ESL Teaching and Learning Tips
Recent research regarding vocabulary acquisition has shown that our method of teaching vocabulary in "sets" is outdated and often counter-productive. Teaching colors is a prime example of this. The research has shown that we should instead introduce new vocabulary with an awareness of frequency.
Staying with the example of colors: "orange" is the color that has the highest frequency of use; therefore, it should be the color that is introduced first. By trying to teach all the colors at the same time we are in a sense imposing the concept of rote learning on our students and thereby raising the possibility of mistakes being made and increasing the amount of time it takes for such vocabulary to become a permanent part of the student's lexicon.
On the other hand, Fish makes an excellent point in suggesting that the colors be introduced in a variety of contexts, as this has also been shown by recent research to be a necessary aspect of vocabulary acquisition. In fact, it has been shown that, generally speaking, more complex vocabulary needs to be processed in a variety of contexts between 16 and 20 times.
A good example of the confusion that teaching in sets can create can be found in the results of teaching the days of the week in such a way. How often do second language learners confuse Tuesday and Thursday?
I think though that your post was asking a broader question and in that regard I would suggest that you teach that age group with a realization that there is a logical sequence to language learning. Therefore, sequencing within a communicative framework should be your goal. Simple dialogues - authentic and personal, work well. Also, I would suggest that you do a little research on "dialogue building;" students respond very well to a participatory learning environment - meaning less lecturing on your part and more group activities.