Vocabulary Games

Fun revision with vocabulary games should be an important part of most lessons. A key to learning any language is growing one's vocabulary. And the key to learning vocabulary is revision, revision, revision. Most people have to come into contact with a word many, many times before it sticks. It is always better to go through material slowly, and well, rather than quickly and rushed. It is far more useful to know a few words well, rather than many words not at all! And having fun while learning words makes the process even more effective.

I have found the following aspects important in trying to remember words:

  • Revision - the more you come across the word, the more likely you are to remember it.
  • Associations - try and build links with other words, so that words are 'hooked' onto something eg. salve, salvation and salvage all have differences and similarities. It is easier to learn these words together, than in isolation.
  • Collocations - it is easier to remember words when they are linked with other words, and they are easier to use eg.commit a crime, commit to memory, commit suicide, commit oneself.
  • Speak out! - it is easier to remember a word, and to pronounce it properly if you say it aloud, rather than repeat it in your mind. When I was learning 'przebyszywskiego' in Polish, I had to say it aloud about 20 times consecutively until I could remember it and pronounce it!

When I revise words for using in vocabulary games, I always write the vocabulary (phrases, idioms etc) onto flashcards. I use coloured, non-sticky post-it notes, and usually cut them in half.

I keep the vocabulary in an envelope, and collect it over a few weeks, so that I can continue to revise the words until I give the class a proper vocab test, or think they know the words well enough.

You can make the vocabulary games easier or more difficult for the students, depending on how much effort they have put into remembering the words.

Vocabulary Activities - Easy

Vocabulary Activities - Moderate

Vocabulary activities - Difficult

If you would like lists of vocabulary words on particular subjects to supplement your lessons, have a look at my vocabulary lists.

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For some other ideas on how to have fun while practising English in the classroom, have a look at some of these ESL Games.

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Winston Churchill

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