Traditional and digital creative approaches in teaching vocabulary to students
Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №10 - 2018
Author: Oskolkova Anna , Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan
methodologist and teacher, Penny Ur, defines vocabulary as "the words we
teach in the foreign language". While teaching the very words we need to
teach their forms (pronunciation and spelling), grammar, word collocations,
aspects of meaning (denotation, connotation, appropriateness, meaning
relations) and the rules of word formation.
In the language classroom
we can apply and improve both traditional and alternative/creative ways of
teaching foreign vocabulary. Traditional methods of presenting new vocabulary
can include giving dictionary definitions or detailed descriptions of an item,
sharing real life examples, using various illustrations, de-monstrating
processes, giving the context, providing synonyms or antonyms, explaining
collocations or just translating the word into a native language.
Alternative or creative
ways of teaching vocabulary are usually learner-centered. While applying
creativity we can develop our students' critical thinking, imagination and
emotional intelligence. Among the very creative ways we can name such
activities as: alien game, associations, story-telling, thinking out of the
box, seeking for similarities and differences, or doing word puzzles.
Alien game is a good
activity for both teaching new vocabulary and brushing up well-known words.
Usually teachers chooses a topic and give the first word for a start. A teacher
or another student can be a time-keeper if there are an odd number of students
in the class. In a pair one student is a human another student is an alien who
is fond of asking questions about any item he finds interesting in the given
definition. When the time is up, students change roles and explain a different
Doing associations can
be connected with images and pictures. A teacher minds the word or a phrase
that is known to students from previous classes; then she draws a small sketch
on the board (if there is enough time) or uses already printed pictures.
Students should guess the word or the phrase and name it. It is ok if they give
synonyms or antonyms.
Story-telling can be
done in a different and interesting way. Students are not to make a story with
the words a teacher gives to them, but they try to make a story from a word's
point of view. For example, an article a describes one day of his life by
putting the rule in the story.
Thinking out of the box
is a good tool to develop students' critical thinking and imagination. Keeping
the topic in mind a teacher shows a cutting of the picture without many details
on it. Or a teacher can cover the biggest part of the picture and open new
parts with every right guessing from students. Students brainstorm the ideas
and discuss them together. The useful vocabulary can be copied on the board and
then remembered by the students. Another variant can be when a teacher erases
one object from the picture and asks the students to guess the missing item.
The activity with
similarities and differences can be done individually or in groups. A teacher
gives the word pairs on different topics and asks the student to make a list of
similarities and differences of the very words. For example, what are the
similarities and differences between a kettle and a teapot, a cafe and a
restaurant, a magazine or a newspaper, etc.
Finally, word puzzles
can be connected together with teaching grammar aspects of the language. A
teacher puts word strips in the box and let every student pick one and make an
example with the very word. They can use monolingual dictionaries when
Nowadays within a rapid
development of technology and its impact on education system we can suggest
other alternative ways to improve the students' vocabulary of the English
language. With the help of the following websites and their resources students
can work and develop their vocabulary on their own or together with their group
The first resource is http://www.
quickanddirtytips. com/ grammar-girl. It gives the tips not only on grammar but
also other important issues and ideas.
Grammar Girl provides
short, friend-ly tips to improve your writing. Covering the grammar rules and
word choice guidelines that can confound even the best writers, Grammar Girl
makes complex grammar questions simple with memory tricks to help you recall
and apply those troublesome grammar rules. Whether English is your first
language or second language, Grammar Girl’s punctuation, style, and business
tips will make you a better and more successful writer. Mignon Fogarty is the
creator and host of Grammar Girl. Grammar Girl is a Quick and Dirty Tips
The second resource that
students may find interesting is http:// accent. gmu. edu/ howto. php. Everyone
who speaks a language, speaks it with an accent. A particular accent
essentially reflects a person's linguistic background. When people listen to
someone speak with a different accent from their own, they notice the
difference, and they may even make certain biased social judgments about the
The speech accent
archive is established to uniformly exhibit a large set of speech accents from
a variety of language backgrounds. Native and non-native speakers of English
all read the same English paragraph and are carefully recorded. The archive is
constructed as a teaching tool and as a research tool. It is meant to be used
by linguists as well as other people who simply wish to listen to and compare
the accents of different English speakers.
