Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Vocabulary learning tips for ESL

The right choice of word can make the difference between being understood and being met with a puzzled expression. I bet you have encountered this situation yourselves, when struggling to find the perfect word to express your thoughts. This illustrates the importance of having a fairly extensive vocabulary so that you can pull the right word out at the right time! It is good to have synonyms at the ready so that even if the perfect word escapes you , there is always another word you can substitute. A rich and varied vocabulary makes what you have to say more engaging and precise, it gives your listener more information and you can be more confident that you are getting your message across.
There are many ways to learn vocabulary and often it is a matter of discovering the method that works best for you. I personally like to teach new vocabulary in my ESL classes in groups of words. For example I might take the topic of weather and then elicit from my students the vocabulary they already know. After this I will often give them a video clip or article to read regarding weather. There is always an ample amount of information on this subject , via yahoo news, you tube or any other media page. For example the other day I gave one of my students a video to watch , with the headline "Arctic Blast sweeps across the Midwest!"
We had a lot of fun deciphering the meaning of this and naturally the article had a lot of new vocabulary. We covered:

  • Deep freeze
  • Cold snap
  • Bone- numbing cold
  • Black ice
  • Biting cold
  • Bitterly cold
  • Snow drift
  • Snow storm
  • Frigid temperatures
As you can see the above list will enrich any conversation you may have about the weather. I also hope it develops a love of learning new words and gives you the confidence to use this in your daily conversations.

I am a qualified ESL tutor. If you need help with the English language please contact me.