I have been teaching an extra class everyday on vocabulary for lower-intermediate students. At first, I absolutely blanked on what to teach because vocabulary is so extensive! But then I finally decided to do a course on “real-life” vocabulary. I want to show students vocabulary used in natural speech by looking at blogs, songs, magazines and even Facebook and Twitter pages. That way, students aren’t limited to just “textbook” material and they get to see how native English speakers play with the language in different writing styles and words. Plus, it’s much more interesting than reverting the usual ESL resources like the Oxford Picture Dictionary (not that it’s ineffective). So far, I’ve shown them two of my favourite blogs: 1000 Awesome Things and Hyperbole and a Half.
Basically, I take a post and I underline ten vocabulary words that are new to the students. I begin class by giving them a discussion question (e.g. What are you most terrified of?) and do a Think Pair Share. I had previously cut up the words and definitions and mixed them up and I have students match the words to their correct definitions. You would think that it would be quite difficult for them to match completely new words to different definitions, but you’d be surprised how well they can do it! I was very glad that matched them up correctly. There were a few that were out of place, but having them work in groups helps a lot because they can work it out together. Yay for inductive activities!
Today, I had them read this post in their groups. I quickly learned from a previous lesson not to give them too extensive of a text – it takes away from their talking time, which is crucial in a language class. So today’s post was much shorter and therefore easier for them to grasp since they had just learned ten words in that very post. After discussing the post together, I have them write two of the new words in a vocab chart. This further drills the words into their heads because they get to look not only the meaning, but the synonyms and antonyms as well! And if we do 2 words per day, they would know 10 words very well by the end of the week!
I like to use the last 15 minutes of class for them to discuss questions in their small groups. Each question includes one of the 10 vocabulary words we’ve looked at that day. For example, if the word was squish, my question would be “If there was a bug in your house, do you prefer to squish it or to set it free?” So in total, I would have about 10 questions for them to talk about. It’s great to get them to think about using these words in conversation!
In other news…
I start volunteering with a local school starting next week! I will be doing guided reading with a student twice a week and I’m very excited to start! It’s been so long since I got to read with children, it’s one of the things I’ve missed from student teaching in elementary. I will let you know how it goes!