Using origami for vocabulary practice

Using origami for vocabulary practice

There are lots of ways to practise vocabulary: exercises, games, applications, craft activities, etc. However, have you ever thought of using origami as a tool to teach English? Below I’ll share some ideas on this topic.

What is origami? 

This word comes from the Japanese language, where “ori” means “folding”, and “kami” meaning “paper”. Origami is an art of folding papers into different decorative sculptures. As we can see from the definition origami is not developed for language teaching purposes. How can we incorporate it into the language teaching context?


  1. Usually, an origami lesson includes visual and written and/or verbal instructions. For students, who can read, you may use written instructions, for others -- verbal. But I would use a visual instruction for all types of learners to support the meaning. 
  2. Also, it’s necessary to pre-teach new words before the activity to make sure the task goes smoothly: explain and demonstrate actions. 
  3. If you have strong students and you want to challenge them, for example, on Elementary or Pre-Intermediate levels, you can ask them to read the text first and try to make origami without visual support. 
  4. If you want to focus on writing, do vice-versa, provide students with visual materials and ask them to write instructions for each step. You can ask them to do this individually, in pairs or groups. You can hand out different visuals. Then, they swap their instructions and try to make an origami. 
  5. Use the origami to reinforce the vocabulary learnt through these craft activities, for example, animals, food, things that go, classroom objects, flowers of different colours, toys, etc. Students can make different origami using pictures or videos.
  6. Use origami on holiday topics, Christmas, New Year, Birthday etc. You can set a task to make various things for the holiday, for example one pair or group of students make a tree, another -- fireworks, another -- baubles, etc.
  7. Students can describe their origami after they finish it to have speaking practice too.

These are some free online resources where you can find origami activities.

  1. Tammy Yee’s Origami Page

There are instructions, visuals and patterns ready-to-print. All origami projects are divided into topics and levels of difficulty. 


2. Origami Tutorials  

3. JeremyShaferOrigami 

4. Henry Origami

These YouTube channels include videos on how to make origami shapes. It’s a great tool to make the lesson even more “spicy” and include variety using videos. Student can watch the videos and write instructions for them.

Watch this video on YouTube.


As you can see, origami can be used to practise reading, writing, speaking, listening skills. You can make these lessons using TBL or PBL approaches. Another advantage of this activity is that it can be used for students of all learning styles (Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic). Finally, as it’s a craft activity, encouraging and motivating for children.

Give it a go and add some variety to your lessons!

Наринэ Егорова

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