Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Using Sentence Practice to Help Students Learn New Vocabulary

Hello Fellow ESL Teachers and ESL Tutors,

Welcome to ESL Teacher, a web sanctuary for ambitious and caring ESL teachers around the world!

Today I wanted to introduce a simple and yet powerful language teaching technique. When you teach students new words, have them make at least 2 sentences with those words.

This teaching technique is a classic, used in many classrooms and ALWAYS effective. In fact, I used it every time I learned new words in Chinese. I even gave myself this homework and asked my tutors to correct the sentences I made.


1) Have students write 2 sentences for each of the new words they used (especially the verbs!!!) Students may do this for homework, or classwork. Tell the students to make the sentences at least 10 words long, and that they should be two very different sentences.

2) Ask students to share their sentences with the class, and write the sentence - word for word.

3) Once you have 5 or 6 sentences on the board, ask your students to look at the first sentence and tell you if it is a good English sentence...or not. This is fun and challenging, as they have to check the grammar and the meaning! I usually make them choose by a vote. If a student says it is wrong, ask them why.

4) If the sentence is right, tell the class it is right and draw a smiley face or star next to it!

5) If the sentence is wrong, correct it using a different color chalk or marker.

6) Tell the students to write the correct sentence down.

7) Let the students ask you questions.

8) Repeat with the other sentences on the board.

9) If you have more vocabulary to do, then ask the students for more sentences. Write at least one sentence per word.

10) After you've finished all of the sentences, let students ask you if the sentences they wrote (but that you couldn't put on the board) were correct or not. Another option is that you can collect and correct their sentences, this takes some time though.

Do you have any suggestions or other ideas? Let everyone know and leave a comment! Thank you for your visit today!

Your fellow ESL teacher,


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