We think with words, therefore to improve thinking, teach vocabulary. — A. Draper and G. Moeller
I remember my Middle school Spanish teacher would assign us 25 new words to memorize at the beginning of every week. For homework, we’d look up the definition of each word and write it down. I HATED it. It wasn’t because it was particularly difficult or time consuming, it was because the delivery of the lesson was just so boring to me! Every new word forced upon me was met with “why do I have to know ________”. None of these words had any contextual relationship behind it. Context is part of the core foundation of acquiring new vocabulary words.
So how can we apply these concepts to getting students to learn new vocabulary? Fret not, here are 5 fun games that will help your students build context around new words –
1. Vocabulary bingo
Students can make their own bingo cards and place the new foreign language words they learned on the card. The teacher reads out the english (native language) word and students find the word in their target language. If the students have the word, they can color in the box on their cards where it exists.
2. Vocabulary charades
Divide your students into groups and have them act out new word definitions to the best of their ability. Another fun game could be to have students act out words in short skits for their peers to guess. These games can be lots of fun and are sure to create lots of laughs as they learn new words.
3. Short stories
More advanced students can write a short skit of story using words they’ve been trying to learn. This can be a great project that progresses throughout the school year. It’d be more fun than having a final exam and students are sure to feel accomplished when they see how much they’ve progressed through the year.
4. Write a poem
This project will really help students get creative with each other! Assign students one word each and have them write poems in context of the definition of the new word. After each student has written their poem, they can share it with the rest of the class!
5. Vocabulary detective
Write the vocabulary words they are learning on an index card. Insert yarn through the card so students can wear it around their neck. Each student has one card that they wear over their back. Students walk around giving clues to other people so that they have to guess the word that’s on their card.
Share what kind of fun activities you do in your classroom in the comments below.