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Thursday, September 22, 2016 (read 838 times)
 

How to present new vocabulary in Spanish class

by Esther

How to present new vocabulary in Spanish class

One of the biggest challenges that students of Spanish as a foreign or second language face is learning new vocabulary. The wealth of Spanish lexicon is immense, and oftentimes our students complain that there are too many new words to learn. How can we help them?

The days of lengthy vocabulary lists are long gone; these days, students and teachers alike know that these types of lists aren't helpful. So then, how should we teach vocabulary?

Now that a new school year has started, we're bringing you some ideas that you can put into practice on how to present new vocabulary in your Spanish class.

  • Explain the meaning of a new word. Something very basic that we frequently do when vocabulary isn't the main objective of an activity is write the new word on the board and explain it. But why not do it the other way around? First we explain the concept, so that students can grasp the meaning and then we say the new word. But don't write it yet; first let your students try writing it themselves and only afterwards write it on the board. This allows them to check if they have spelled it correctly and, simultaneously, practice their spelling skills.
  • Use images and even sounds to represent a new word; let them first think and guess as to what concept we're referring to. Then give them the new word, following the same procedure of having them try writing it themselves, as outlined in the previous example. 
  • Associate the new word to a synonym or antonym that the students already know, or present the new concept with a word that means the same or the opposite; this helps students establish connections and associations and ultimately helps them remember the new word more easily.
  • Create words from other words with their roots and suffixes: divertido, divertirse, diversión.  It's an activity that can be done in groups: give each group pieces of paper with the root and different suffixes written on them, and ask them to try to construct different words. Then each group presents their results and all the vocabulary is reviewed.
  • Present a word within the context of its intrinsic or gradual relationship to other words. For example: caliente, templado, frío or colors of a traffic light: rojo, amarillo, verde.
  • Relate the new word to the semantic field to which it belongs. For example, if you present the word fresa, do it in relation to others fruits like naranja, melon, etc. Then, use them all in an exercise or role play, for example shopping at the grocery store.
  • Provide some images related to the word you want the students to learn; you can put students in groups and they can try to guess the word or concept. After each group gives their response, you can all take a look at the new word and discuss its relationship to the images.

What do you think of these ideas? Can you think of any other ways to present new vocabulary? If so, please share! We look forward to your suggestions!


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