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I use a number of strategies based on the best practices mentioned above; but, I also like to use games to encourage students to learn while interacting with each other. One game is to have all students sit in a circle and assume a new "name" with one of the vocabulary words. Write down all the words on the board for them to refer to during the game. A person in the middle must tag the person whose vocab name is called out by the teacher. (The teacher can call out definitions, too, if they so choose). Each student in the circle must call out another vocabulary name before getting tagged or they are the person in the middle. The person in the middle searches for the next person who owns the called out vocab word and can end up tagging a lot of students before finding the correct student. Lots of screams and laughs are had in this game!--and they learn the words, too. This is used exceptionally well with second language learners!
The best practice that is proposed for the teaching of vocabulary is to teach it within context, and not in an isolated manner. The reason is very simple: Students need to make connections in order to learn. These connections are text to text, text to self, and text to world.
If you introduce a word and its meaning with no background support to create a schema or a knowledge concept of it you will only succeed at having the student store the word momentarily in his short term memory with no opportunity to use the word nor apply it the way that it is supposed to be applied in everyday language.
However, separating the word and RE-applying it within a context help create those connections that are essential for learning. The link included will take you to some of Enotes current documents on Text to Text connections.
when adressing vocab to learners try and give them a pictured discription of the word in order for them to remember and understand and use the words taught to them.
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