How do I teach vocabulary to primary children?

Help, tips and advice in teaching English

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How do I teach vocabulary to primary children?

Unread postby Fiona » 30 Nov 2004, 14:03

Auntie Lucy,

I need some new ideas for teaching vocabulary to primary children. Can you give me some ideas?

Thank you


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How do I teach vocab at primary level?

Unread postby Lucy » 03 Dec 2004, 15:07

Dear Fiona,

Teaching vocabulary at primary needs to engage the children; so choose lively activities. The following can be used to teach concrete nouns.

Choose a lexical set (fruit, animals, furniture, etc) and find real examples of the objects or toy copies. Put all the items into a bag or box; do this before class as the children mustn’t know what’s in the bag.

Let the children put their hands in the bag one by one. They can try to guess what’s in it. They can name the item in their own language if they don’t know the English word. Don’t take any items out of the bag yet.

When all the children have handled the objects, you can start taking the items out. Take them out one at a time and ask the children “What’s this?” If nobody knows, you can tell them. Have them repeat chorally and work on pronunciation. After taking out 2 – 3 items, go back and review the names of the items. Try to introduce 6 – 8 items; any more is too much if the vocabulary is new. When all the vocabulary has been presented, you can play a guessing game. For example, hide one behind your back and the children guess which item it is. You could also start drawing one on the board and the children guess what it is. Pupils can also do this in groups.

If you want a more active exercise, you can pin up pictures of the items. Divide the class into 2 teams and take one student from each team. Name an object, the first child to touch the picture, wins a point. Then do the same with another pair. A gentler version of this (good to use if your pupils tend to get excited) is to take one child from a team and tell him / her to touch the elephant (for example). The team gets one point if it’s correct. Then it’s the turn of the other team.

Follow this up with a written stage. Depending on the age and level, children can copy the words or trace them in their books. They can also draw or colour pictures of the items.

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