This website allows users
to compare the demographic and linguistic backgrounds of the speakers in order
to determine which variables are key predictors of each accent. The speech
accent archive demonstrates that accents are systematic rather than merely
All of the linguistic
analyses of the accents are available for public scrutiny. The founders of the
website welcome comments on the accuracy of our transcriptions and analyses
The third resource that
we would like to talk about is www.freerice.com. Freerice has a custom database
containing questions at varying levels of difficulty. There are levels
appropriate for beginners and levels that will challenge the most scholarly
professors. In between are levels suitable for students of all ages, business
people, homemakers, doctors, truck drivers, retired people.
adjusts to your level. It starts by giving you questions of increasing
difficulty and then, based on how you do, assigns you an approximate starting
level. You then determine a more exact level for yourself as you play. When you
get a question wrong, you go to an easier level. When you get three questions
in a row right, you progress to a harder level.
The program keeps track
of how many people get each question right or wrong, and then adjusts each
question's difficulty level accordingly. So the questions at the easiest levels
are the ones that people most often get right. The questions at the hardest
levels are the ones that people most often get wrong. As more and more people
have played the game, these levels have become increasingly more accurate. In
the middle of the Freerice Home page you will see something like:
To play the game, you
click on one of the four definitions ("little", "old",
"big" or "yellow") that you think is correct. If you get it
right, Freerice donates 10 grains of rice to help end hunger. In the example
above, you would want to click on "little", which means "small".
When you select the correct answer, you earn 10 grains of rice - your donation
is automatically counted without any further action required on your part. You
will then get a chance to play another question in the same way. You can play
as long as you like and donate as much rice as you like.
Learning new vocabulary
has tremendous benefits. It can help you:
- Better formulate your
- Write more effective
papers, emails and business letters;
- Speak more precisely
- Comprehend more of
what you read;
- Read faster because
your comprehension improves;
- Get higher grades in
high school, college and graduate school;
- Increase your scores
on tests like the SAT, GRE, LSAT and GMAT;
- Improve your
performance at job interviews and conferences;
- Sell yourself, your
services, and your products more effectively;
- Be more successful in
After you have played
Freerice for a while, you may notice a strange phenomenon. Words that you have
never consciously used before will begin to pop into your head while you are
speaking or writing .
The fourth website is
connected with drawing and interactive gaming together with studying English
vocabulary - www.drawastickman.com. a student can participate in episodes by
drawing the main character and other objects that can help him complete the
mission. In order to do this a student should have enough vocabulary to
understand the instructions of the main character .
resource is on www.makebeliefscomix.com.
At the beginning of each
new school year a teacher may have students create an autobiographical comic
strip talking about themselves and their families or summarizing the most
important things about their lives, including their goals both in school and in
life. Students can create a comic strip story using new vocabulary words that
are being taught. Having students fill in talk or thought balloons for
different cartoon characters also helps students practice conversation and
language structure in a meaningful context. And what a fun way for students to
improve their writing, reading and storytelling skills!
Students can break up
into pairs or group teams to create their comic strips together. This approach
encourages teamwork and cooperation, with students complementing the skills of
Students and teachers can
create comic scenarios, scripts, or stories for children with autism as a way
to teach them different kinds of social behavior and to read emotions by
observing the faces of the different characters selected for the cartoons.
Students and teachers can create comic strips teaching do’s and don’ts of using
the Internet and social media. Teachers and students can create comic posters
on responsible behavior related to technology use, including what not to post,
digital literacy, ethics, etiquette and security.
Have students who are
learning new foreign languages write their text in languages they are studying.
In addition to English, the site accepts characters and accent marks from
languages such as Spanish, French, Latin, German, Italian and Portuguese. Additional
languages will be added to the site in the future.
Students can email or
download to their desktop their completed comics. Doing so validates the
efforts they put into creating the strips and gives them a sense of ownership.
They can use the cartoon strips to introduce students to the world of creative
writing and the pleasure of using their imaginations more fully. Teachers may
consider having students create daily comix diaries. These provide a way for
students to digest and integrate what they are taught each day as well as to
reflect on their lives and experiences. Encourage students to use the comic
characters as surrogates for them to talk about and examine their lives, their
problems, their challenges and their anxieties. In effect, students can see
themselves in the comics they create .
