Teaching Vocabulary

Many sources suggest limiting teaching new vocabulary to under ten new words a day. Attaching a story or a context when you teach a word is more effective for student retention than simply teaching the meaning. The more times students encounter a word, the more easily they will remember it. Some sources suggest students need to use a new word about ten times before they will remember it. Cramming might work for imminent tests, but less so for long-term retention. To remember new words long-term, students need to review them a day, a week, and a month later.

I have students make word cards, with the English word on one side and the translation on the reverse. I punch a hole in the card and put it on a silver binder ring like below.

Students can review vocabulary on the bus or whenever they have time—maybe during a spare moment in class. Words can be added to the ring each day. Once students believe they won’t forget a word, I have them remove it from their ring.

Here below is a classroom poster to encourage students to develop the habit of reviewing new words multiple times. Click on the image below to download it for use in your own classroom.

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