You know, learning words can be fun. Discipline and practice are important, too, of course. But having fun can do so much for the student of ESL. When the student enjoys what she’s studying, she doesn’t have to employ so much will power to maintain her focus. Learning just flows, and it’s the pleasure from this peak experience that will motivate the student to study again next time.
Personally, I learned a lot of words and became good at spelling as a child because I had fun getting to know words and learning them by heart. I didn’t want to just memorize them. I wanted to use them and hear myself speaking them. I thought words were beautiful! Of course, the environment around me was a big influence, too, but I never would have spent hours and hours learning words (to the point of reading the dictionary!) if I hadn’t enjoyed learning new words.
I learned reading not only through children’s books but also by watching cartoons. Yes, that’s right. I’m recommending some TV time for you and your kids. In truth, there are a lot of children’s cartoons out there that are filled with violence and may be harmful for children. So previewing and selecting the right cartoon show to introduce to children is really an important requisite task that parents should not fail to do.
I also think that children’s shows are a viable way of learning English for ESL beginners. For one, the colorful graphics, entertaining music, and interactive format are a welcome change to monotonous ESL work books! Children’s shows use simpler words and have a moderate pace so it’s easier for ESL beginners to follow along compared to movies, TV series and contemporary songs (Yes, I’ve used these with my ESL students, too!). However, since most ESL learners are adults, I’m not certain that they will easily embrace this method. I have tried this on a handful of my ESL adult students and they liked the idea. I’ve never tried it with my more serious no-nonsense students though for fear of offending them. Clearly, the method isn’t for everyone. So before considering this for class, the ESL teacher should get to know the students first and assess if watching cartoons will sit well with the student’s personality.
Playing Word Games
Have you every played Word Factory, Boggle, or Scrabble? I have. For tons of hours! When I was in elementary school it was a family ritual to play Boggle on weekends. I played against my twin sister, my brother who was five years older than me, and even my mom and dad. This meant that I had to play against other people who had different vocabulary levels. To compete I had to catch up to their level and match them word for word. Well, I was one competitive child and that explains why I even read the dictionary during my spare time just to beat them in our next game. 😀
Now here’s a fun but simple vocabulary building activity that the learner of English can play on her own, with other learners or even with her teacher! I have to add that we usually did this in my English class in elementary school, too.
Let’s try this!
Try to make as many words as you can using the letters from the word below:
For a more competitive game, learners can agree on a point system. For example, words with three letters earn one point, four letters earn two points, and so on.
Here are some words I found:
art(s), rat(s), tar(s), car(s), cat(s), act(s), sac, sat, ton(s), not(s), sot, cot(s), can(s), ran, tan(s), arc(s), too, rot(s), coo(s), con(s), ant(s), nor, oar(s), oat(s)
cart(s), star, cast, snot, cost, scan, rant(s), scar, root(s), soot, sort, coot(s), soon, , coat(s), soar, taco(s), corn(s), torn
roost, scoot, coast, sonar, arson, roast, croon(s), acorn(s), scorn
Playing with Rhymes
Rhymes are not only good for building vocabulary they’re also useful for familiarizing learners with the sounds of the English language. When taught in a playful way, rhymes can help learners think of learning the English language as an entertaining and interesting game.
And because I’m such a big fan of Word World, here are pig and his friends to show us how to learn words the fun way once more!