Monday, May 16, 2011

Vocabulary House

Purpose: This is an association activity and a memory aid that helps students retain new vocabulary.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Materials: markers, large sheets of paper, such as newsprint, one per student, pencils

Preparation: Gather materials. Think about the floor plan that you intend to draw on the board as a model.


1. Each student draws the basic floor plan of a house where he or she has many memories. The rooms/yard/gardens should be empty (no furniture) and large enough to write plenty of words in the empty spaces. Students use pencils initially, then trace over the lines with markers.

Demonstrate this activity first by drawing a simple floor plan of your own present or childhood home on the board. Model putting words into certain rooms and talk about the associations you’ve made. For example: “I put the word ‘traffic’ in the kitchen because that is the busiest room in my house. Everyone always ends up in the kitchen! It is the center of our family life.”

2. Students select a new word, associate it with a place in the floor plan they drew, and write the word in that room. Everyone will have a different association.

3. After they have done this with several words, students tell each other, in pairs or small groups, why they put each word where they did. When students tell one another why they put each new word in a particular room, they learn a lot about each other.

4. Students keep their Vocabulary House, adding words to it and talking with classmates about it throughout the unit or class.

5. Charts could also be posted on the wall, creating a “neighborhood”, while students continue to add to them.

Buidling Workplace Vocabulary

Purpose: To practice talking about jobs

Preparation: None


  1. Have students generate a list of jobs.
  2. Choose two to three job titles and have students suggest typical activities for this type of employment.
  3. Have students get in groups and pick one job and tell a story about a person, real or fictional. Example: Jenny is an assembly worker. Every day she puts things together. She must work very fast. She does the same job again and again. Sometimes her job is boring.
  4. Have students illustrate the actions or difficult vocabulary words in the story by drawing stick pictures, cutting pictures out of magazines or taking photos of people on the job.


  • Create a simple dialogue where one person asks basic questions about another person’s new job. Then have students practice the dialogue, pretending to be a nurse, or assembly worker or an accountant.
  • Practice word processing skills by typing up a story, printing it in large font and making a poster picture story with it.
  • Use a workforce Web site, such as, to find information about average salaries, benefits and educational requirements for each job.

Jigsaw Technique

Purpose: To practice reading comprehension; to practice speaking skills.

Preparation before class:

  1. Choose appropriate reading material to use with your students. Examples of good types of material for this activity include anecdotes or stories, stories told from two or three different viewpoints, fairy tales and information about different community services or different cities.
  2. Divide the material into sections. The number of sections you create depends on the type of material and on how many groups of students you would like.
  3. On a separate sheet of paper, write comprehension questions for the material so that 2-3 questions pertain to each section.
  4. Photocopy the material and then cut out each section separately. Make enough copies of each section so that each student can have one section (not one of each). Make one copy of the question sheet for each student.


  1. Distribute a section of the text and the questions to each learner. Learners read the text silently and then work with other students who have the same section to complete the questions. If your text is divided into sections A, B, and C, all the students with part A work together (AAAA groups). Explain to learners that they will not be able to answer all of the questions, only the ones that pertain to their part of the text.
  2. When students are ready, regroup the students so that each group forms a complete version of the text (ABC groups).
  3. In the new groups, each student summarizes or retells his/her part of the story, so that other students can answer the questions for that part. Students should not read the text to their group, nor show the4 group their question papers.
  4. When groups have finished, go over the comprehension questions as a whole class.


This activity can also be done with listening material if you have multiple cassette/CD players, can make copies of the sections of tape and have places where groups of students can go to listen to their section without letting other groups hear.