Online teaching tools for vocabulary practice
How do I practise new vocabulary in Skype? How do I make my lessons engaging, interactive and creative? Here are some tools you can use to vary typical tasks and create new ones.
A well-known Hangman game for 2 or more players. Think of a word and encourage your students to guess it by letters. You can play against a friend or make your own word lists.
Basic vocabulary tasks are still good to do. But you can ring the changes with different tools: stop watch, timer, bomb or count down). For example, tell students to remember as many words as possible on a certain topic for 1 minute. Or do a matching exercise for 30 seconds. Also you can say a word, set the timer and a student has to talk about it for 1 minute.
Dice, Wheeldecide and Random Picker
- Another great tool to practise vocabulary is dice. Let say, you have 6 new words. Number them from 1 to 6. A student rolls the dice and has to make a sentence with the word with the corresponding number. You can organise a race if you have a group of students. Students must draw a spider. Each time they roll, they do a task, and then draw a part of the spider’s body (body-head-eye-leg-leg). The first person to draw the spider is the winner.
- You can create your own dice too. Customise the dice: include images, words, math symbols, phonics, etc.
- If you have fewer or more words, you can do the same activity, but use Wheeldecide.
- Use these tools for definitions, miming as well. “Definitions” exercise can be varied: play an adaptation of charades. Include 6 types of explaining the word: say the definition, draw it, mime it, give a synonym, give an antonym, make a sentence (but “beep” the word). Think of a word/phrase/collocation/idiom/etc. Roll the dice or spin the wheel. Explain the word by the drawn way.
- Random Picker can work for these tasks as well.
Create a board game to practise or revise new lexis. Include pictures, anagrams, definitions, words with missing letters, etc. Open the game in Paint or any other programme where you can draw. Decide on counters with the student, it can be an animal or a shape, e.g. you’re a cat, a the student is a mouse; or you move with a circle, the student with the star. You can also use a virtual PointerStick to highlight the current positions of the counter. Roll the dice mentioned above to move on and draw your/the student’s counter on the square.
Word search maker is an easy and powerful tool to work with words. You can do it in several ways: look at the picture and find the word or unscramble the word and find it. But how to play it via Skype? Ask your student to share their screen and open the word search in any graphic programme where they can circle the words. Another option is to create it here, send the link, ask the student to share their screen again and find the words. In this website you can use a text, picture, audio or video fas hints; moreover you may include the words themselves in random order if you need to make the task easier or quicker.
Another idea is to make a wordsearch in Google Doc, number columns and rows as in a Sea battle game, share your screen; the student says, e.g. B6, this is where the first letter is; then they say “up”, “down”, “left” or “right”.
Another option is to use virtual whiteboard, for example IDroo. IDroo connects thousands of students with teachers for real-time collaboration all over the world. Each stroke you make and letter you type is transmitted in real time to all the participants worldwide.
Finally, you can set it as a hometask.
Crosswords can be classic with text clues or you may use pictures as clues. You can use this website as well. Ideas how to do it via Skype are the same as for the word search games. You may also do it in Google Docs, your student says the words and you type them, however you cannot check student’s spelling this way.
Student of all ages love bingo and crisscross. Create bingo cards with words and prepare a picture dice for the target vocabulary (or vice versa). If you use dice with numbers, number the pictures from 1 to 6. Roll the dice, check if you have this word and cross it.
If you have more than 6 words, you can create a card with all the words, e.g. 6X6 and roll the dice twice: one — for words in columns and another — in rows. For instance, you roll and your number is 3 across; then you roll again and your number is 6 down. Then you see what word/picture is in square 3-6 and check if you have this word/picture on your bingo card.
Another option is to play bingo using the song if there’s a target vocabulary. You play the track and when you hear the word you have on your card, cross it. But this task usually works well with chants or songs with YL.
Create a spelling worksheet. You can use pictures and write different spellings or words. Students have to choose the correct one.
This would probably work better with YL. There are so many websites to practise different vocabulary. Here are some of them: games to learn English, British Council, English games, Flash games, Online games. If your student isn’t well-versed in computer games, share the screen and ask him/her to say/choose/name a word/sentence. If they’re quite familiar with online games, send the link and tell them to share the screen. In addition you can send some games as a homework.
Create a vocabulary quiz and do it in real time with the time limit. You can provide a definition or a picture for students to select the correct word. Create a synonym/antonym game or “choose the correct spelling” game. Check idioms or set expressions. It’s more engaging to use Kahoot with 2 or more students.
This tool is great to use with a group of students. Set the question about a word/collocation or give the beginning of an idiom. Students type their answers in the answer garden. Another idea is to brainstorm words on a topic given to activate the vocabulary; or provide the definition/synonym/antonym for students to guess the word.
Make a custom memory games using your pictures or use ready-made ones.
Here you can quickly create different types of vocabulary exercises. There’re lots of different templates: matching, true/false, quiz, group sort, wheel, crossword, whack-a-mole, diagram, anagram, etc.
This is a similar website to make quizzes, tests, games, crosswords and various tasks.