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TEFL Teaching Tip: Teaching Vocabulary


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TEFL Teaching Tip: Teaching Vocabulary

TEFL Teaching Tip:  Teaching Vocabulary
Admin - Feb 01 2016

Teaching vocabulary is always emphasized as one of the most important teaching skills. 

The following presentation provide a step-by-step how to construct different types of teaching vocabulary in an TEFL classroom.

Objectives: To teach you how to present, practice, elicit, and check new vocabulary

Techniques for Eliciting New Vocabulary


Study one of the following techniques and present it to your group.

  1. 1.      Visuals:

Example: a car (A4 card or blackboard)


Example athletic (Magazine picture)


  1. 2.      Mine:

Example: cold

T: mines feeling cold

T asks, “How do I feel?”

Example: (to) fly a kite

T mimes flying a kite

T asks, “what am I doing?”

  1. 3.      Realia:

Example: bananas (count), rice (uncount)

T: brings real bananas and rice into class.

T: asks, “What’s this?”

Example: open (adj), closed (adjective)

T: opens and closes the door.

T: says, “Tell me about the boor. It’s…what?)

  1. 4.      Situation/Explanation

Example: honest

T: explains, “I don’t tell lies. I don’t cheat in the exam. I tell the truth.”

T: asks, “What am I? Tell me the word in Vietnamese.” Good. Now listen to it in English “Honest”

  1. 5.      Example:

Example: furniture

T: lists examples for furniture

“Tables, chairs, beds –these are all (furniture)…Give me another example of …(furniture).


Example (to) complain

T: says “The bed is too hard. I don’t like it. The room is too small. It’s no good (etc)”

T: asks “What am I doing?”


  1. 6.      Synonym/Antonym


Example: intelligent

T: asks “what is another word for clever?”

Example: stupid

T: asks, “What’s the opposite of clever?”

  1. 7.      Translation

Example: (to) forget

T: asks, “How do you say “quên” in English?”

Adapted from ELTTP Methodology Course, Book one, pp. 1-2.

Steps for Presenting Vocabulary


Watch the demo and “label” each step. The first one is an example.



Trainer’s example

Trainer’s step

T: (show realia)T: What’s this? Tell me in VietnameseSs: Cái g??ng

Elicits the new word using realia

T: listen. A mirror…a mirror…a mirror.


T: Everybody repeat.Ss: a mirrorT: again


Ss: a mirror


T: HaiHai: A mirrorT: Lan


Lan: A mirror


T: say it again. No. listen to meA mirror….a mirrorS: a mirror


T: Copy thisWho knows the word in Vietnamese?Come and write it.


T: Which is strong? Do I say ‘mirror or mir’ror?


After other words have been taughtT: erases the word, leaves the translation.T: What’s this again? Can you remember?



Techniques for Checking Vocabulary


Match the checking techniques with the descriptions. A is an example




Guess the picture


Jumbled words






Noughts and crosses




Rub out and remember


Slap the board


What and where








  1. A.    (Rub out and remember)

Teaching goal: to help students memorize new vocabulary.

  1. Present or elicit the new vocabulary and build up a list on the blackboard.
  2. After each word put the Vietnamese translation.
  3. Get the trainees to copy into their books and then ask them to close their books.
  4. Rub out the new words one at a time.
  5. Each time you rub out a word in English, point to the Vietnamese and ask. “What’s this in English?”
  6. When all the English words are rubbed out, go through the Vietnamese list and get the trainees to call out the English word.


  1. B.     (Slap the board)

Teaching goal: to get students recognize new vocabulary through listening

To check students understanding the meaning of new vocabulary

  1. Ask three or four students to be observers and ask them to follow your steps and say why it is a useful technique.
  2. Put the new words all over the board – not in a list.
  3. If you want to check understanding, put the Vietnamese translation of the new words or pictures on the board.
  4. Call 2 students or call 2 tams of trainees to the front of the class
  5. Ask them to stand at an equal distance form the blackboard
  6. Call out one of the new words in a loud voice
  7. The two students must run forward and slap the words on the blackboard.
  8. The one who slaps the correct word first is the winner.
  9. If you are playing in teams, the winning team gets a mark.
  10. Then ask two more students to come forward, etc.

Notes: There are two points to remember in SLAP THE BOARD. If you use only English, learners are recognizing the words through listening. However, if you use Vietnamese translation or pictures, you can check the meaning of the new vocabulary.

  1. C.    What and Where

Teaching goal: To help student’s memories new vocabulary or to revise vocabulary.

  1. Follow the same procedure as the RUB and REMEMBER and SLAP THE BOARD; choose observers.
  2. Elicit words to do with the classroom from the students.
  3. As the students five you the word, write it on the blackboard inside a circle.
  4. Do not write the words in a list.
  5. When all the words are on the blackboard, rub out one of the words but do not rub out the circle.
  6. Get the students to repeat the word including the rubbed-out word by pointing at the empty circle.
  7. Rub out another word but leave the circle.
  8. Point to the words or the empty circle.
  9. The students read or remember the words.
  10. Continue until all the circles are empty.
  11. The students now have to remember all the words.
  12. Ask the students (6 or 8 at a time) to come to the blackboard and fill in the circles with the correct words.

