Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Vocabulary Games for IELTS

(TESOL Ideas--Vocabulary, IELTS)
Google: docs, pub
[This worksheet is part of a workshop I did called "Making IELTS Fun".  I'll be posting the complete workshop soon.]

Vocabulary Games

Building vocabulary is one of the keys to success in IELTS.  One of the major reasons students struggle on the reading and listening test is because of vocabulary related issues.
You should never pre-teach vocabulary before an IELTS reading or listening lesson.  Students need to learn how to deal with unknown vocabulary for the real test.
However, after the reading or listening lesson is finished, you can do use the vocabulary from the reading or listening text to do some vocabulary building.  (You could also teach useful phrases for speaking/writing, in which case you could do it after the model text, but before the production).
The words can be selected by the teacher beforehand (which is useful in case you want to prepare materials) but alternatively, the students can also tell the teacher which words they want to practice more.
Once you have a set of vocabulary words to study, then there are hundreds of different games you can use.  Some examples:

Backs to the Board
Students are divided into two teams.  One person from each team sits with their back to the whiteboard.  The vocabulary word is put up on the whiteboard where the participants can’t see it.  Their teammates must describe the vocabulary word to them without using the word itself.  The first person to correctly identify the word gets a point for their team.

Grab the Card
Students are put into groups, and given a set of cards with one vocabulary word written on each card.  The teacher describes a vocabulary word (without saying the word itself) and the students compete to be the first in their group to grab the card.
In round 2, the students describe the card.  One person from each group is designated as the “describer”, and they must describe the word, while their other groupmates compete to grab the correct card.

Guess My Word
Students are put into groups.  Each group member is given a list of cards with vocabulary words on it.  They must describe these words to their groupmates without saying the actual word itself. The groupmates try to guess what the card is.
Alternatively, to increase the challenge this could be played as Taboo--each card also contains a short list of words that you cannot use when describing the vocabulary word.

Quizlet Live or Kahoot
Put the words into a quizlet live or Kahoot study set, and the students play the game with their ipads or smart phones.

….and many other vocabulary games will work as well.  Feel free to share your own ideas.

I’ve discovered from personal experience that these games can fall apart quickly if the students don’t actually know any of the words.  Although these games should all be done after the reading/listening, just because the students have encountered the words in the text does not guarantee that they’ve learned them.  It’s always a good idea to do a quick meaning-form-pronunciation mini-lesson on the selected vocabulary before launching into the games.

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