Vocabulary is much more important than grammar. If you know the meaning of the words you can understand a text even without knowing the grammar. If you listen to a recording and you know the vocabulary, you will understand the meaning of the message.
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If you watch a video and understand the words, you can enjoy the film. However, if you know just the grammar you will not understand much. Therefore, we should devote a lot of classroom time to teaching vocabulary.
Unfortunately, most of us don´t spend much time teaching vocabulary. Many teachers of English assign vocabulary as homework and students have to learn the words at home. It is not an entirely bad method. My research shows that 50% of students actually learn the vocabulary on their own. The bad news is that the other half of students don´t do it. They do not learn the vocabulary and after a while they are completely lost. That´s why I think that we should teach vocabulary at school.
All the best experts on teaching vocabulary, like Paul Nation or Keith Folse, agree that the best way to teach foreign vocabulary is by using translation. It is the best way for our brain to remember the vocabulary. And in this post, I would like to share with you two methods I have been using to teach vocabulary in my classes. Both of the methods are very effective.
Teaching vocabulary – Remembering Tables
In the tables on the left, the words are given in both English (in bold letter) and in MT (in this case in Czech). On the right, the tables contain only the Czech words.
At the beginning, read the words in the first table and ask the students to repeat them. Then give the students 20 seconds to study and memorise the words. After this time, they should cover the table and write the words into the table on the right. When they have finished, they uncover the table and check their answers. You go on like this with the rest of the tables, giving the students 30, 40 and 45 seconds respectively.
It is a great classroom activity, but the preparation is a nightmare. To simplify it, I asked a friend to make a word macro which would do all the work for me. And here is the result:
Download the file. Then create a text file which contains 16 lines – use Notepad for this. On each line there is the word in English the plus sign and the word in the students’ mother tongue (e.g. work+pracovat). Save the file. Then open the downloaded macro. It asks you to Select Text File Containing Words. Click SELECT and choose the txt file you have created. And bingo, your tables are finished and you just print them.
Teaching vocabulary – vocabulary books
How did we achieve this? I prepared the following vocabulary books for them.
I printed this as a brochure and then I made small books out of it. I handed them out and I asked the students to complete the tables in their free time during my lessons. In the tables with the free lines, students should copy the English words twice and the Czech translation once.
In the other tables, students have to translate the words. If the word is in English, they translate it into their MT and if the word is in their MT they translate it into English (this is 3 times as frequent as the former translation).
The preparation took some time, but the results were fantastic. Try it out and you will see for yourself.
For ESL students and pupils in Great Britain, India, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries, it is crucial to learn the parts of speech in English. In fact, this knowledge is very useful for EFL learners too, as it helps them get more information from dictionaries and grammar books. And as this topic is not difficult, it is worth spending a few minutes on it.
[showmyads] In this post there is a wonderful song by Fluency MC, an infographic and several games which will help you master the parts of speech. So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead!!!
Parts of Speech – song
Parts of Speech – infographic
If you want to download the full picture, click the button:
Parts of speech – games
Let’s start with a quiz which will help your students practise the parts of speech either at school or at home. The quiz consists of two parts. In the first part, students should match the words and the names of the parts of speech. In the second part, students have to write the name of the parts of the speech behind the words. The students will be rewarded with a game after each part of the quiz they pass. The quiz is in HTML5, so it will play on all desktops and mobile devices.
[showmyadsa] The second game is called Fling the Teacher. To win the game, you have to answer all the questions by choosing the correct answer. If you answer all the questions correctly you will fling your teacher. (But I am sure, that he/she will not mind as long as you know all the parts of speech 🙂 ). The game is in Flash and it will only play on desktop computers.
To practise the parts of speech you can play the following game. Its name is En Garde. Your task is to choose the correct answer and then stop the target as close to the centre as possible. Hopefully, you will be faster and more accurate then your opponent. The game is in Flash and will play only on desktops:
The last game is called Penalty Shootout. In this game you should choose the correct part of speechand then try to score a goal. Good luck.
As the game is in Flash, it will only play on desktop computers.
Recently, in the post called Questions with Like, I asked you to choose the activity you would like me to write about. Most of you voted for a Speaking activity, so I prepared a set of speaking activities to practice the prepositions of place.
I have already created a post on prepositions, so this time there will be no infographics just two speaking activities. If you are looking for more speaking activities, you can find a two great speaking activities here.
