Strategies for Teaching Vocabulary

Pre-reading lesson plans involve learning how to use a variety of vocabulary games and activities.

There is no limit to how many vocabulary activities a teacher can use, but there is a bit of restriction as to how to use them, especially during the first ten minutes of a reading lesson otherwise known as a 'pre-reading' part of the lesson plan.

Using Vocabulary in a Pre-Reading Lesson

Vocabulary activities can easily start off a pre-reading lesson. When it comes to using vocabulary activities, a pre-reading lesson should contain some if not all, of the new vocabulary. Some ideas include: starting with a brainstorm, comics, a quotation, a dialogue or a sentence as lead-in.

Read more at Suite101: Strategies for Teaching Vocabulary: Vocabulary Games and Activities, A Pre-Reading Lesson Plan |

Teaching Vocabulary Strategies

When a text may have too many challenging or difficult words, a teacher may want to employ a variety of techniques such as translation, picture matching, or explaining the new vocabulary in context. Pre-teaching vocabulary helps:

  • learners focus on the subject of the text
  • teachers predict the content of the text using the target vocabulary.

This pre-reading section of the lesson should take approximately ten minutes. Then, when the text is being read to the students, the teacher has the chance to either confirm the students' predictions or, to go straight to the main reading task depending on what was previously done.

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Fun Vocabulary Games and Activities

There are also pre-reading lessons that are based on vocabulary review. Essentially, these act like warm-ups that have the effect of calming the class and help you get ready for the main task at hand. There are a variety of fun vocabulary activities that have game-like features that are very motivating:

  • "I'm thinking of" - You give the class a few definitions corresponding to a 5-6 vocabulary words and the students guess the word.
  • The teacher whispers the word and the students try and recognize the word.
  • The teacher spells the word backwards and the students try and recognize the word.
  • Bingo using the words. The teacher calls out the definitions or translations.

If the teacher feels that an adequate amount of practice via these recognition activities has been reached, s/he can opt for more challenging vocabulary games and activities that aim to reduce fear and hesitancy that is sometimes characteristic of language learners studying a language that isn't their mother tongue. Examples:

  • The telephone game or otherwise known as: "What word did you say?"
  • Mini-Dialogues: students are given a situational context and they need to use the vocabulary.
  • Dictations: students fill in a sentence using a choice from three words the teacher says.

Over to You:

Take a look at the pre-reading part of your reading plan. Do you have varied vocabulary activities and games? Which ones have you tried? Which ones would you like to try? Try keeping a journal of those vocabulary lessons that went successfully and always aim for new and different ways to motivate your students to learn vocabulary.

Read more at Suite101: Strategies for Teaching Vocabulary: Vocabulary Games and Activities, A Pre-Reading Lesson Plan |


                Warm up is one of important activities in English teaching. If we start the lesson by encouraging our students active, it is a good way to teach them and they will be happy when we teach. Vocabulary is a main part of reading teaching. Therefore, we should enhance students to learn vocabulary through games, songs, etc. activities-a31127