Wednesday, April 23, 2014

BC TEAL Okanagan Meet and Greet / Lesson Swap: My Vocabulary Activity to Share

Tonight is the BC TEAL Okanagan Meet and Greet / Lesson Swap.  The event is taking place at the Kelowna Public Library in the South Meeting Room at 6:30 pm (Wednesday April 23, 2014). 

I thought I would post the vocabulary activity that I’m going to share with the group.  Here it is:

Two Minute Vocabulary Memorization Activity


I first encountered a version of this activity in one of Dr. David Watt’s graduate level TESL classes at the University of Calgary when I was doing my master’s degree.  I liked it so much, I’ve been doing it ever since!


The following activity is designed to raise lexical awareness for new terms, provide formative information for the teacher on what vocabulary students are familiar with, explore varying memorization techniques employed by learners, help students have a meta-awareness of their own memorization styles, prime students for future encounters with the target vocabulary, and activate background knowledge for the day’s lesson. 


1.      Create a PowerPoint slide with 12 to 24 key vocabulary words that fit with the day’s lesson.  See sample below. 
2.      Prepare the students by informing them that they are going to see a PowerPoint slide with key words for the day’s lesson.  Tell the students the topic of the day.  Do not tell students how many words are on the slide.  Tell them that they will have two minutes to memorize as many words as possible.  However, they are not allowed to write anything down or speak out loud.  They can only use their brain power to memorize as many words as possible in two minutes.  Tell students to be prepared to write down as many words as they can remember once the two minutes are over.
3.      Once students are silent and they know not to write anything down (there should be no pencils or pens in students’ hands), show the PowerPoint slide with the key vocabulary words for two minutes.
4.      Take down the slide after two minutes.  Working alone, have students write down as many words as they remember in two more minutes. 
5.      Once students seem to have written down all of the words they can possibly remember on their own, ask the students how many words they remembered.
6.      Now, have students work with a partner to expand their list of remembered words.  If a student’s partner has a word that they don’t have, they should add that word to their list.  Give students about another two minutes.  Ask students how many words they now have on their lists after working in pairs. 
7.      Once the pairs of students seem to have written down all of the words they possibly could remember together, ask them to create groups of four with another pair of students.  Groups of four should try to expand their lists of words.  If the other pair of students has a word that they do not have, they should add that word to their lists.  Give students about another two minutes.  Ask students how many words they have on their lists now after working in groups of four.  Find out if any of the groups were able to write down all of the words that were shown in the PowerPoint slide. 


1.      Ask students to share how they memorized the words from the PowerPoint slide.  Make a list on the board of the different memorization styles.  Ask the class which they think would be most effective or least effective and why.  Ask the class what conclusions can be drawn from the different memorization techniques employed by different students. 
2.      Remind students that all of the words on the PowerPoint slide are connected with the day’s lesson.  Ask students to predict the content of the day’s lesson.  Ask students what the topic of the day will be. 
3.      Discuss unknown words with the students.  Have students choose five words from the list to be explained by you, or have students work in groups to see if they can collectively define unknown words.  Put a time limit on this activity. 


Here are some sample slides I have created for this activity.  I used these slides with my EDUC 459: ESL in Secondary Education course.  Although most of my students were teacher education students from English speaking backgrounds, it was still a great warmer for the day’s seminar. 

Click Here for the Sample Slides

No comments: