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Texas ISD School Guide
Texas ISD School Guide

Lessons & Classroom Games for Teachers

How to Connect Words with ESL Exercises
By:Lane Cummings

ESL refers to English as a second language. An average ESL lesson consists of presenting the grammar, vocabulary or other language point of the day, checking student understanding of it, and writing it on the board. Controlled practice of that language point usually immediately follows, as well as free practice, which consists of students in pairs or groups, using the language point in conversation. Connecting ESL vocabulary words with exercises refers to the ability of students to correctly use new words in tasks like sentence completion and matching columns.

Teach new words in groups. For example, if teaching vocabulary of things found in the home, teach students words in groups pertaining to each room. For example, spend one lesson teaching students words related to the bathroom, such as toilet, mirror, shower, mat and towels. Draw a web diagram connecting all the words.

Use simple explanations to explain what each word means. Choose your words carefully, using words that students will later find on their exercise sheets.

Follow each new word by showing students a large color picture of the item to reinforce their understanding. Have the class repeat together as you hold the picture up.

Teach words in opposite pairs. For example, if you're going to teach students groups of positive words such as peace, love or happiness, you should follow each word with its opposite, such as war, hate and sadness. Draw two columns so that students can clearly see the pairs of words. Follow each word with a photo that will help students remember the concept.

Give students the exercise sheets. Leave the web diagrams up so that students can more easily make connections. If students get really stuck, show them a photograph of the word.

Put students into pairs to check each other's work. Then check work together as a class.

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