Posted by: symmaruna | August 18, 2009

Ways of teaching vocabularies to beginners


Learning vocabs through magazines

Learning vocabs through magazines

Importance & Ways of Teaching Vocabulary to beginners

Vocabulary is, in fact, a back bone of a language. It refers to all those words that a person uses or knows in a particular language. Vocabulary is a set of lexemes, including single words, compound words and idioms. A good store of words is quite useful for understanding and well communication. The learners of English face different types of difficulties while learning English. One of the difficulties learners face in learning English relates to issues of expanding and building vocabulary.

A person who has a large number of active vocabularies can certainly become fluent in speaking and writing activities. On the contrary, a person having lack of vocabulary power, can not express his/her view vividly and perfectly. So, vocabulary is basic and essential aspect of language. It works as the building blocks of language learning. Without its general knowledge, it is not possible to learn language. In other words, without a range of vocabulary, a language can not be imagined.

Ways of teaching vocabulary to beginners

In the context of Nepal, learners/beginners are from different cultures, language, caste, religion etc. who start learning second language or foreign language i.e. English. They can’t understand explanation made in the target language. Likewise, if teachers teach them by translating in their native language, that interferes in fluency. Teaching young learners or beginners is the challenging job. Therefore, the teachers who teach to the beginners or in primary level should use different techniques for teaching new vocabulary. In the same way, the teachers can also use different language games, action, gestures, mimes, facial expressions, etc. They should be creative, co-operative, reflective and innovative. They should be acquainted with modern technologies, child psychology ad theories of language learning. The teachers should also use sufficient teaching aids such as tape recorder, cassette player, pictures, cards, reolia, etc to make their teaching effective. Likewise, the teachers should have the knowledge of correct pronunciation of each word so that learners can learn and pronounce the words correctly.

Some common ways of teaching vocabulary

1.   Use of realia

Realia refers to real objects or things. Generally, any objects of things that can be carried out into the school to represent the meaning. For example, glass, plate apple, toys, eggs, cap, etc. These materials are easily available in the locality. Hence, realia is used to teach concrete words.

2.   Use of matchstick figure

Matchstick figure is also known as pinmen. It refers to simple sketch rather than a real picture drawn in fully artistic manner. Teachers can make it in no longer time in classroom. These are especially used for teaching action verbs. For example:

3.   Use of Pictures

Objects that can not be brought easily into the classroom and objects are unavailable in the locality can be represented by using pictures. Pictures can be collected from different books, magazines, newspapers, etc. Pictures of dogs, snakes, clothing, etc also can be represented.

4.   Synonyms

Synonyms are the words that refer more or less the same meaning or thing. So, new words can be taught by giving synonyms. For example:

able – capable

communicate – talk


Antonyms refer to the opposite meaning. By giving the opposite meaning, students can be taught the meaning of new vocabulary. For example:

hot – cold

sharp – blunt

6.   Translation

We can teach vocabulary by rendering English word to Nepali word or in learners’ native language. It is easy and quick process to present the meaning of words. This process can be used when there is no easy alternative way to present the meaning. It is better to give the mother tongue equivalent so that students can realize the meanings of the words e.g.  dog – kukur.

7.   Definition

Some words especially in advance level can be taught by giving their definition. For example:

factory – A building or group of buildings where goods are made.

8.   Demonstration

Some words especially feelings and emotions can be best taught by demonstration. Demonstration here refers to the actions done by the teacher, for example, facial expressions, gestures or body movements, pretence of some actions, etc.

To teach the meaning of hunger, the teacher can look at the time, keep his/her hands on his/her stomach and say it is 11 o’ clock. I’m feeling hungry. To teach the meaning of mad, the teacher has to do some abnormal behavior what mad does. Similarly, smiling, laughing, crying can be taught by demonstrating facial expression.

9.   Presenting lexical set/Enumeration

Sets of related words can be presented to refer to the meaning of the cover term as well as to the words involved in the same group. e.g. the concept of fruit can be taught showing a set of words or hyponyms like apple, banana, orange, pomegranate, etc.

10. Games

Language games help to avoid the monotonous learning process. Learning becomes prolonged because of learning vocabulary with a funny way. So, vocabulary also can be taught through games. Some of the games are presented below:

a.   memory game

b.   bingo game

c.   jumbled letters game

d.   crossword puzzle game

e.   sound chain game

f.    Word association game, etc.

11. Audio – Technique

Audio – technique is very much under – used way of signaling the meaning of a word. Many words can be more easily presented by a tape recording than the above mentioned ways. For example: birds chirping, dog’s barking, river gurgling, the noise of aeroplane, etc.

Thus the learning a foreign language is basically a matter of learning the vocabulary of that language. Not being able to find the words to express ourselves is the most frustrating experience in speaking another language. So, the teachers can teach vocabulary including the above mentioned ways or techniques.


Harmer, J. 202, How to teach Vocabulary

Sharma, U.N. 2004 ELT Methods and Practice, Kirtipur, Kathmandu: Atal Academic Center

Wallace, M.J. 1989, Teaching Vocabulary, London: HEBL

By Sunita Manandhar



  1. nice to see yr new blog i like it very much.this is the good symbol for going ahead i wish u through my heart. i did not read at all but i read it surfacely. if u dont mind me i can leave some short comments. then see the sub title SOME COMMONWAY OF TEACHING VOCABULARY




    • thanks

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