Teaching Vocabulary to EFL Learners

  • What is involved in knowing a word?

    I. Form

            1)   Spoken:

                   i.      What does the word sound like?

                   ii.      How is the word pronounced?

            2)   Written:

                    i.      What does the word look like?

                    ii.      How is the word written and spelled?

            3)   Word parts:

                    i.      What parts are recognizable in this word?

                    ii.      What word parts are needed to express the meaning?

    II. Meaning:

            1) Form and meaning:

                      i.      What meaning does this word form signal?

                      ii.      What word form can be used to express this meaning?

           2) Concepts and referents:

                       i.      What is included in this concept?

                       ii.      What items can the concept refer to?

           3) Associations:

                       i.      What other words does this make people think of?

                       ii.      What other words could people use instead of this one?

    III.  Use:

            1)  Grammatical functions

                             i. In what patterns does the word occur?

                             ii. In what patterns must people use this word?

            2)  Collocations

                              i.What words or types of words occur with this one?

                             ii.What words or types of words must people use with this one?

            3)  Constraints on use (register, frequency . . .)

                              i. Where, when, and how often would people expect to meet this word?

                              ii.Where, when, and how often can people use this word?

  • How should vocabulary be effectively taught to EFL learners?


  • Stage 1: Noticing and understanding new words

  • Introducing nouns, things, objects, animals, etc…

  • Introducing adjectives

  • Introducing abstracts

  • Stage 2: Recognizing new words


  • Bingo

  • Matching

  • Fill in the blanks (with options)

  • Stage 3: Producing vocabulary

  • Descriptions

  • Fill in the blanks (no options)

  • Mind maps or brainstorming

  • Guess what I’m thinking