Sunday, March 25, 2012

Teaching difficult vocabulary items

Most of the words our young pupils have to learn are relatively easy, but some of them may present quite a challenge! Like, for instance,'' trousers'' or ''wardrobe'' that are not even remotely similar to any Spanish words. So, how can we go about it in order to help the kids assimilate these words?

These are some of the ways I employ in my classroom.

1. Personalise!

When the ''clothes'' topic comes up, I always say that ''trousers'' is my very favourite word. And I keep repeating it. Children love to know stuff about their teachers and as it draws their attention, it becomes easier to remember the word. After some time, when I ask what my favourite word is almost everybody identifies it as ''trousers''!

2. Repeat in a fun way!

Repeating the words in various ways is also pretty effective. You can whisper them and make the kids do it, too, you can sing, shout, draw them in the air - whatever that makes it memorable!

3. Word of the week!

When I had to teach ''wardrobe'' I pinned it into our English corner as a ''word of the week'' and I referred to it as often as I could.

4. Print the words out and put them on the wall.

I always put the most important words on the wall and I highlight the most difficult ones. Sometimes I even asked my students to decorate the most complicated words.

5.Funny gestures

You can also ask the kids to think of a funny gesture to associate with the word you're teaching. Then, you tell them that each time you (or them!) make this gesture, the first person to say the word out loud, wins a point.

6. Rhyme.

Some time ago, I had to teach the word ''straight'' (as in ''I've got straight hair'') and I couldn't think of any fun way to do it. Then, it struck me: it rhymes with ''eight''! So, I draw an ''eight'' with ''straight hair'' on the board in a really funny way and I said: ''Hey, it's an eight and, look, its hair is straight!'' The kids loved the rhyme and they memorised it immediately.

7. See, smell and feel

I very often bring real objects to my classroom. For example, I always bring vegetables and fruit and I let the kids use all their senses to remember what they are called. They first see, then smell and feel them. It works especially well with the items that kids are not normally familiar with (e.g. an avocado, a grapefruit,etc)

To sum it up, it's all about making the difficult word memorable.
Good luck!

1 comment:

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