6 Steps for Teaching ELL Students Vocabulary Words

Just a Few Minutes a Day can Accelerate Your ChildToward English Mastery

For many students, learning vocabulary words in their native language is tough enough. But learning vocabulary in another language can be quite a challenge! Here are 6 steps to help your child expand and accelerate his or her English vocabulary at home.

1. To get started, ask your child’s teacher for a comprehensive list of vocabulary words that are progressively difficult. Teachers are usually happy to help, as they are dedicated to your child’s success, too! Since teachers have a wide array of vocabulary resources available to them, they can often simply hand you a paper vocabulary list. Once you have this list in hand, you are equipped to lead your child to improved vocabulary understanding.

2. Select 5 words from the list per week for your child to master. Place the date for the Sunday of each week (Example: 1. genius 4/5/20) next to each word you select for the week to help you stay on track. Be willing to adjust your selections as you move forward, identifying words that are suitably challenging, but not frustrating.

3. Now mastery begins! Working with each vocabulary word in a variety of ways will help your child to make future language connections with it. Using a spiral notebook that is dedicated to vocabulary learning, a highlighter, and pencils, have your child set up and complete one page in the spiral notebook per vocabulary word, like this example:

Vocabulary Word #1:
adversity

1. Dictionary definition: adversity.  [ədˈvərsədē]
difficulties, misfortune
“resilience in the face of adversity”
synonyms: trouble, difficulty, distress, affliction

2. Pronunciation check: Listen to and repeat the word properly 5 times from an electronic dictionary. Check off here 5 times I’ve listened to and pronounced the word:
√     √      √     √     √

3. Proper use of the word in 5 different sentences. Underline the vocabulary word.
     a. The soldier faced much adversity as he stared his many enemies in the face.
     b.  …
     c.  …
     d.  …
     e.  …

4. Vocabulary Word Spider: Draw a simple spider illustration with a body and 8 legs. Place the vocabulary word on the body and a synonym at the end of each leg.
                         trauma                            tribulation

                           woe                             strife

5. Creative Story: Write a creative story using the vocabulary word and my choice of 4 synonyms for the word from the spider on back. The more creative the better, using characters, dialogue, and a colorful illustration!

6. Presentation: Present my creative story to my parents for critique and encouragement. Check off here when complete:

4. After your child has made his or her entries for a week’s 5 words, give him or her a short oral test, with the spiral notebook pages in hand for your reference. For each word, ask a question from each of the first 4 activities on the page. Have your child also share his or her favorite creative story of the week.

5. Review and repeat the vocabulary words as necessary. Sometimes kids just need to refresh their memories or relearn comprehensive material like this that builds over time. It’s ok to adjust the list according to your child’s educational needs.

6. Continue this activity for each school year, building a collection of these spiral notebooks. They will be handy references that build your child’s vocabulary memory, understanding, and confidence for years to come!

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