As I promised…. 🙂
I love sharing cool things with you, so here goes:
One consideration in using the context is to determine the unknown
word’s part of speech. The words around the unknown word give you clues. Once
you know if the word is a noun or if it is an adjective, it often is enough for
you to continue reading intelligently without having to stop to look up the
meaning of the word. After coming across the word a few more times, you will
know its meaning more firmly than if you had just looked it up.
In the following sentences, identify the part of speech of the
italicized words by writing N if the word is a noun, V if the italicized word
is a verb, Adj if the italicized word is an adjective, or Adv if the italicized
word is an adverb.
Example: She liked to wear red and always wore jewelry made of carnelian.
Give it a try!
1. The dirty old man gave the young woman a salacious look.
2. The president prayed for the sagacity to make the right
decision in the face of many alternatives.
3. The man looked at the rusty old gadget and wondered how
its mechanism worked.
4. The dying man designated his son to receive his property.
5. The brindled dog barked loudly.
6. The father caressed his crying child with great
7. “Don’t patronize us; we are not children!” said the
angry indigenous leaders to the politicians.
8. John was a good emanuensis, always taking dictation
correctly and typing up all of his employer’s correspondence.
9. The boy was disappointed by the paltry amount he received
as an inheritance when his grandfather died.
10. The young boy ran clumsily
down the hill with his arms and legs flapping all over.
By: Frank Gerace
By: Frank Gerace
The meaning of unknown words which you come across in your reading
sometimes can be known by their surroundings, that is, their contexts. The
context of the sentence can tell us the part of speech of the unknown word.
Using the context of the paragraph to define unknown words can also helpful.
Although it takes practice, it is the easiest and most efficient way to identify words. Often, using the context is the only way to figure out the meaning of the word as it is used in the sentence, passage, or chapter.
Consider the word “bar”. Bar is a common word. But
without surrounding words, you don’t know if it describes soap, a place that
serves beer, a sand formation at the beach, a way to lock the door, or…
Readers often have trouble because they identify the literal but
incorrect meaning of a word when they should identify the way it was used in
the passage. The following sections will give you more explanation and some
exercises on how to get help on the meaning of unknown words by checking their
part of speech and their place in context.
In the following posts you will learn variouse ways of understanding words as you read.
Register to this site for free, and learn how to speak English easily:
Games for Recycling Vocabulary
markkoprowski [at] yahoo.com
Learning is remembering. If we respect this axiom, the review and recycling of new language items will be
critical if they stand a chance of becoming readily accessible in long-term
memory. In fact, students do the majority of their forgetting shortly after the
lesson and then the rate of forgetting diminishes. To avoid this lexical
vanishing act, one solution offered is to follow the ‘principle of expanding
rehearsal’. This idea suggests that learners review new words shortly after
they are presented, and then at increasingly longer intervals. To stimulate
long-term memory then, ideally, words would be reviewed 5-10 minutes after
class, 24 hours later, one week later, one month later, and finally six months
later. Teachers might even consider doing a quick review of words and phrases
which were introduced just a short while ago in the lesson. But unless these
new language items are noticed and understood on multiple occasions, they will
likely fade from memory and be forgotten.
Experts these days concur that learners actually need as many as 5 to 16
‘meetings’ with a new language item in a variety of contexts before it can be
truly learned and activated for genuine use. Teachers then can help solidify
new words in long-term memory by creating regular opportunities in their
learning program that encourage students to make form-meaning connections of
new vocabulary items. Both repetition and retrieval practice of new items are
key. In my experience, this is best achieved by organizing fun, competitive,
and motivating vocabulary games and activities which adhere to the expanding
rehearsal mentioned above. Over the past decade, I’ve put together a variety of
sure-fire and engaging vocabulary recycling activities drawn from a number of
sources: resource books, teachers, trainers, and some of which are of my own
invention. Give them a try, and have your students start remembering today.
1. Taboo (aka Hot Seat)
Divide the class into Teams A and
B. Team A sits in a group on one side of the classroom, Team B sits on the
other side. Bring two chairs to the front of the room so that when seated, a
student is facing his or her respective team and their back is to the
blackboard or white board. One member from each team sits in their team’s
chair. The teacher writes a word, phrase, or sentence on the board. The
students in the chairs mustn’t see what’s written on the board. Once the
teacher yells ‘go’, the teams have one minute, using only verbal clues, to get
their seated teammate to say the item written on the board. The only rule (or
taboo) is that they MUSTN’T say the item written on the board, in full or part.
