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Thursday, October 6, 2016 (read 4113 times)

How to practice new vocabulary in Spanish class

by Esther

How to practice new vocabulary in Spanish class

No one can successfully learn new Spanish vocabulary by attempting to stuff a dictionary into their heads and hoping to simply memorize everything. It's also not enough to just see a word written out and understand its meaning.

Last week we discussed how to present new vocabulary in Spanish class, so this week we’re offering some ideas about how to ensure our students learn new words, internalize them and know how to use them in appropriate situations:

  • Present a word in any of the ways discussed in last week's post and, once they understand its meaning, ask them to get in groups and create a context for its use in a real life situation. Then, ask them to present, act out or role-play this situation for the whole class.  Obviously this activity won't work for all kinds of vocabulary; it should be lexicon that belongs to a wide semantic field requiring a specific interaction (for example shopping, cooking, etc.).
  • Flashcards can be a very useful resource, especially if we create them ourselves and post them on our Pinterest board. Of course this requires a lot of preparation and a particular type of student – someone who is willing to review vocabulary during their time free and is savvy with a Smartphone.
  • Have a brainstorming session to find words related to the new word(s) presented: this gives students context and ultimately helps them memorize words and create associations.
  • Simulation or role-playing exercises which represent real life situations, in which students have to use the vocabulary that we want them to learn. Without a doubt, in order to learn new words, we must use them.
  • Texts with fill-in-the-blank spaces: in groups, students guess what words go in each space.  It's a pretty boring activity if done individually, but in collaboration with a group it's a great way to not only learn new vocabluary, but to also practice conversation skills in Spanish: agreeing or disagreeing with others, offering a counter-argument or opinion...
  • Describe photos: it can be photos of objects, landscapes or even activities so that they practice describing actions and using verbs. Thus you get a two-in-one vocabulary and grammar lesson!
  • The "Which word doesn't belong?" game: in groups, students present several words and the rest of the class has to identify which word isn't related to the others.
  • The “Taboo” game: divide the students into two teams. One team has to describe a word without using certain related terms that you've decided, while the other team has to guess the word in question.
  • The "Arriba el lápiz" (aka "Stop") game: students have to fill in categories such as food, drinks, shops... Choose a letter and students must write a word that starts with that letter in each of the categories; the first student to complete all the categories wins.
  • The "Spot the difference" game: two images that appear the same are presented and the students have to search for their differences and say them in Spanish.
  • The Definitions game: The students break up into two groups. One group defines words and the other group has to guess what they are.

Any other ideas? Do you know of any other activities or games to practice vocabulary? Don't be shy, leave your comments below! 



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« Next Article: Cómo diseñar un syllabus para un curso de español

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