Pictures are a great way to reinforce different meanings of a word.
The way I like to teach vocabulary is through Powerpoint
presentations. The students respond well to visuals, especially when
they are digital/include technology. I have made presentations that
show each new word with a picture. When we use them to review (on a
daily basis), I will model the word in Spanish, the students will
repeat it, and then I ask them what it means in English. We do this
all together as a class, so every student is practicing speaking and
listening. I could see adding basic sentences to each slide to put the
word in context – you’re right, it’s important for students to see
examples of how to use the word in context. (have students create pics
and put them on overheads/computer image on projector)
One idea that I found useful when working with new words is to have
the students use it in a sentence. However, I provided them with the
sentence stem. For example, I would give them “I knew the tree was
tall because………”. Otherwise, when I would have students make
their own sentences I would get sentences that didn’t really show that
they knew the meaning of the word. They would come up with things like
“My dad is tall.” ” The book is tall.”
Another idea is to have the students come up with antonyms and
synonyms for the words. Also, I would have them draw a picture of the
word if it was a noun. If it was a verb, have them draw an example of
the verb in action.
One activity I used to teach using adjectives was to give them lists
of words that contain adjectives, adverbs,nouns,and verbs and ask them
to use these words to write sentences about themselves or their
classmates.Then by the end they exchange the cards and each student
read what his collague wrote about him/her . Then I asked all the
students to correct others mistakes and explain the proper way of
using the adjectives .
One activity I use to teach grammar are verb cards that are
implemented by all teachers in the foreign language department. Each
card represents one verb, and has a spot to conjugate it in all
tenses. In Spanish 1, we teach the students to conjugate each verb in
the present tense, and memorize the meaning of the verb in the
infitive form. One side of the card shows a picture or drawing to
represent the verb. The image is chosen by the student, so it provides
meaning to the word, and makes it easier to memorize. The other side
shows all of the verb conugations, which are written by the student in
class with the help of the teacher. These verb cards are great tools
for learning and keep all of the verb information in one place during
all levels of Spanish. The department orders professionally printed
verb cards on 5X7 white notecards, and the students purchase them from
the student store for $3. We teach 90 verbs, and the verb lists stay
the same from Spanish1-Spanish AP. Each year we teach new verb tense
conjugations. The students are responsible for filling out the
conjugations and translations in class, and we help them with ideas
for the picture, but ultimately they either find a picture on the
internet, draw one, use clip art, or use a photograph that they took
so that they choose the image. Sometimes they complain about it
because it is a lot of writing, and they have to put time into finding
a picture, but they really do work well, and at the end of every year
they have added more information to the cards that they can keep
The verb card method is a great study skill to teach students. I
think it would have been helpful for me when I was learning French. I
didn’t do so well : )
When I was reading about this activity I had an idea for my vocabulary
classes. Students have a list of words from their readings to
learning the meanings of. They could write the word on their card and
then leave spaces to write the multiple meanings of the word. Even
write synonyms and antonyms of the back. This could help them learn
the word. It is a little bit more than simple flashcards.
Thank you for sharing your activity! It is definitely something I
could incorporate into my high school Spanish 1 classes, and that I
know my students would enjoy. It is kind of like a puzzle that they
have to put together. I like how you start with a simple activity and
then continue to build the difficulty level as the year progresses.
Using one color to represent each part of speech helps them to
categorize easier. I could also see an extention activity where they
would have to highlight these parts of speech using the correct color
in sentences that they wrote, as opposed to sentences you took out of
Lederer (2009) offers this whimsical, yet very true, list of why
English is so hard to learn. I have seen this example floating around
English departments and emails for some time now, and I thought you
may enjoy reading it if you have not seen it before.
1. The bandage was wound around the wound.
2. The farm was used to produce produce.
3. The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4. We must polish the Polish furniture.
5. He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to
present the present.
8. A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10. I did not object to the object.
11. The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13. They were too close to the door to close it.
14. The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15. A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16. To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17. The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18. After a number of injections my jaw got number.
19. Upon seeing the tear in the painting, I shed a tear.
20. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
21. How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend? (¶2)
Lederer, R, (2009). Reasons why the English language is hard to learn.
Retrieved July 6, 2009 from
1) Preproduction. Students have few oral skills, yet they may be
able to respond nonverbally by pointing, gesturing, nodding, or
drawing. Students at this stage benefit when teachers provide abundant
opportunities for active listening, utilizing visuals, and associating
2) Early Production. Students listen with greater understanding
and can produce some English words, phrases, and simple sentences
related to social, everyday events. Students at this stage benefit
when teachers ask yes-no, either-or, and listing-type questions. They
also show reading ability in English when illustrations support text.
3) Speech Emergence. Students can understand written English
accompanied by concrete contexts, such as pictures, objects, actions,
and sounds. They can understand ideas about events within the range of
personal experience. Students at this stage benefit when teachers
focus on basic communication and provide meaningful contexts in which
students express themselves in speech and print for a wide range of
purposes and audiences.
4) Intermediate Fluency. Students demonstrate increased levels of
accuracy and correctness and are able to express thoughts and
feelings. Students at this stage benefit when teachers provide
opportunities for students to create oral and written narratives.
5) Advanced Fluency. Students produce language comparable to
native English speakers of the same age using varied grammatical
structures and vocabulary. Students at this stage benefit when
teachers continue ongoing language development through integrated
language arts and content-area activities.
Language in high school is taught in much the same way we teach
grammar—–in isolation of the content and real world experience.
As human beings with great thinking minds, we need to connect to a
topic and be engaged and find relevance to form comprehension.
So to answer your question, I still find too many teachers offering
drills and isolated skill sets in isolation. Krashen’s natural
approach method offers a language model where it is more based on
natural human communication.
Please google Krashen and the Natural Approach–I challenge everyone
to research his ideas so we can have a more realistic view of a more
solid and comparable model to utilize in today’s classroom.You can
also research using the UOPx library EBScohost or GAil search. Good
I look forward to reading your research findings soon.
Sandra Calderon, EdD, MEd, BIS
Phonological awareness sometimes refers to an awareness that words
consist of syllables, “onsets and rimes,” and phonemes, and so can be
considered as a broader notion than phonemic awareness;
the ability to deal explicitly and segmentally with sound units
smaller than the syllable.
Phonemic awareness is a subset of phonological awareness in which
listeners are able to hear, identify and manipulate phonemes, the
smallest units of sound that can differentiate meaning. Separating the
spoken word “cat” into three distinct phonemes, /k/, /æ/, and /t/,
requires phonemic awareness.
Additionally, it is important that pre-
service teachers are given the opportunity to reflect on and
articulate how they
will in future negotiate and balance two roles: on the one hand as teachers
standard English, and on the other hand in helping children to explore the
multiple ways that language is used throughout our pluralist society.
, we need to acknowledge that simply knowing about language will
not necessarily of itself enable teachers to use the knowledge effectively in
their teaching. As suggested by participants in our study, pre-service
need to know how all ‘this stuff fits in.’ Thus, they need to know about the
relationship of grammar to meaning, and they need to know how to use
linguistic concepts in ways that help children to enrich their use of