The first student in the hot seat to utter the word scores a point for their
team. When the round is over, two new team players are rotated into the hot
seat and a new item is written up. The first team to score X number of points
Variation: To ensure a slightly quieter and less chaotic game, the teams can
take it in turns. Rather than two students in the hot seat, only one member
from each team plays at a time. The teacher as usual scribbles a word on the
board and gives the team one minute to get their teammate to say the item. If
the hot-seated player manages to say the word, the teacher quickly writes
another item on the board and so on until the minute is up. The team scores a
point for every item they manage to say within one minute.
2. Memory Challenge
Put the students into pairs or
small groups. Give them a time limit (e.g. 3 minutes) and ask them to write
down as many words, phrases, and/or expressions as they can from the last
lesson on topic X. The pair or group that can remember the most items wins.
Variation: To add a spelling accuracy component, teams can also earn an
extra point for each correctly spelt item.
3. Last One Standing
Give the class a topic (e.g. food,
clothes, animals, things in a kitchen) and ask them to stand up, in a circle if
possible. Clap out a beat and say, one, two, three, followed by a topic-related
word. After the next three beats, the next student in the circle gives a word
related to the topic, and so it continues. Anyone who can’t think of a word or
repeats a word already said has to sit down and it’s the next person’s turn.
The winner is the last one standing.
Divide the class into Teams A and
B. Team A sits in a group on one side of the classroom, Team B sits on the
other side. One member from each team goes to the board. The teacher flashes
them a word, phrase, or expression written on a piece of paper. The students
have one minute to get their respective team to say the item only by drawing
pictorial clues on the board. Written words, verbal clues, or gestures are
forbidden. The first team to say the word scores a point.
Variation: The teams review their notes from prior lessons, and collectively come
up with a list of items the other team will have to draw.
The teacher writes up 10 words,
phrases and/or expressions on the board. Each student chooses any 5 of the
items from the board and writes them down. The teacher then selects one of the
items at random (bits of paper from a hat, for example) and offers a brief
definition or synonym of the item but does not say the word itself. If a
student thinks they have the word the teacher described, they tick it. When a
student ticks all of their words, they shout BINGO!! The first student to shout
BINGO wins the round. Additional rounds can be played with different sets of
Divide the class into Teams A and
B. The teacher assigns each team a particular topic (e.g. sports, vehicles,
things in an office) which is to be kept secret from the other team. Each team
meets for 5 minutes in private and collectively draws up a list of ten items
related to the topic. After the lists are made, the game begins. The teacher
tells Team A the name of Team B’s topic. Team A then has one minute to try to
guess the items on Team B’s list (hence producing a noisy outburst). The
members of Team B must listen and tick the items which Team A manages to guess.
For every word Team A guesses correctly, they score a point. For every word
they miss, Team B gets a point. After the points are recorded, it’s Team B’s
turn to guess Team A’s list. Additional rounds can be played with different
topics assigned by the teacher. The first team to score X number of points
Divide the class into small
groups. Each group is given a set of cards which are spread out on the table
face-down. The sets are made up of two kinds of cards: word cards +
definition/picture cards. Students in turn pick up a card, turn it over, and
try matching it to its corresponding card. If there’s no match, the cards are
returned to their original place on the table and play passes to the next
student. If a match is made, the student keeps the pair and tries to make
another match. Once all the cards are matched, the winner is the player who has
matched the most number of cards.
Variation: Rather than using word + definition/picture cards, students
can match the first and second half of common phrases, expressions, idioms or
other multi-word lexical items; e.g. “have” on one card, “a good
time” on the other card.
8. Scrambled Letters
Write up eight words with their
letters shuffled (e.g. eicscen for science) on the board. When the teacher says
‘go’, the students, individually or in pairs, endeavor to untangle the words as
quickly as they can. The first student or pair, to do so wins. The teacher can
then quickly run through each of the scrambled letter groups on the board,
eliciting information about each word or concept. Tip: Don’t make them too
Variation: Phrases, expressions, and idioms larger than 2 words can also be
used (e.g. “you’re having when time flies fun” for “time flies
when you’re having fun”.)
