We all know there’s a lot more to vocabulary learning than just memorizing words and definitions. But finding new ways to engage your students can be a challenge. To save you time and energy, we’ve laid out four simple ways to spruce up your current vocabulary program.

1. Teach Words in Context

Remembering definitions isn’t enough when it comes to studying new vocabulary words. Students learn more effectively by seeing the words in action. That’s how indirect vocabulary learning works.

Try using a variety of settings to present new vocabulary words, such as reading passages and even real-world examples like news articles or song lyrics. Whenever students encounter a word they don’t know, encourage them to use context clues to guess the word’s meaning before looking up a definition. This approach will improve your students’ critical thinking habits while reinforcing their connections to each vocabulary word.

2. Promote Reading

If your students develop a love of reading, they’ll likely develop a love of words as well. To add a reading component to your vocabulary program, talk to your students and figure out what topics they’re interested in. Then look for engaging reading materials on these subjects. Creating vocabulary lessons around these subjects can help you make sure your students stay engaged with the material.

Of course, this can easily turn into A LOT of effort; you can’t possibly be expected to create unique vocabulary lessons for every student. Instead, try this: Take several suggestions from your students about what topic they want to read about next and have the entire class vote on it. This strategy offers the students a choice but makes your job a bit easier.

3. Study Word Roots

Sometimes, the best way to learn new words is to look at how they’re constructed. After all, Greek and Latin roots are the building blocks of over 60% of words in the English language. With those odds, there’s no doubt your students will come across word roots in their language arts lessons, vocabulary or otherwise.

Before your students tackle any new vocabulary, take time to explain how roots give words their meaning. Start by exploring the most common word roots, then introduce more complex roots later on. The more roots students retain, the better prepared they’ll be when they come across unfamiliar words on their own.

4. Practice With Writing

Naturally, you’ll want students to apply their vocabulary skills long after your lessons are over. One of the best ways to maintain a solid vocabulary foundation is through writing. Because it’s such an active way of learning, writing inspires students to think of creative ways to communicate their ideas—an ability that benefits from an extensive vocabulary.

Instead of merely asking students to use vocabulary words in a sentence, design thoughtful writing prompts that challenge them to incorporate vocabulary words correctly within their responses. In-depth writing exercises not only add a new dimension to your vocabulary program but also give students more chances to hone their writing skills.

Vocabulary Programs For the Busy Teacher

Feeling inspired? Great! Try building these tips into your own lesson plans. But if you’re not sure where to start, let us handle the hard work. See how Vocabulary Power Plus and its upcoming digital counterpart will help your students take their language arts skills to new heights.