Easy ESL vocabulary exercises that will work in any classroom - these activities will help build foundational reading skills and extend critical thinking.
Daily immersion in social language allows students to quickly make associations between routine words and meanings. Learning academic language, however, with its unfamiliar words and often novel contexts, is more of a challenge.
language learners (ELL) may take six months to 2 years to learn social
language, but catching up with academic language often requires 4-9
ESL Teaching Strategies
ESL vocabulary exercises have to focus on building background knowledge to support learning. Teachers must regularly pre-teach key academic content vocabulary by manipulating words within novel or meaningful contexts.
These strategies may not be all that different from what you already use in the classroom. The difference is that it is critical to directly use these techniques every day in ESL vocabulary exercises.
merely introducing and copying textbook definitions, teachers encourage
students to create original "in-your-own-words" definitions and sample
Students identify examples and non-examples of vocabulary using words and/or sketches.
key vocabulary words are quickly connected within pair of sentences or a
short, original scenario or story slice. The same idea could be used to
create a card game.
By translating new
vocabulary into their native language, English language learners
instantly are building background knowledge on previous learning.
Sometimes there is an obvious word similarity between the languages
(dictionary – diccionario).
Word roots and
affixes are analyzed and explored for meaning patterns (rhinoceros:
rhino = nose, keras = horn; tricerotops: tri = three, keratos = horned,
ops = face). This should be part of any lesson you use when teaching
Pairs of students
physically manipulate, classify, and reclassify word cards into groups.
As each grouping is evaluated and questioned for meaning, the language
of compare and contrast becomes the norm as definitions are clarified.
Large graphic organizers and word sorts (such as organized word walls, charts, and tables) are displayed to show relationships.
By building background knowledge within the academic vocabulary, you will be making a concrete way for students to scaffold their learning while deepening their understanding of the English language.