9. Q & A
Write up two separate word lists
on the board; an A list and a B list. Assign half the class the A list and the
other half list B. Each student takes each word from their list and
contextualizes it into a coherent question. Ideally, the question should
demonstrate some understanding of the word (e.g. Is your family very
hospitable?, NOT What does hospitable mean?). If students need help, they can
consult the teacher, their notes, or their textbook. When the students have
finished writing their questions, As and Bs pair up and exchange their list of
questions. The students read each question and write an answer to the question
on the same piece of paper. In their answer, they need to use the same word
that is underlined in the question. After the answers are written, the papers
are exchanged again and read by the original student.
Student A’s question: Are there any skyscrapers in New York City?
Student B’s answer: Yes, New York City has several
10. Categories (aka The Alphabet Game)
Divide the class into 3 or 4 teams
and assign a secretary for each group. On one side of the board, write down six
categories related to the current topic or syllabus of your course (e.g.
countries, sports, jobs, movies, furniture, verbs, things that are round). To
start the game, the teacher randomly selects a letter of the alphabet and
scribbles it onto the board. Each team must then work together to quickly find
a word for each of the six categories that starts with the chosen letter. The
first team to complete all six categories shouts “stop!” The class
then stops writing, and a member of the team goes to the board to fill in the
categories. The teacher then checks each word with the class and also elicits
what other teams had for each category. If the quickest team has filled in each
category correctly, they earn one point for their team. The teacher then
chooses a different letter and another round is played. The first team to score
X number of points wins.
- Baddeley, A. 1990.
Human Memory: Theory and Practice. Needham
Allyn and Bacon.
- Beck, I.L., M.G.
McKeown and R.C. Omanson. 1987. The effects and use of diverse vocabulary
instruction techniques. In. M.G. McKeown and M.E. Curtis (Eds.) The
Nature of Vocabulary Acquisition: 147-63. Hillsdale,
- Bloom, K.C. and
Shuell, T.J. 1981. ŒEffects of massed and distributed practice on the
learning and retention of second-language vocabulary‚, Journal of
Educational Research, 74, 245-248
- Gairns R. and S.
Redman. 1986. Working with Words. Cambridge:
- Nation, I.S.P. 1990.
Teaching and Learning Vocabulary. New
York: Newbury House.
- Nation, I.S.P. 2001.
Learning Vocabulary in Another Language. Cambridge:
- Pimsleur, P. 1967. ‘A
memory schedule’. Modern Language Journal 51/2: 73-5
- Thornbury, S. 2002.
How to Teach Vocabulary. Pearson ESL.
The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. XII, No. 7, July 2006
Here are some useful sites for parents and teachers:
1. This site is designed to support teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to
elementary school students. On this site you will find fun and exciting
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play fun flash games for the classroom, and print your own customized worksheets
and flashcards. You can also download PowerPoint presentations and use fun
2. Here you will find free & printable word games, phonics games, reading games,
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3. This site is for children. It has fun activities which are based on a systematic phonics approach, in conjunction with phonemic awareness. Practice is perfect for preschool, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, special
education, homeschool, and English language development.
4. Reading A-Z offers thousands of printable teacher materials to teach leveled reading, phonemic awareness, reading comprehension, reading fluency, alphabet, and vocabulary. The teaching resources include professionally developed downloadable leveled books, lesson plans, worksheets, and reading assessments.
5. here you will find a variety of exercises and ideas for EFL learners.
6. This site has quality Hands-On Early Childhood, Kindergarten, Preschool and Early Primary Teaching Resources.. All ready to print
7. Great lesson plans and flashcards for all levels!
8. This site contains many english activities for Jewish holidays!
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11. Here you will find English exercises for all levels. From survival English to business English 🙂
12. absolutely amazing! for pupils as well as teachers and parents!
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14. Vocabulary. vocabulary, vocabulary- and much more!
This blog is for parents, teachers and students of all levels.
Learning English can be fun. I guaranty that you would find the information here very useful.
Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!
Here are some suggestions for your first post.
- You can find new ideas for what to blog about by reading the Daily Post.
- Add PressThis to your browser. It creates a new blog post for you about any interesting page you read on the web.
- Make some changes to this page, and then hit preview on the right. You can alway preview any post or edit you before you share it to the world.