Teaching English vocabulary is boring without creative method. Traditional English teachers ask students to memorize words. Using games is a good choice to create fun learning. Students will be encouraged to learn. When they play the games, they use the language. It means they build learning experience. "Experience is the best teacher," right? In teaching vocabulary there are a lot of word games teachers can use. Word games are available on internet. Teachers can use it or modify it to fit with the students' condition.
I try to share some word games to be used in teaching vocabulary activity.
1) Matching Words
Matching words activity is good for students to remember new words. In fact, they match every thing they see with the words they have in mind. Bellow are three matching words games for ESL/EFL classes.
a) Matching words with picture
With pictures students can visualize the subjects in their mind. They learn like in real world. It is easier for them to remember. Provide some interesting pictures and words or sentences printed on pieces of papers. The words can be the name of something in the picture, something related to it, places where it be, etc.
Thematic vocabulary is good to make students more focus on certain topics, for example, words related to family, animal, transportation, etc. Firstly teachers tell the students the name of the things in each picture, also write it on the whiteboard, or ask students to find it on their own dictionaries.
After several minutes, 10 minutes for 20 pictures is enough, then come into the game. It is to check how many words they can remember and to help them strengthen their memory of the pictures. If the picture is butterfly, the word should be matched is butterfly.
- Give them 20 pictures and 30 words.
- ask them to match the words with the pictures in 2 minutes. 10 seconds for one picture.
b) Matching words with words
It is almost the same as matching pictures with words, but the skills to be trained is reading and writing skill. Give students 20 words printed on pieces of papers. Then ask students to write the synonym, or something related to it. If the word is south, the students should write north; if the word is mouse, the students should write cat; etc. Define how long they should do it per word.
c) Matching voice with written
The skills to be trained are listening skill, pronunciation skill, and writing skill. Assign students into pairs. Give them 20 pictures or words. If they hold picture, ask them to mention it with English loudly, then their pairs write it down on papers. If they hold words, they read it and the pairs write it down on papers.
Define how long they should do it per word.
2) Words Hunt
a) Finding words on a passage
The advantage of this game is making students be familiar with English text. It is good to be used in teaching part of speech (word classes).
- Give them texts appropriate to their level. Read the text loudly together.
- Ask them to write down adjectives, or nouns, or verbs they find on the text.
- or assign them into pairs: one read the text, another write down the words.
b) Finding words on conversation
It is to train listening skill. Provide audio or video English conversation, slow motion is better. Or give them text of English dialogue. Divide the class into to groups or more. One group make a conversation and another group take a note the words. The teachers define what words they should write.
c) Finding friends
It is to train listening and pronunciation skill. Give students some pictures. All picture should have their match: cat with mouse, man and woman, Eagle with snake, etc. Each student should mention of things on the pictures they hod. Then, they should find who hold pictures match their own pictures. Define the time to finish it.
3) Words Racing
a) Translation race
Translation method is a traditional method, but it would be fun with little modification. Assign students into pairs or divide the class into groups. Then, the teachers mention several words in English or students language, the students should write down the translation on papers. It is should be done quickly. It is also train their listening and writing skills.
b) Dictation race
It is writing training skill. The teachers mention several words and the students write it on papers. It is a race, so they should do it so quickly.
c) Whispering race
Divide students into to groups. Assign them to stand in line in certain gapes. Teachers whisper several words to the students with translations, the students should do it to the next student, and so on.
Those are word games can be used in teaching English vocabulary. ESL/EFL students will be more motivated learning by playing games.