Becoming a Better Learner: How to Revise Vocabulary

Becoming a Better Learner: How to Revise Vocabulary

Nick Michelioudakis’ column Becoming a Better Learner suggests techniques to engage, empower, and facilitate students through a series of simple activities. This month, vocabulary revision is in the spotlight! 

Let us say you want to learn some words or some phrases. What many students do is to re-read them (not good enough). Others try to actively retrieve them (which is a lot better). OK – let us now move a step further. To be able to use the new language, you need to use the strategy of ‘Elaboration’. Let us say you have learned the phrase ‘cheat at a test’. Here is what you can do:

  • Can you explain it in your own words? (‘Cheating: trying to do well in a dishonest way’)
  • Can you link it to other words – phrases? (‘test’ – ‘high marks’ – ‘secretly’ – ‘do well at a test’)
  • Can you link it to yourself? (‘I once cheated at school and I was very worried of getting caught’)
  • Can you link it to something outside the class? (‘People sometimes cheat at sports by taking drugs’)

Elaborating means adding extra layers of meaning so that you can really master something.

Ask yourself: ‘Can I explain this word/phrase to someone else?’ If not, perhaps you do not know it well.

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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