Get up

Have lunch

Watch TV

Go to school

Get dressed

  1. D.    Matching

Teaching goal: to get students to match the new vocabulary with definitions, translations of pictures. To save time, pre-teaching…

  1. Write the new words in a list on the left hand side on the board.
  2. Write definitions, translations, or draw pictures, on the right hand side of the board.
  3. Get students to come up to the board and “match” items in the left hand list with the item in the right hand list by drawing a line between them.
  4. Four or five students can work at the board at the same time.
  5. Check answers by asking the class, “Do you agree?”


(to) cook











(to) swim














(to) sew









(to) drive a car



  1. E.     (Guess the Picture)

Teaching goal: to get a lot students to practice saying the new words in a meaningful way.

  1. Make A4 pictures of the new words you are going to teach.
  2. Put the picture in a pile
  3. Get the students to come to the front and choose one of the pictures.
  4. Make sure nobody else can see which picture has been chosen.
  5. Get the rest of the class to guess which picture it is.
  6. Students ask, “is it a …?”
  7. The first student to guess the picture correctly comes up to the front, chooses a new picture and the game continues.
  8. F.     (Ordering)

Teaching goal: to get students recognize the pronunciation of new words and give them listening practice.

  1. Teach the new words and write them on the board in wrong order.
  2. Get the students to copy the words in their books.
  3. Read or tell a story with the new words in it. Get the students to put the words in the correct order by numbering them.


(to) get up


(to) go to bed


(to) feed


(to) work


(to) plant


(to) grow





Long works on a farm. He plants the rice. He feeds the animals. He grows vegetables. He gets up early and goes to bed late.

  1. Bingo

Teaching goal: To get students to practice listening to new words and to match sounds with spelling

  1. The teacher gets the class to brainstorm a list of ten or fifteen new words and puts them on the board.
  2. The students choose any five and copy them into their books.
  3. The teacher reads out the words in any order.
  4. Each time, the student has one of the words that the teacher reads. He or she puts a tick next to that word.
  5. The first student to tick all five words shouts “Bingo!!!”
  6. H.    Noughts and Crosses

Teaching goal: to get students to put new vocabulary into sentence.

  1. The teacher puts a grid on the board with nice new words in it.
  2. The students work in pairs. ONE of the students copies the grid  in his or her book.
  3. One student is “noughts” (“O” and the other is “X”).
  4. One student starts. He or she chooses a word and makes a sentence with it. If the sentence incorrect, he or she puts her mark “o” or “x” in the square.
  5. The first student to get three in a row (across, down, diagonally) wins.












S1: “coal”. Coal is found in Quang Ninh

S2: “rice”. Rice is grown in Vietnam

S1: “tea”. Tea is grown in Thai Binh

S2: “silk”. Silk is made in Ha Dong

S1. “Sugar”. Sugar is produced in the south.

  1. I.       Jumbled Words

Teaching goal: to get students to practice spelling new words.

  1. The teacher writes 5 or 6 words with jumbled letters on the board and tells the students the topic is.
  2. Students write the words correctly in their books.
  3. Students come to the board to write the correct words there to see if everyone agrees.

Example topic: Clothes

Rsesd    ldaanss     rihts     etuosrsr   ktsir

  1. Networks

Teaching goal: to get students to revise lexical sets

To put words from different lessons into one context so students remember them.

  1. Write the network like in the example on the board and put some more words below
  2. Don’t use just concrete nouns – remember to include some verbs.
  3. Get the students to put the given words in the appropriate circles.
  4. Students fill in the remaining empty circles with their own words.


Living room





(to) eat    a sofa   (to) cook   (to) get dressed   a knife    (to) sleep   ricea shower    a bed

  1. K.    Wordsquare

Teaching goal: To get students to recognize the spelling of new words.

  1. The teacher writes the word square on the board or makes a poster of it.
  2. The teacher tells the students what the topic is and how many hidden words there are. The students come to the board and circle any word they can see.
  3. L.     Wordstorm

Teaching goal: to get students to put new vocabulary into sentence.

  1. Get students to work in pair and brainstorm all the words they know on a topic, e.g., “vegetable”.
  2. Students A thinks of a word and tell student B.
  3. Both students write down the word.
  4. Student B thinks of another word, tells student A and they both write it down.
  5. When they have thought of all the words they can, put two pairs together to share their lists.
  6. One pair reads to the other pair who ticks off the same words or adds any new words. The group with the most word is the winner.

(ELTTP Methodology Course, Book one, pp. 8-13)

Instructions: tick the purposes of the vocabulary checking techniques.

Teaching/learning goal


Understanding the meaning



Recognize in conversation


Speak in sentences

Remember long term









Rub out and remember
















Slap the board
















Guess the picture
















Noughts and Crosses








What & Where
















Jumble words









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