Learning new vocabulary is the building block to learning a new language, anyone who has ever taught ESL children knows that – but have you realized the leverage that English language games can have in your classroom? So how can we as teachers teach new vocabulary into our student’s minds while making it fun and easy for everyone?
Repetition, repetition, repetition is key! I’m sure I don’t have to repeat that, we all know that the more we hear and say and do things the more engrained it gets into our heads. However, I’m not referring to traditional “repetition” of sitting in a chair and repeating the same word over and over again in a row. Instead, I’m talking about a more engaging and fun approach to teaching vocabulary to ESL beginners 어린이 화상영어.
The first time you introduce a new word or set of vocabulary, show them with the use of flash cards, or movements or pointing to the object, ask them to repeat it right then while you are showing them so that they associate the two. Then move on to another exercise that uses the same vocabulary but in a different song or activity. Not only will this help ESL children to hear and say and use the same vocabulary over again (repetition is key!) but it also keeps them interested in the class so they don’t get bored and start causing distractions. Continually adding more variety of vocabulary repetition will dramatically increase their learning speed and retention.
Here is an example of a series of variations I’ve put together for the traditional children’s song “Head and Shoulders”. It’s hard to explain each one in detail only in writing, so I’ve made a video of each of these ESL exercises on my blog.
1. Sing “Head and shoulders” – here’s where you can point to each body part and say its name while having the kids repeat, then sing slowly all together and finally take turns having the boys sing all together while the girls listen and then switch. This gives them a chance to perform, take turns and hear each other as well.
2. “Good morning body” – this exercise game is to ‘wake up’ each body part by doing stretches and movements, the rhythm is slow and the children can repeat each phrase after you.
3. “I love my body” – this song has a cute tune! You’d first want to explain what ‘I love’ means to them so that they really get the significance of what they are saying. I strongly encourage teaching self-love from an early age, so I emphasize the last line of the song “I LOVE ME!” with a big bear hug!
4. “Shake, shake my body” – this song and dance is so fun to watch the kids play with! The rhythm is much faster so it’s a good one to play if you see them falling asleep – they’ll figure out what the word ‘shake’ means by the end of the song! Start with your head and work your way down shaking all the various body parts separately with a ‘FREEZE!’ at the end of each ‘shaking session’. This is a good variation to start introducing more body vocabulary.
You’ll notice a difference right away in the children’s vocabulary retention as soon as you get them moving their bodies and repeating the same words in a variety of exercises. So next time you want to teach some vocabulary instead of just nailing your students down to their chairs and forcing them to memorize – give them some playful English language games that will encourage participation and repetition. Get their whole minds and bodies involved in the learning process and keep trying new variations until they get it!