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How to Apply ESA Method to Introduce New Vocabulary

In this article, you will be exposed to a typical ESA-structured vocabulary lesson for lower-level students.

Vocabulary is very important to students, especially at the early stages when students should learn the basic words they need to talk in the language.

As a rule, passive vocabulary (words the student knows but doesn’t use) is much larger than productive (words the student knows and uses)

The students can usually understand many more words than they can actively use.

Selecting Vocabulary

One of the biggest problems of vocabulary teaching is how to select which words to teach. Although the teacher is generally guided by the course and teacher’s book, the following criteria can be used:

  • Appropriate to the students and the task.
  • Frequent to use/come across the language and can it be applied to different situations.
  • Easy to teach.

Things Students Need to Know About a Vocabulary Item

There are four main things that students need to do with new vocabulary: understanding its meaning, how it is pronounced, understanding its form, and being able to use it.

  1. Meaning – what it means.
  2. Usage – how/when it is appropriate to use.
  3. Grammar – where it belongs.
  4. Pronunciation – how it is spoken.

Techniques For Vocabulary Teaching

We can easily apply the ESA method to introduce new vocabulary.


The following things can all be used to help engage the students and to elicit/explain the meaning:

  • Real objects.
  • Mime.
  • Actions.
  • Pictures.
  • Contrast.
  • Discussion.
  • Context.


The following study activities can help students practice new vocabulary:

  • Gap-fill exercises.
  • Word searches.
  • Crosswords.
  • Matching exercises.
  • Example sentences.
  • Pronunciation exercises such as drilling.
  • Study from texts and dialogues.


The activate stage of a vocabulary lesson may include such activities as

  • Open class, small group or pair discussion.
  • Role-play.
  • Simulation.
  • Story building.
  • Material production task (poster, advertisement, etc.)
  • Debate.

Here is a typical ESA-structured household furniture vocabulary lesson for lower-level students with the following learning objective:

At the end of the lesson, students will be able to use vocabulary associated with houses, rooms and furniture.


  • Ask students to share information about where they live, the type of house they live in, and the rooms they have.
  • Bring a picture of his/her house, or houses in general, for discussion.


  • Show a small text, or plays dialogue, of someone describing their house.
  • Check pronunciation, spelling, meaning, etc., with some of the study activities mentioned above.


  • Ask small groups or pairs of students to design their perfect house with furnishings.
  • Ask students to present their “dream” house to the class to have a discussion on the pros and cons of each house
  • Do voting on which house they would like to live in.

Please note that there are many other ways of achieving the same learning objective. Let us know your own in a comment below.

Thanks For Reading

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