Reusing and recycling vocabulary

This week, the topic was back to travel and places again so lots and lots of vocabulary and personal experiences and knowledge that the students could draw on (of all ages, see my previous post). One of the ways I like to encourage the students to re-use vocabulary connected to the topic is to put pictures around the walls of the classroom and ask them to walk around and look at the pictures/photos and stop next to one that they want to talk about. In the past this has meant that the students stop next to images that they are sure they know the vocabulary for, and although it’s good and gets them speaking, I always felt I could do a lot more with it. So this week, I asked the students to look through their notebooks and to write down 3 words/phrases and definitions/translations of vocabulary that they are interested in learning (not that they already know) on a small piece of paper. Then, as the students walked around the room, they kept their chosen vocabulary in mind and looked for opportunities to use it when they spoke to other students about the pictures. I was pretty impressed with how many of them deliberately directed a conversation so that they could use all of their words, without sounding (too) unnatural. Some of them told me later in the week that they’d tried this activity outside of the classroom and every couple of days made a new list of words that they wanted to try and learn, so quite a success! This worked really well in the classroom because of the stimuli of both the vocabulary and the pictures, I’m thinking up ways of encouraging the use of more abstract ideas next… If anyone has any similar/different experiences or ideas for encouraging students to reuse and recycle vocabulary, please feel free to comment below!

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