The process of teaching vocabulary can be fairly simple and straightforward, though there are some tips and techniques that can make the process more meaningful and effective for students. It is typically easier to teach anything, including vocabulary, within a meaningful context, and so teachers should try to teach vocabulary words that relate to other lessons being presented in class. Both parents and teachers should promote reading, in and out of classes, to help students expand their vocabularies. Many teachers can also improve the process of teaching vocabulary by focusing on “relational” words and meanings as well as definitions of words.
Teaching vocabulary typically consists of the process by which teachers or parents help students learn new words. This refers to not only the actual meanings of those words, but also how they can be used together to construct meaningful ideas. Teachers should consider teaching words based on other work that is being done in class, such as using words from a short story, poem, or novel that students are reading for vocabulary lessons in the same unit. Many teachers spend a great deal of time deciding on what words they should teach, but they should also have students write down words they encounter and do not understand, then teach those words while teaching vocabulary.
Reading is, perhaps, the best way to assist in teaching vocabulary to students. No amount of vocabulary lessons can ever cover every single word in a complicated language like English, French, or German. Many words are going to be encountered for the first time while someone is reading, and so teachers and parents should encourage reading outside of class to expose students to new words. This is why it is also important, while teaching vocabulary, for a teacher to help students learn to recognize and understand new words based on surrounding context and the use of dictionaries when necessary.
Teachers who are teaching vocabulary should also focus on not only what words mean but also how they can go together. This is often referred to as the “relational” meaning of words and this understanding is essential for effective communication. Many vocabulary lessons use antonyms, synonyms, and analogies to help students better understand the relationships between words. This not only makes teaching vocabulary more effective, but these types of relationships can be turned into games to make the process more interesting. Many of these types of questions are also used on major tests such as the SAT® that many students take prior to college.