ESL Activity - Vocabulary Cards

I have a class activity that works quite well and I would like to share it.

I prepare index cards with sample sentences using the vocabulary of the course. Then I prepare (on the computer) envelopes with the individual vocabulary word on the front where the address would go.

I insert the card into the envelope.

Students are dealt envelopes like a deck of cards, at random, two or three at a time.

They have to write their own sentences using the vocabulary word on the outside of the envelope. They are only allowed to look inside after their own sentence is written, to check if they did it correctly.

The index card could also have the grammar rules, punctuation rules, spelling rules for irregular verbs, etc. Whatever was required by the lesson.

The nice thing about this method is that students all do not have to write sentences using the same words as the other students. When you have 40 students in a class, it is tedious to listen to all the same sentences. This breaks the vocabulary list up for everyone to learn.

I have done this with many variations, including just giving the students an index card with the word and they must use their dictionary to look up the word, write the part of speech and a sentence.

The variations are really limited by time and imagination.

Sometimes, when the students are all seated, I will fan out the cards like a regular playing deck, and they can choose their own from the pack!

As the work is completed, students return the cards, and envelopes, to me and I give out another set, so by the end of the class, the words have rotated around the room.

This also would work for math problems.

It is especially good for team work, where students have to solve real life problems and write paragraphs.

Contributor: Elain Fruchtman