The significant 5 R’s in Vocabulary Teaching and Learning: Read, Review, Recycle, Reflect and Research.

ELT has witnessed significant improvement in classroom practices with the help of online teacher communities. (BC TeachingEnglish site, for example). From lesson plans to resources, creative ideas to teacher resilience stories, we constantly look forward to select ideas and modify them to mitigate our teaching style.

Let me pen down a few significant R’s that make Vocabulary Teaching and Learning interesting:

1.  Reading: 
Reading habits are directly proportional to vocabulary growth. Reading is mainly categorized into two types: Extensive and Intensive. Both of these types are helpful in developing and strengthening vocabulary skills. Extensive reading (e.g. reading magazines and blogs) is reading for enjoyment with no tight boundaries, and the latter type (e.g. comprehension passages) is based on specific course objectives and tasks. We can include both of the types in the vocabulary lesson plan for maximum benefit.

• Reading by applying word-forms: One effective method to introduce new vocabulary is by reading and exploring the word’s origin, as it becomes easy for learners to learn by understanding the vocabulary’s base-forms. For instance, with the root word, di, learners can come up with words: diagonal, dicotyledons, dilution, dimensions, etc.
Similarly, assigning interesting research activities for more root words such as: circum (round), bio (living), poly (many), mono (single), etc would be a vocabulary asset . Another splendid way for clear vocabulary concepts is by guiding learners to use prefix and suffix forms. Prefixes, for instance, pre-test, post-surgery, co-operate, anti-oxidants, well-rested, etc. Suffixes such as: edutainment, fixation, examiners, enhancer, physiotherapist, fillers, etc.  Teaching word—roots and stretching them is a simple and sensible way to make learners aware of the vocabulary trends.

• Glossary: Using Glossary while reading, is an old yet student-driven method to exercise vocabulary in the given context. In this method, learners refer the glossary —twice or three times to understand the passage. Learners do the learning and can also collaborate to discuss the context.

2.  Review:
Using themes is one efficient method to level-up and retain vocabulary from varied fields. In this method, learners can use themes such as: colors,cooking, pets, maths, science, binomial pairs, technology, geology etc.
Learners, in groups or as individuals, prepare vocabulary cards on the given themes and think of related words or phrases from the theme. For instance, if the chosen theme is— germinate, learners can make sentences or phrases with related thematic words in their tasks like: sprout, water, warmth, gardening, de-seed, and nurturing etc.

• Newspaper Headlines: In vocabulary teaching sessions, or in morning assemblies, assign a group of learners to pick a headline from global news and discuss the context. The newspaper language can be informal, but an innovative way for learners to stay up to date and learn the variety of different registers and language styles.

• Teaching Vocabulary via Gamification —this has certainly benefitted the ELT landscape, as learning through gaming is not taken as learning time. Learners experience it as fun-based, interesting and creative learning. My fifth grader son, for instance, surprises me with novel vocabulary— learnt from Minecraft gaming. Moreover, a plethora of online vocabulary review applications, games and reading materials are available. We can emphasize the significance of using online resources in the language learning process and guide learners to select the resources according to their levels and backgrounds. 

• Competitions: Organising reading and word-making competitions are the smartest ways to review and engross the vocabulary learnt in a term. It prepares life long language learners by igniting a creative vocabulary spark.

3) Recycle ♻️:
Learners grasp the lesson’s vocabulary and forget shortly after. This lexical burn-out can be fixed by recycling techniques, i.e. altering the recall time. In this method, a deliberate recycling plan is included in the 
ELT lesson plan, to recall the learnt vocabulary at different time intervals. For instance, assigning vocabulary use —prior to teaching (flipped learning method), at the end of the lesson, after a day, after a week , extend it to a fortnight , and a month, and even longer— the next season. Until we notice the vocab is embedded into learners’ language.

• Word Bank: Learners can create boards on Pinterest or on other web-applications and save the varied vocabulary and its us they have come across in everyday life . They can also revisit the boards when required. Another simple method to recycle vocabulary is by selecting and saving a list of words that the learners’ struggle with. We can choose those words and add it to the next term’s teaching or assessment plan.

4) Reflecting reading journey

Estimated lexical range is collected from the standardized or diagnostic tests, and the scores can be used to reflect on reading habits and to analyze the activities that have been powerful over the previous term. However, this approach should never be used to confine the library books’ access to learners. Reading or learning materials should always be open to all learners as a classroom resource; however, explanations or learning activities can vary as per their academic levels.

5) Research

Languages are ever evolving, and the vocabulary is the main ingredient in this process. To meet the growing demands, learners need to read the latest global news and hot topics at hand. To escalate language learning motivation, we can inculcate PBL in ELT, a 21st century research based learning approach. We can guide learners to create their own learning resources based on their Lexical needs such as: vocabulary flash cards and cubes with synonyms and antonyms on the sides. Learners confidently reach the lesson objectives, for they are the constructors.

•Thesaurus Wall: A synonyms’ wall in the English classroom is quite helpful for learners. In writing lessons, learners choose synonyms to become better writers. For instance, a student writes very tasty in his/her writing piece, then goes to thesaurus wall and replace the word to ‘irresistible’.

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