Vocabulary Assignment That Builds Speaking Skills and More


Most classes include some kind of vocabulary-building component. Vocabulary work can be deadly boring. I tried various approaches until I discovered one combination of activities that the kids enjoyed and also produced high-quality results. I used the typical vocabulary worksheet, but added some elements to the assignment. I told the kids they had to write a story that they would read in front of the class. They had to use every word correctly in a separate sentence. The most interesting twist was that they had to use the words in the order they appeared on the worksheet (in this case, they were in alphabetical order). This requirement made the assignment more difficult and also made the students become more creative writing their stories. If the words were used incorrectly, or the story itself did not make sense, they had to do the assignment again. I found that the quality of stories was better than normal because they knew they would be reading them in front of their friends, not just turning them in. I used the assignment to do some public speaking instruction. I would have them start by standing in back of the class and read one paragraph aloud. Then I would have them read the same thing while standing in front of the class. I would discuss volume, unusual body movements, gestures and other speech techniques. I continued working with them as they worked through the ten vocabulary worksheets we completed each year. They became very skilled at both writing funny stories and reading them with composure and effectiveness in front of their friends. The gains they made in vocabulary were nice, but the fun and experience provided by students writing and reading all of their stories turned out to be a far more effective and enjoyable result of the assignment.

Steve Simpson is the editor of Ed.Net Briefs (http://www.edbriefs.com), a weekly online education newsletter with more than 60,000 readers. He earned his Ph.D. in communications at the University of Washington. He can be reached by e-mail at .


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