learn. There are many interesting activities for the teachers to warm the class's atmosphere up in this first step. The teachers should get the students thinking and speaking in English as much as possible.

Delivering New Means of Communication

The study is the next step in which students have opportunities to interact by new vocabularies that they were given a background in the Engage phase. The teachers need to elicit some information from the students first, which would form the basis of the board work. Word families can be offered if they are necessary for the lesson. Using PowerPoint to present new words on the screen, or choose a popular song with plain words can also help the lesson more attractive and effective. Besides, the teachers have to check students' pronunciation, spelling, the meaning of the words clearly with some of the activities or drilling some exercises.

Also Read: "Challenges of EFL Teaching in Barbados and Japan"

Practicing Acquired Linguistic Devices

Last but not least, Activate is the last step of "straight narrow" technique". The students have a chance to apply what they learned in reality by using new vocabularies to describe their real life. The teacher should encourage the students to use their English as freely and communicative as possible. New vocabularies can be practiced through a dialogue that is related to the lesson's topic. Also, writing a paragraph using all new words is an effective way to remember what they learned.

Other Ways to Teach

Besides “straight arrow” methods, there are also some more methods that need to be considered to build serious linguistic muscles. The method of Visual Learning plays a big role to step away from more humdrum methods and spice up the classroom. The materials which are suitable for this method are flashcards, glue sticks, scissors so that the teacher can create some activities flexibly to present a few new words, then let the students discuss the definition and usage of each. At the end of this phase, the teacher shows some examples and let the students develop their skills of using the words.

Another effective method is to Attach Context to Vocabulary which the teacher will help their students to connect with new words in a more meaningful way. There are many strategies such as group words using context and show how vocabulary words work together in sentences, paragraphs, stories or video clips. The students have to use those new words in their own stories and present them in front of the class to build confidence and have them learn that vocabulary once and for all.

asian teacher

Also Read: "How Learning Another Language Can Benefit Your Career Prospects"

Build Confidence with Word Clusters is another exceptional and effective way to keep building vocabulary comprehension. Word clusters map out relationships between words and students need to identify which words are closely related and draw it all out. After warming the class through some activities to have the student point out the new words, the teacher needs to let the cluster creation begin. Each student pair will have a blank sheet of paper or a blank template, then they will write the word in the center of the blank paper which they hear from the teacher. The students must try to get as many words linked via lines to the core words as possible before time runs out. They will get one mark for each word. If the word is spelled correctly, another mark will be given. The teacher has to ensure to encourage communication and collaboration between all the students. The classroom should be quiet during this activity.

The most important method which helps to boost the students’ confidence, communication and comprehension are Let Your Students’ Voices Be Heard. Creating many opportunities for your students to practice their new vocabularies out loud will help to develop proper pronunciation of their new words. Moreover, hearing the students use the new words will allow the teacher to make exactly pronunciation fixes while still building momentum with an activity.

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In conclusion, each teacher has each teaching method. There are no permanent techniques that force them to follow. The most important element is that the teachers have to flexibly make use of what they learned from their study to help the learners have the best result as possible.

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