Activities for Teaching Vocabulary

Here are some fun activities for teaching vocabulary during English lessons when revising new words, phrases and idioms. These activities are challenging because the students have to either combine more than one new word together, combine new words with grammar practice, or produce the word as part of everyday conversation.

These activities for teaching vocabulary should only be done with students that are very good at learning their vocabulary and memorizing new words.

  1. Play the memory game with matching sets of words. They could be collocations, synonyms or antonyms. Write the words onto cards, and place the cards face down and spread out across the table. The students need to take turns turning over pairs, in order to find the matching sets. If they find a matching pair, they can keep the cards. If they do not find the matching cards, they can use the words they have turned over, either to give definitions, make sentences or ask the other students questions.
  2. Place the flashcards face down on the table. The students have to pick up 2 words and make up a sentence, or ask another student a question, using both words.
  3. The first student picks up a word and asks another student a question with that word. The student who has been asked the question has to pick up a word, and give an answer using their word.
  4. Place the vocabulary face down on the table. You choose a particular grammar point that you would like them to practice eg indirect questions. The students have to pick up a word, and then ask another student a question using their word, but in the grammar structure you have indicated eg. I was wondering If you could tell me…. .This can be used for other grammar structures including conditionals, passives, modals, tenses, indirect questions etc
  5. Place the flashcards face down on the table. The first student chooses one word and starts a story with that word. The next student picks up another word and has to continue the story using their word, BUT the students also have to repeat all the previous sentences given prior to their contribution.
  6. The students need to do a role play that is relevant to the lesson. During the role play, each student needs to pick up one of the vocabulary words and use it in their part of the dialogue. The dialogue needs to continue until all the words have been used up.
  7. This method can be used for advanced conversation classes. Tell the students that they need to use the vocabulary sometime during the course of the lesson during normal conversation. For every word that they manage to use, give them an m&m or a smartie J You may need to give them a few minutes at the beginning of the lesson to revise the vocabulary (it depends on how studious they are with self-study!).

I hope you enjoy doing these activities for teaching vocabulary as much as I do!

If you are interested in some more ideas, then take a look at Vocabulary Activities - Easy and Activities for teaching vocabulary - Moderate.

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