Course Outline for Teaching ESL/EFL Vocabulary

Week 1

Lesson 1- Where Do We Start?

Do you want to help your ESL/EFL students strengthen and expand their vocabulary? Then you've come to the right place! In this lesson, you'll discover where to start in the process. You'll get acquainted with the different types and levels of vocabulary, and you'll see how to discover just what vocabulary your students need to learn. You'll also learn ways to teach the words you're students will most need to know and how to handle the words they won't run into so often. There's a strategy to teaching vocabulary, and you'll start exploring it here!

Lesson 2- What Makes a Balanced Course?

In today's lesson, you'll discover how to create a well-balanced vocabulary course. It involves balancing four strands: (1) meaning-focused input (listening and reading), (2) meaning-focused output (speaking and writing), (3) language-focused (or deliberate) learning, and (4) fluency development. You'll get a survey of each of these strands that will lay a solid foundation for exploring them in detail in the lessons that follow.

Week 2

Lesson 3- Strand 1: Meaning-Focused Input

There are two essential parts to the first strand of meaning-focused input: extensive reading and extensive listening. Today, we're going to dive into both of these, looking at their benefits and some of their challenges. You'll also learn about an essential resource that provides a wonderful foundation for vocabulary learning: graded readers.

Lesson 4- Strand 2: Meaning-Focused Output

In today's lesson, we're going to look at some of the how-tos connected with the second strand: meaning-focused output. We'll concentrate mainly on speaking, because many teachers have a hard time picturing how they can teach their students vocabulary through a productive activity like speaking. But there's actually a lot you can do! You'll gain an understanding of how vocabulary learning takes place through negotiation and remembering. You'll get some springboard ideas that you can adapt into many different kinds of activities. And you'll see how to design your worksheets and speaking activities to maximize vocabulary learning.

Week 3

Lesson 5- Strand 3: Deliberate (Language-Focused) Learning

Deliberate, or language-focused, learning plays a very important role in any vocabulary course. It speeds up our students' rate of learning and helps them correct their own errors, and it makes our teaching even more effective. So in this lesson, we're going to look at some activities you can use with this important strand to help your students learn single words and multi-word units (like idioms and figures of speech).

Lesson 6- Strand 4: Fluency Development

If your students can't use what they've learned, what real good is their knowledge? Today we're going to look at the strand that helps students be able to confidently use what they've learned: fluency. You'll see why it's so important to give 25% of your class time to fluency development and how you can do it with interesting and challenging listening, speaking, reading, and writing activities.

Week 4

Lesson 7- Vocabulary Strategies

The most effective way to help your students learn low-frequency vocabulary words is by equipping them with strategies. Today we're going to explore four of the most useful strategies: guessing from context, using word cards, analyzing word parts, and using the dictionary. With these strategies, you can put your students' learning in their control, helping them become effective and independent learners.

Lesson 8- Academic and Technical Vocabulary

If you need to prepare your learners for high school or college, you'll need to equip them with two vital levels of vocabulary: academic and technical. But do you know how? In this lesson, you'll discover just what you need to do! To teach academic vocabulary, you'll use the very valuable Academic Word List (AWL) and teach it right across the four strands. With technical vocabulary, you'll provide your students with effective strategies for learning the words they need to know for their particular fields of study.

Week 5

Lesson 9- How Effective Are Your Vocabulary Activities?

How can you tell if your vocabulary activities are working well? That's the question we'll set about answering in today's lesson. We'll start by exploring the conditions that are necessary for our students to have deep and thoughtful learning. Then we'll look at two ways to analyze activities: through four questions, and through the involvement load hypothesis (this may sound scary, but it's really quite simple!). Finally, once we've see how to analyze activities, we'll discover how to improve them for maximum effectiveness.

Lesson 10- Vocabulary in Content-Based Instruction

In today's lesson, we're going to explore some of the ways you can help your second-language learners cope with the vocabulary they'll be meeting in different content areas. Content-based instruction has two big challenges for your students: They not only have to learn about the subject, but they also have to learn the language to convey those content-matter ideas. We can make their learning load easier to bear by using well-constructed experience tasks, shared tasks, and guided tasks.

Week 6

Lesson 11- Assessing Vocabulary Knowledge

Do you know the most effective ways of testing your students' vocabulary knowledge? That's what we'll be exploring today. In this lesson, we're going to tackle the following questions: What is our purpose for testing? What are the features of a good vocabulary test? What are the types of tests we can choose from? What aspects of vocabulary do we want to test on? By the time we're done, you'll find the answers to these - and a lot more!

Lesson 12- Designing a Vocabulary Course

In our last lesson, we're going to explore a model that will help you in the course design process. You'll learn about what to look for when you analyze your students' needs and the classroom environment. And you'll also see how to incorporate important language-learning principles into your course. Goals are at the heart of design, so we'll be looking at those too. And you'll see how all of these areas can guide you when you choose your course content, decide on the teaching sequence, select your lesson format and presentation, and determine how to monitor and assess your students. And we'll wrap up by looking at how and why you should evaluate your course's effectiveness.

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