Five Effective Strategies to Make Vocabulary Stick

Many experiments demonstrated that vocabulary forgetting starts as soon as learning happens. So what can be done? Research shows that there are some effective strategies teachers can use to help make vocabulary learning stick. The following are the main five of them:

1. Use peer explanation:

Ask students to explain what they’ve learned to their classmates. They can pronounce the words and explain their meanings. This strategy can not only increase retention but make vocabulary learning permanent in the long-term memory. In addition, it encourages active learning and students’ engagement.

2. Recycle the key vocabulary:

Review important vocabulary throughout the school year. Re-expose students to the previous vocabulary and give them multiple opportunities to use them in new contexts. Research shows that students perform better in their exam when they are given a brief review of what was covered several weeks before.

3. Give frequent practice tests:

In addition to regular review of the previous vocabulary, frequent practice tests on vocabulary can boost their long-term retention. Frequent practice tests protect against stress that often impairs memory performance. You can use a quick quiz at the start of each lesson to test your students’ knowledge of the vocabulary taught in the previous lessons. It is an effective remedial plan for low achievers who often forget vocabulary quickly.

4. Use word mapping:

Write a key word on the board or on a wall sheet and ask students to write related words or phrases to it. When similar words are grouped together, students will remember them more often. In addition, their stock of vocabulary will increase. This approach is helpful for students when writing a paragraph on certain topic.

5. Combine text with images:

It’s often easier to remember words that have been presented with visual aids. Visual aids can not only attract students’ attention, but also they can facilitate and reinforce learning. It’s easier to remember what’s been read and seen.

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