The Teaching of New Vocabulary Items

Learning behaviours associated with the teaching of new vocabulary items:

There are certain learning behaviours that are associated with the teaching of new vocabulary items. These behaviours are:

  • recognizing the spoken and written forms of a word as well as knowing its meaning
  • pronouncing the word correctly
  • spelling it
  • using it

Types of vocabulary:

1- Passive vocabulary (Recognition only)

2- Active vocabulary (Pronounce, spell and use)

The type of vocabulary is decided by the course writer)

The sequence recommended for presenting the new vocabulary items:

1. Introduce the new word in context.

2. Explain or elicit the meaning.

3. Teach pronunciation.

4. Show the written form.

5. Teach the spelling of the productive words only.

6. Teach how to use the productive vocabulary.

Presenting the new vocabulary items:

  • new vocabulary items must never be presented in isolation.
  • a new word must always be presented in a context.
  • teachers should realize that the meaning of the word is determined by the context in which it is used.

Explaining the meaning of the new vocabulary items:

The following techniques are recommended for explaining the meaning of the new vocabulary items:

  • dramatization
  • synonyms
  • antonyms
  • drawings
  • actions
  • miming
  • objects (realia)
  • pictures
  • photographs
  • definitions
  • translation

Teaching the pronunciation of the new vocabulary:

  1. Ask the class to look at you while you say the word.
  2. Pronounce the word two or three times loudly and clearly.
  3. Ask the whole class to repeat after you.
  4. Ask each half of the class to repeat the word.   
  5. Ask each group to repeat the word after you.     
  6. Ask individual students with faulty pronunciation to repeat the word after you.

Displaying the written form of the new words:


• Writing the word on board.

  (The simplest and least expensive way)

• Using flashcards, overhead transparencies, Smartboards and PowerPoint Presentations, etc.


• Saving class time.

• Preparation of well-written words.

• Can be professionally prepared.

• Can be stored for future use.

• Can be useful for checking students’ recognition of the new vocabulary items.

Checking the students’ recognition of the new lexical items:

After presenting all the new vocabulary items, the teacher must check that the students can recognize the whole list of the new vocabulary items.


a) Pointing out words (on board)

b) Picking out objects (limited)

c) Action verbs (miming and students say the verb) – Interesting / Merry atmosphere.

Helping the students to learn how to spell the new vocabulary items:

a) Students look at the word to be spelt for a few seconds and then close their eyes and visualize the word.

b) Students then check the correctness of their visual image.

c) Cover the word and ask students to write down the word on a piece of paper (from memory).

d) Uncover the word so that students check their spelling.

e) Give immediate feedback (positive reinforcement).

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