Do you give vocabulary quizzes?
Submitted by Susan Finn Miller on October 19, 2014 - 10:51pm
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Hello friends, I have posted previously about how I approach teaching academic vocabulary. I have drawn ideas from the work of several theorists and researchers including Isabel Beck and her colleagues and Susanna Dutro and Kate Kinsella. First of all, I explain the new word using student-friendly language rather than a dictionary definition. Let's look at dictionary.com's definition of the word convenient: "suitable or agreeable to the needs or purpose; well-suited with respect to facility or ease in use; favorable, easy, or comfortable for use." I'm sure you would agree with me that this dictionary definition is not very student-friendly. Instead I would say, "Convenient is something that is useful, easy or quick to do."
I want to choose similarly easy-to-understand explanations for academic words. For the academic word section, I explain that a section is a part or piece of something. Next, I give the students several examples of how the word is typically used. For example, an orange can be divided into sections or parts. Each piece of the orange is one section. A theater and a stadium are divided into sections. Books and magazines have sections. A newspaper has several sections, including a section for local news and a section for sports.
After that, I give the students conversation and writing practice by posing several questions that have relevance in their lives such as the following:
1. Which section of the newspaper do you like to read?
2. In which section of the supermarket would you find apples?
3. Which section of an orchestra do you most enjoy listening to?
4. Is it hard for you to believe that planes used to have a smoking section? Why or why not?
I also give the students sentence frames to scaffold and help them get started with using the new vocabulary to respond to the questions.
Later, after we've studied 8-10 words, I give the students a quiz in which they respond to similar questions in writing.
My advanced ESL students generally study for these quizzes and they do well, but this is not true for all. For the one or two who do not do well, I give them the chance to do the quiz over again, if they want to.
Do you give vocabulary quizzes? Do students welcome the quizzes? What do you think of giving students the do-over option? Please share your ideas with us here!
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