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How To Teach Vocabulary to Your ESL Students?

Updated on August 17, 2012

What is vocabulary?

Vocabulary is many words to different learners. It is a set of words learn through time, age and constant reading and studying. For teachers, vocabulary is introduce in such a way that is easy for students to comprehend the language. Teaching vocabulary is easy as long as the teacher is using different method to introduce the words or the set of words in fun and stimulating way.

Why vocabulary is important in learning English language?

The main reason why ESL students need to know or learn vocabulary as many as they can is that, for them to understand the spoken or written text. Studies have shown that the more students know the words, it is easy for them to express and understand the language. Reading comprehension and vocabulary knowledge are correlated. Students would respond to the text accordingly as they comprehend the language.

Independent learners are interested more in expanding their vocabulary through reading and writing. If the students are exposed primarily to the language, vocabulary is very easy for them.

What is the ideal number of vocabulary to teach?

The average learner learns about 3,000 words per year. The ideal number of vocabulary a student should learn each day is 6-8 words. More than that, it is unlikely be remembered.

Ways to teach vocabulary

When an ESL teacher teach vocabulary to students, following the constructed lesson plan is ideal. Teacher's lesson plan should include these important points:

  • 7-8 vocabulary words and its definition.
  • Its context and how it is used.
  • At the end of the lesson, students should know or learn to use the words.

Now, every teachers has different method on how to teach vocabulary. No matter what strategies and methods the teacher is using, there is only one definite goal to meet--students should know how and when to use the words.

Note: Do not simply introduce the words and let students memorize the definition, create an activity that students would enjoy, which is related to the new words being introduced.

Another way to teach vocabulary is let students process the words through:

  • students will know how to use the words in creating a sentence.
  • producing antonyms and synonyms in order for students to remember the words.
  • encourage students to write their own definitions of the words.
  • let students write or site an example of any situations related to the words.

Play a game.

Organizing a game that is related to the group of words being introduced is always a great method to teach vocabulary. Active play is an stimulating activity. Students would likely to remember the words associated with the activity. There are many word games that you can incorporate throughout. Puzzles, Taboo, hot seat, and other vocabulary activity are few to mention word games out there.


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