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Thursday, July 21, 2016 (read 3043 times)

How to teach and learn vocabulary in Spanish class

by Esther

How to teach and learn vocabulary in Spanish class

The old and new ways of teaching vocabulary in Spanish classes

We all know that in order to learn vocabulary you have to use it in an appropriate context, and that the more repetition the better. In fact, it is said that students need to use a word in its context at least twelve times in order to truly learn and remember it.

Many times students create endless vocabulary lists, scribbling down word after word in class…and although this is done with the best of intentions, lists like this are of little value when it comes to learning new words. Of course, listening to how these words are pronounced and writing them down helps, but it rarely achieves the ultimate goal of retaining meaning and being able to use them effectively. Simply writing words on the board isn't enough for students to learn them; we need to go one step beyond simply presenting a new word. A simple way to achieve this is by associating the lexicon to an image or even to a sound or a short video.

Some cost-effective tools to learn and teach vocabulary in Spanish classes

There are many affordable and effective tools that can help make learning vocabulary fun and which can facilitate the learning process. Here are just a few examples:

  • Associating images and words, with collages for example. Collages are easy to make. All you have to do is look for images of the vocabulary words you want to teach on any search engine; Creative Commons Search is a great option for finding royalty free images. Then use one of the free tools for making collages that are available on the Internet, like Photo Collage, a very basic and simple tool (you just drag the images to a canvas then select the template you want to use according to the number of images). We recommend having two collages: one with the words written next to the images and one without the written words, in order to play memory games and to review in class. Other tools for making collages include: Fotojet, PicMonkey and Photovisi.
  • Create infographics, that are short and clear, in order to teach vocabulary within a particular semantic category. Including images reinforces learning in a visual way and promotes retention of new words. Some tools for making infographics include: Easel, Picktochart,  Infogr or Visual.
  • Use Pinterest to share infographic or collage pins so that students can follow you and have all the vocabulary from the course on hand to review at any time.
  • Make short videos, take pictures, or record audio with your phone or camera. For example, to teach vocabulary related to the city: have students be the producers of their own shorts or photo series based on the vocabulary you're teaching, then have them bring their creations to class to "challenge" their classmates to guess which word(s) (noun, verb, adjective...) their creation represents. Of course the teacher can also make these videos or take the photos themselves.
  • Play around with Snapchat, a mobile application that can be used to take pictures of yourself or your students or to make a short video – you can even change and distort faces in funny ways! It can be used, for example, to learn the names of animals or to express moods using facial expressions that show happiness, anger, sadness, etc. It can also be used for vocabulary related to physical descriptions and body parts.

Have you tried any of these tools? Can you think of other ways to teach and learn vocabulary in Spanish class? Share your tips in a comment below! We can't wait to hear from you!



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« Next Article: Aprovechar el Plan Curricular del Instituto Cervantes para tus clases de español

» Previous Article: Cómo enseñar y aprender vocabulario en la clase de español