Why you should record vocabulary that comes up in class

The goal of the majority of English learners is, of course, to improve their speaking. As a business English teacher, you will certainly spend a lot of your day locked in conversation and inevitably, vocabulary that is unplanned and unrelated to your class will pop up in your lessons.

You have a couple of options here:

  • Check the dictionary” Not exactly inspiring teaching. You’ll have to do better than that.
  • Translate the word to the student’s L1 language. One of my pet hates in a language class (when I’m the student) is when the teacher translates the word to English. Students will also have trouble retaining new words when they are simply translated and translating also presupposes that you have a monolingual class.
  • Explain the meaning (using English). Using examples, synonyms and the like. Much better!
  • Other methods. Visuals. Flashcards. Mimes.

How ever you communicate the meaning of your spontaneous vocabulary, you should always make a record of it. Why?:

  1. No one can learn a word after seeing/hearing it once. You’ll need to revisit vocab to make it stick
  2. The opportunity for games and what-not using your words
  3. Probably many more reasons

How to record your vocabulary

A great idea from a previous school and Director of Studies is to use a vocab bag. This works best if you teach in one place, or at least if the class takes place in the same room each week. You need a bag – a plastic wallet will do. Every time a work comes up, you write the word on a piece of paper and drop it into your vocab bag.

Another option is to make a note in your/a notebook. I have a notebook I use for planning and write down all the words in that.

You could always rely on your (super-reliable) students to record vocab. Although your more straight-laced clients may consider this as you shirking your teaching duties.

What to do with your new words

Games! There are loads and loads of vocabulary games you can do that will help those troublesome words stick in your student’s minds.

Memory game
Stop the bus

Fruitbowl

Dice

More ideas:

Games to remember vocabulary, Busy Teacher

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2 Responses

  1. BerLingo says:

    This is a great post – I love the concept of a Vocab bag, because we had a similar sort of running vocab list in my secondary school, which we were then periodically tested on. Keen kids (ahem, like me) loved showing off by ensuring they always practised these words! (I am annoyed that my ‘practised’ has been underlined by my PC here…I’m sure that’s right?)

  1. January 19, 2015

    […] subject material, you can tap your coursebook or recent material, but this also works fantastically when you keep a vocab bag. Although some claim that they can’t draw, most will get deeply involved – enthusiastically […]

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