Lessons & Classroom Games for Teachers

Vocabulary Games for ESL Students
By:Randi McCreary

English as a Second Language students can acquire knowledge and understanding of the English language when they are immersed in its vocabulary. Providing different scenarios and activities for students to learn English is beneficial.

Word Sort
Word Sort is a strategy that allows the learner to arrange different words according to categories such as basic English vocabulary, parts of speech or common items. For example, a stack of cards can be labeled as English nouns and verbs. The objective would be for students to sort the cards into the two right categories. Students would encounter words like "stadium" or "police" and have to place them under the "noun" section. Another way to use Word Sort is to have the cards divided into vocabulary words that represent common items. For example, having different groups for household items would help students identify words that go in each section of a home.

Drawing Connections
A good way for students to make connections between a word and its meaning is to have them draw a representative sketch of the word. The representation does not have to be an exact drawing of the object. It could be a symbol that the learner can connect to the word for their own understanding. For example, if the learner is learning the word "budget," they might want to draw a piggy bank. When it is time for assessment, this will help with recall. The learner will be able to recall in their mind the association between the word and their drawing.

Forecast is a vocabulary strategy that is very similar to the game Hangman. The learner can use this strategy to review vocabulary in a fun and interesting way. The vocabulary word is placed on the board. The learner has the opportunity to guess a letter from the word or to receive a clue to help them come up with the answer. This routine continues until the word is revealed. This is also a great way to review the day before an assessment.

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