The American athlete, Hank Stram’s philosophy of “Simplicity plus variety” is certainly one that could be applied to introducing new lexical items to students. Some traditional ways of presenting lexis are still very useful, after all, do we really need to reinvent the wheel? Here we have a selection of new as well as old methods for introducing new lexis ..
- Pictures. Visuals shown either on flashcards, using a tablet or projected/ drawn onto the board are an invaluable way of conveying meaning, especially of concrete nouns eg modes of transport. 💡 Make sure it is 100% clear what the pictures is conveying!
- Context. If language is introduced in a context it is often more memorable. This could be through a listening or reading text.💡Teacher needs to ask ccqs to check students’ understanding of the items. 💡Make sure you focus on the content of the text with reading/ listening tasks before focusing on the language in the text. This means the students will be comfortable with the text and can concentrate solely on the language being introduced.
- Definition. Students match items to their definitions or teachers give students 3 definitions for a lexical item and students should work out/ guess which one is the correct definition. 💡Teacher needs to ask ccqs to check students’ understanding of the items
- Realia. Again for concrete nouns, the teacher brings real items to class.
- Matching synonyms/ antonyms. Matching opposites can work well for adjectives and appeals to more kinesthetic learners.
- Mime. Teacher uses mime or gesture to clarify meaning. Works well for teaching actions.
- Grouping or classifying. Eg by giving students food and drink words, they can categorise them into fruit/ vegetables/ meat/ drinks.
- Ordering. This can also involve physically moving things about or ordering items on a line eg always, usually, sometimes, never.
- Cuisenaire rods.
These were designed for the maths classroom but can be useful in the EFL classroom too eg for teaching prepositions of place.
- Graphs. Useful for teaching verbs or adverbs to describe trends eg to increase, to sky rocket, to slump
- Word families. Students can extend their knowledge by learning not only the noun but also the verb, adjectives and adverbs connected to a word. This is more useful at higher levels and especially for those students preparing for a Cambridge exam as this is tested. For example to produce (vb), produce (n), production (n), producer (n), product (n). productive (adj) unproductive (neg adj), counterproductive (neg adj).
- Anecdotes. The teacher tells an anecdote, possibly personalised to make it more interesting. 💡Teacher needs to ask ccqs to check students’ understanding of the items. 💡Make sure you focus on the content of the text with reading/ listening tasks before focusing on the language in the text. This means the students will be comfortable with the text and can concentrate solely on the language being introduced.
- Dictogloss. This is based on numbers 2 & 12 with a twist.
Finally some tips when it comes to presenting lexis:
💡Remember to ask ccqs to check understanding of meaning.
💡Focus on the meaning, form & phonology of the target language.
💡Focus on the meaning first before dealing with form or phonology so students understand the words.
💡Teach language in chunks.
💡Teach students how to record and review newly introduced lexical items
Do you have any other tried and tested methods you would like to share?