The standard approach to learning a new vocabulary item is to define the word, practice pronouncing it, and using it in a written sentence. 

But words have many more dimensions! 

We learn and remember words by context, by collocation, by sound, by spelling, even by movement.  Here is a list of the many ways teachers can approach vocabulary instruction. 


Ways to learn a word:

The teacher asks:


1.        define

What does it mean?


2.        listen

How many syllables does it have? 

What does it rhyme with?


3.        pronounce

Are there any tricky sounds? 

How does the mouth move when pronouncing the word?


4.        trace

How do you draw the letters of the word? 

Can you write the word with your finger?


5.       spell

What are the letters in the word? 

Does it follow any special spelling rules? 


6.        visualize

Close your eyes. 

How many letters does the word have?

What’s the first letter?  What’s the last letter?


7.    analyze

What part of speech is it? 

Does it have a root word?   

Does it belong to a family of words? 


8.        personalize

What does it mean to you? 

Describe someone you know with the word.


9.         associate

Where do you hear it: at work, at school, at the doctor’s office? 


10.      categorize

How is it different from similar words? 

Is it more formal or informal? 

Is it used for more for men or women?


11.       collocate

Is the word often used with another word?

(For example: save time, save money, save a seat)


12.      generate

Write a sentence with it.

Use it in a role-play.