Speaking activities – Battle
First, print out the worksheet with 18 pictures. Each picture is different and they are labelled with letters A to R.
Ask students to work in groups of three. They should label themselves A, B, and C. Student A starts.
Student A will choose a room in the worksheet. Then students B and C will take turns asking yes – no questions to identify A´s room. For example, B asks: “Is the table in front of the sofa?” If student A answers “Yes, it is,” student B asks another question. He continues in this way till student B answers “No.” Then it is student´s C turn. Students go on like this till someone identifies the picture student A is thinking of.
After student B or C has guessed A´s room, student B chooses a room and students A and C try to guess it in the same way as they did with student A.
Students keep track of how many rooms they guessed correctly, and the winner is the one who guessed most.
Here is the worksheet students will use (it is enough to print out just one worksheet for each group.)
Speaking activities – Language needed
Vocabulary: plant, picture, lamp, table, cushion, plant, sofa, floor, wall, chair, ball and the prepositions of place (you find the materials to teach Prepositions of place here).
Grammar: to form question with is/are and the phrases There is / there are.
If your students do not know the language mentioned above, the speaking activity will not work!!!
Speaking activities – Drawing a Picture
Then, each student draws between 5 and 10 objects into one of his pictures. He or she has to draw objects they know the English words for. I personally ask my students to draw pieces of furniture we learn in the textbook unit.
Students sit with their backs to each other and one describes their picture for their partner, and the partners draws the objects into the picture he or she has not drawn into yet. When one student finishes they swap their roles and the other student describes their picture.
At the end the students compare their pictures.
Here is the worksheet:
To be able to print out the worksheets in the best possible quality, use the following pdf file:
Speaking activities – Language needed
Can you repeat that?
Tell me again.
Where does the …. go?
Speaking activities – Conclusion
In this post I would like to teach you how to use the words DESPITE, IN SPITE OF, ALTHOUGH, EVEN THOUGH, BECAUSE OF and BECAUSE correctly. I will explain the meaning of the words and the grammar. To help you with this there are two games, a mind map, a video explanation and a graphical explanation. I hope you will learn to use these conjunctions.
Conjunctions – meaning
The meaning of these conjunctions is clearly explained in the following graphics:
If you want to print out the graphic, you can download the pdf file below:
Conjunctions – the usage
You can see the explanation again in the following mind map:
To make it absolutely clear, here is an interactive video explaining the usage of the words BECAUSE and BECAUSE OF.
This video uses the free recording offered by BBC learning English at http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/radio/specials/165_gramchallenge10/
To experience the video full screen click on the following button (as it is HTML5 video it will work on your mobile too):
Conjunctions – quizzes and games
The second quiz is fully in HTML5 so it will play on any mobile device you own. Your task is to connect both of the sentences into one and use the conjunction in the brackets. If you pass the test you will play the game called Math Pop and practise your Maths too.
When students hear the phrase indirect questions, they get scared. But actually this is one of the easiest grammar points in English. The only thing you have to watch out for is that if a sentence starts with a certain phrase (Do you know or Could you tell me etc.) you have to use the word order for an affirmative sentence. To put it simply, after the aforementioned phrases do not make questions.
To help you master this grammar there is a mind map, a video and several games in this post.
Indirect questions – video
We recommend that you watch the video and stop the recording every time there is a task and answer the task before MASA does. It is a great fun and a superb way to learn English.
Indirect questions – mind map
Indirect questions – games
The second game is in Flash and it will play only on your desktop. It is the notorious On target game. If you choose the correct option you will be given a chance to shoot the bad ducks. Moreover, you can get a bonus if you shoot one of the bottles on the sides. Enjoy.
You can learn the words connected with the environment at http://youtu.be/PbBR1sNc6C4
There is a vocabulary video introducing the Town features at http://youtu.be/5Plh_LBjwks
At http://youtu.be/c0T5j-5MEg8 you can learn some vocabulary to speak about Plants in English.
For young learners we have some names of Animals at http://youtu.be/wb6Ctlvz0Ys
If you want to learn more vocabulary on Sports you can go to http://youtu.be/14_5rLiIAm0 and learn the names of Winter Olympics sports
At http://youtu.be/9IWZb61DG1M you can learn Clothes Vocabulary
Furniture vocabulary is presented at http://youtu.be/7VOpE1n74h0
One of the most difficult parts for learners of English to learn are personal qualities.
To help you with this, you can try the video at http://youtu.be/3KisHI5O6WY
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