Teacher talk - Building and retaining vocabulary

Teacher talk is a series of videos featuring some of our TeachingEnglish Associates speaking about important teaching issues.

In this video, the theme is building and retaining vocabulary. Adam Simpson, Lizzie Pinard, Rachael Roberts and George Chilton give practical ideas on the ways we can help our learners build their range of vocabulary and more importantly find ways to retain it. Throughout this video, they provide a number of useful activities that can be used to help students in this area.

What activities do you use to help your students build and retain vocabulary? Why not write some of your favourite activities below in the comments.

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Submitted by Ajit Singh Nagpal on Wed, 10/15/2014 - 00:47


You must have heard the saying that meanings are not in words but in people, i.e. there are more meanings to a word then the dictionary can list them. Hence the building of vocabulary must not be done with words in isolation, but with the word in phrases and in sentences, in different contexts. Secondly vocabulary is retained through usage as discussed in the video. What a learner needs in the early days is a mentor who will listen and correct the use in as many times as required. I fully subscribe to the recording down words to build vocabulary, but this should be done with the word in a phrase rather than a word with the literal meaning in isolation.

Submitted by jchichon on Tue, 05/10/2016 - 08:00


I couldn't agree more. The amount of my colleagues that present vocabulary independently and outside of context is phenomenal giving learners very little chance to actually process and understand lexis at a higher level

Hi Jo In the video they make reference to various different language corpus. The British National Corpus http://www.natcorp.ox.ac.uk/ is a collection of samples of real language as it appears in different formats and contexts. The idea is that it helps students learn language in context. Concordancers are computer programmes which students can use to search different corpus to check which usages are more common or correct. Here is a link about using concordancers with students which you might find useful: https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/concordancers-elt Best wishes, Cath TE Team

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