Survey Results: Your Go-to Vocabulary Activities

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In the last issue of the Link, we surveyed ITBE members about their favorite vocabulary activities. Here are some of the best suggestions:

Favorite Vocabulary Activities

  • Student-created flashcards on - With a basic free account, students can create their own flashcards, adding any information of their choice (part-of-speech, definition, sample sentence, etc), as well as inserting an image from the web. Flashcards can be shared easily with other students or the teacher. - Anonymous
  • I use the Brainscape website for out-of-class review and supplemental vocabulary activities. The website recycles vocabulary words that students feel less confident about more often than vocabulary words that students feel more confident about. - Anonymous
  • Studyblue vocabulary app allows students and teachers to make vocabulary flash cards that are accessible on a PC or on their smart phones. The app also includes a basic quizzing function to help them study. The app is also media-rich which allows teachers or students to post pictures and audio on the flash cards to help students visualize and hear the pronunciation of the words. The process of choosing pictures can enhance discussion about the real meaning of the words and because it's digital, picture choices are unlimited and the images are vivid. **Be careful with google searches. - Matthew Van Someren
  • Another activity is to create a half-crossword. In pairs, students receive a crossword with only 1/2 of the answers filled in (no clues are given) For example student A, receives all the down words and student B receives all the across words. Students must then explain the meanings of the words their partner needs to complete his/her puzzle. For example, A explains a word to B that is missing from B's puzzle. Students are not allowed to use gestures (unless you want them to), or the word/other word forms.
    To create this puzzle: 1) go to your favorite crossword puzzle maker2 ; 2) create the puzzle without clues; 3) print 2 copies of the solution; 4) whiteout all the down in one puzzle then all the across in the other. **Shared letters may remain in the puzzle; 5) Copy enough for each pair of students. For 10 students, 5 down and 5 across With a little practice, it gets easier to create. - Matthew Van Someren
  • I like "slapjack." Print out sets of vocabulary words so they are on approximately 2" x 2" cards. Place students into 3 or 4 per group. Put the vocabulary words on each group's table. As you read the definitions, students "slap" the matching vocabulary word. The first student to hit the correct card wins it. After all of the words are called, winners are those with the most cards. - Debbie Sternecky
  • Matching: Create a table with approximately 2"x2" cells. Add vocabulary words and definitions in separate cells and cut them apart. Divide students into pairs and have them match the words with their definitions. - Anonymous
  • Kahoot online games are free, very easy to make, and very engaging for students. After you create an account, under "create a new Kahoot," click "Quiz." Then add your vocabulary words and definitions in multiple-choice format. Each student or pair of students needs a computer to play. Students find this so fun and engaging that they forget they are learning! - Anonymous
  • Picture matching: Use Google image search to find pictures that might illustrate a word. Of course, this works best if you have access to a color printer, or you may just want to display the pictures with Power Point. Have students match each picture with a vocabulary word and write a sentence describing the picture, using the word. This works even with more advanced vocabulary, as long as you leave room for various interpretation. For example, a picture of a traffic jam with a lot of exhaust could elicit a multitude of key target words, such as "emit," "vehicles," "solution," etc. ("We need a solution to vehicles that emit harmful gases."). - Heather Torrie
  • Student-made vocabulary review activities: Students choose different words from their vocabulary lists. Each student creates original sentences with the vocabulary words and then substitutes the word with a blank. First, the teacher looks these over and addresses any confusions. Then, other students use the context to choose the correct word. I like this activity because it not only provides a review activity for vocabulary words but also prompts student awareness of context since they need to create this context in their sentences; it also helps them improve their skills with word form when choosing the right one for their sentences. - Katy Montgomery
Try one of these out this week in your classes and let us know how it worked. Or if you have other ideas, leave a comment.

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ITBE Link - Fall 2015 - Volume 43 Number 3