Another resource is
taken from mass media world. It is https:// learningenglish. voanews. com/.
Learning English is
VOA’s multimedia source of news and information for millions of English
Their Let's Learn
English programs are designed for beginning English learners by certified
American English teachers. The audio programs and captioned videos are written
using vocabulary at the intermediate and upper-beginner level. The programs are
read one-third slower than normal English speed. Online texts, MP3s and
podcasts let people read, listen and learn American English and much more.
Learning English began
as Special English, which Voice of America launched in 1959. Special English
newscasts and features were a primary fixture of VOA’s international shortwave
broadcasts for more than half a century. In 2014, the line of products was
expanded to include more English teaching materials, and the service became
known as Learning English.
Some language teaching
methods are dull and disconnected from real life. People soon forget what they
learn, or focus on words and phrases without context. VOA Learning English
maintains a loyal following among learners, teachers and educational publishers
worldwide by using journalism to engage people's interests. Learners absorb
American English thro-ugh content drawn from world news, business, science, U.S. life, popular culture and other topics. People build their vocabulary, strengthen
their speaking skills and improve their ability to communicate for work, school
and everyday life .
In order to improve not
only vocabulary but also pronunciation the students and teachers can use the
website www. audacity. sourceforge.net.
Audacity is a free,
easy-to-use, multi-track audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU /
Linux and other operating systems. The interface is translated into many
Audacity is free
software, developed by a group of volunteers and distributed under the GNU
General Public License (GPL). Programs like Audacity are also called open
source software, because their source code is available for anyone to study or
use. There are thousands of other free and open source programs, including the
Firefox web browser, the LibreOffice or Apache OpenOffice office suites and
entire Linux-based operating systems such as Ubuntu.
- Record live audio
- Record computer
playback on any Windows Vista or later machine
- Convert tapes and
records into digital recordings or CDs
- Edit WAV, AIFF, FLAC,
MP2, MP3 or Ogg Vorbis sound files
- AC3, M4A/M4R (AAC),
WMA and other formats supported using optional libraries
- Cut, copy, splice or
mix sounds together
- Numerous effects
including change the speed or pitch of a recording .
By clicking on https:// www. discoveryeducation. com/who-we-are/ about-discovery-education/, students can improve their language skills by
watching the video and working with its content in the classroom or at home,
reading authentic texts and doing the assignments. Discovery Education is the
global leader in standards-based digital content for students, transforming
teaching and learning with award-winning digital textbooks, multimedia content,
professional development, and the largest professional learning community of
its kind. Serving 4.5 million educators and over 50 million students, Discovery
Education’s services are in half of U.S. classrooms, 50 percent of all primary
schools in the U.K., and more than 50 countries.
Teachers can accelerate
their student achievement in their district by capturing the minds and
imaginations of students with the fascination of Discovery, tapping into
students’ natural curiosity and desire to learn.
Teachers may help in
transitioning classrooms to a 21st-century learning environment, or replace
textbooks with modern digital resources, Discovery Education offers a continuum
of solutions to meet district’s specific needs. All content is aligned to state
standards, can be aligned to custom curriculum, and supports classroom
instruction regardless of the technology platform. In addition, they offer a variety
of professional development opportunities to ensure effective implementation in
the classroom. Discovery Education impacts the way students learn, breaking
down barriers and moving beyond static textbooks to a digital delivery they
achievement is the ultimate result we all want to reach. Discovery Education
has worked with school districts of all sizes and demographics and consistently
delivers results. They evaluate their services using qualitative measures,
including student engagement, teacher satisfaction, and impact, and
quantitative measures, such as test scores .
Graphic organizers taken
from http://eduplace.com/graphicorganizer/ can help students classify ideas and
communicate more effectively. They can use graphic organizers to structure
writing projects, to help in problem solving, decision making, studying,
planning research and brainstorming .
In conclusion, we would
like to say that it is a well-known fact that the English language has the
biggest vocabulary and today's methodology of teaching this vocabulary has
gained so many ways, approaches and tools, so it is up to the teacher to choose
them wisely and apply effectively.
1. http:// www. quickanddirtytips. com/ grammar-
8. https:// www. discoveryeducation. com/ who-
Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №10 - 2018