VOCABULARY BEYOND THE DEFINITION

There are two basic ways to work with new vocabulary.  The first one and less effective is to memorize the translation of the target language word in the native language of the student.  The second one is to work with the target language word in the target language definition.  Both strategies have advantages and disadvantages through the second language acquisition lenses.  

We know now that there’s no better way to acquire a second language than when we take into account the context and when the words mean something to us, when they are relevant.  The following strategy I use in my instruction complies with these two CI requirements.

Here is how we do it:

1- While you can ask students to work on this activity individually, I recommend you allow them to work in groups of 3 or 4 students.  This activity is better when students have an opportunity to exchange ideas and make collective decisions.

2- Decide what new vocabulary words you would like to focus on and give 5 to 6 words to each group.  Take into account that this is a reinforcement activity so the students must have had at least an initial exposure to them.

3- Given our current virtual teaching reality I like to use Jamboard for this activity.

4- As you can see in the video and I will share the template with you, I write the words to work with at the top.  Students use sticky notes to do their part.

Click HERE to access a very simple Jamboar template for this activity. (make a copy)

5- So, instead or fimply translating or writing the definition of the word in the target language.  Their job is to connect each word with their reality.  In the case of the example in the short video I share here, they had to connect the word with something that happened in the story of Don Qujote we were reading.

Click HERE to see my AP Lit class Jamboard about Don Quijote

6- Make sure you ask students to not use the word at any moment but instead to refer to it in other ways.  For example, if the word is “coche” (car in Spanish) students can go beyond the translation or the definition by saying things like: 

1- Quiero conducir uno muy pronto. (I want to drive one soon)

2- Hay muchos en la calle y contaminan (There are many on the street and they contaminate)

7- If you are working with words from a specific reading then students can refer to the story or the article.  This not only helps vocabulary acquisition but also enhances their reading skills.

That ‘s it!  As always I welcome questions and kind comments here or you can email me to diego@srojeda.com 

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