Becoming a Better Learner: How to Deal with Difficult Words

Becoming a Better Learner: How to Deal with Difficult Words

Nick Michelioudakis’ column Becoming a Better Learner suggests techniques to engage, empower, and facilitate students through a series of simple activities.

This month, vocabulary building is in the spotlight!

Some words are hard to remember and some words are hard to use. Both kinds require special treatment. What you need to do is to create as many connections with other words/phrases as you can and create a mini mind-map. Let us say you find the word ‘punctual’ difficult. What words can you put in your mind-map? 

Ask yourself these questions: 

Q: What situation/context is the word used in (A: ‘work’) 

Q: What does the word mean? (A: ‘on time’)

Q: What word(s) does it often go with? (A: ‘a punctual worker’)

Q: Is there a word that means the opposite? (A: ‘late’)

Q: Are there any derivatives? (A: ‘punctuality’ / ‘punctually’)

Q: Can I put it in a sentence? (A: ‘He always arrives punctually’)

Q: Are there any other words in the same group? (A: ‘hard-working’ / ‘reliable’)

Once you have prepared your mini mind-map, do not forget to revise. Simply give yourself the main word and see whether you can write all the other words around it.

Nick Michelioudakis (B. Econ., Dip. RSA, MSc TEFL) has been active in ELT for many years as a teacher, examiner, presenter, and teacher trainer. He has worked for a number of publishers and examination boards and he has given seminars and workshops in many countries.

He has written extensively on Methodology, though he is better known for his ‘Psychology and ELT’ articles which have appeared in numerous newsletters and magazines.

His areas of interest include Student Motivation, Learner Independence, Teaching one-to-one, and Humour.

For articles or worksheets of his, you can visit his YouTube channel [] or his blog [ ].

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