Teaching ESL: Love For Words


Language helps you to understand yourself and the world around you. The first words you have spoken were the names of things. Your earliest uttering were: "Mama, Dada, baby, dog, eat..." among others.

By the time you were ready to enter school and as you read, your vocabulary was made even larger by all the words you saw around you. Teachers suggest rules to help you increase your vocabulary.

I tell my ESL students about this. Since most of them are professional and working adults, they come in piously memorizing, then knowing the words by heart.

Check this:

Be alert for new words in everything you hear.
Keep in a vocabulary notebook. Be sure you know how to pronounce them.
Read widely the newspapers, books, magazines, encyclopedias and more. They will give you new words to use.
Try out the new sets of words when you speak or write.
Set yourself a vocabulary goal. Try to learn and use at least 1-5 words a day. In some classes, we learn 10 words a day.

Here are 20 words for you:

A narrative is a story.
Devise is to invent.
Sanctuary is a place of safety.
To mystify is to bewilder.
A delusion is a false belief.
Slander means false report.
Sonic is of sound.
Jeopardy means danger.
Mural is wall painting.
Exquisite means very lovely.
A documentary is a factual presentation.
A nomad is a wanderer.
Turbulent means violent.
Carnivorous is flesh- eating.
Decrepit is old and feeble.
Pacifist is a believer in peace.
Ovation means enthusiastic approval.
Embark means to begin a voyage.
Subterranean is underground.
Oblivion is forgetfulness

First we read texts using the new words. Next, we define and explain five or ten words, for example. Then we brainstorm and use the words in different contexts and situations. Students ask questions. The teacher makes an interesting exchange of ideas for students to remember some words (if not all). Finally, I let them use each word in a sentence and practice using them (as homework/ for evaluation). We check/edit the sentence.

I tell my students (to affirm their hard work) "There is no perfect grammar, but aim for clarity." Way back, my poetry professor (MFA teacher) Dr. Marjorie Evasco motivated me to make beautiful sentences, as well.

And of course, in my younger years when I asked my mother about word meanings, she always told me "Use the dictionary!" And so, my love for words.

rose flores martinez

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