Students learn many new words during the language process, but when it comes to using these words while speaking or writing they rarely do so because they haven’t internalized them. Students with an inadequate vocabulary range won’t be able to communicate effectively in the target language, are more likely to struggle with reading and writing, have difficulty in understanding content, and can be seriously at risk for academic failure. Research tells us that students need multiple and various exposures to a word before they fully understand that word and can apply it. Here is a list of different things learners need to know about a word before we say that they have learned it:

• Predicting and finding the meaning(s) of the word
• Its spoken and written forms (pronunciation & spelling)
• What “word parts” it has (any prefix, suffix, and root )
• Its grammatical behavior (part of speech)
• Its collocations
• What associations it has ( synonyms, antonyms )

Longman Vocabulary Website has exercises on all the topics listed above for students at different levels. In order to improve their prediction skills, we should teach students context clues explicitly.

You can use this vocabulary journal while you are teaching predicting the meanings of the unknown words using context clues. Here is a great lesson prepared by a creative teacher on using comics to teach context clues and here is another video you can share with your students to teach context clues.

Foreign language learners may come across a lot of new words while they are reading a text. However, it is impossible for them to internalize all these words at once. That’s why; choose 5-6 key words to focus on each week. Make sure that these are high-frequency words that your students will need to use in their further studies and in real life to be able to communicate in the target language effectively. Consider the Academic Words List while you are choosing key words from your content for your high school students. The AWL website offers lists of words, a definition for each word and its pronunciation (click the words in the sublists), and over 170 exercises to practise and review the vocabulary contained within the academic words list. You can find more exercises on the AWL here. The AWL is especially useful for EFL students who want to study in an English-speaking college or university and who are planning to take exams like IELTS or TOEFL.

While you are introducing the key words each week:

• Instead of giving the meanings to your students, give them examples, ask questions, use visuals, facial expressions, movement, mime, and gesture. In other words; show, don’t tell! Trying to understand the meaning of the word and thinking about it will actively involve the students in the learning process and enable them to remember and use these words more easily.
• The definitions in the dictionaries usually don’t help the foreign language learners much as they include unknown words and are hard for them to understand. Moreover, if they come up with their own definitions, learners are more likely to remember the words. Therefore, ask them to restate the description, explanation, or example in their own words.
• Engage them actively with the word with your questions or by asking them to give examples, to make sentences about the new words, to identify synonyms-antonyms, to find collocations and to derive new words by using prefixes and suffixes.
• Have them create an image or any kind of symbol that will help them remember each word. Before you ask them to do so, describe your own mental image for each word. The effectiveness of this approach is consistent with the findings of Robert Marzano and his team whose research shows that “the more we use both systems of representation – linguistic and nonlinguistic – the better we are able to think about and recall knowledge.” Here is a vocabulary journal I use with my students at this stage.

Effective vocabulary development includes systematic practice, review, and deep processing. Therefore, recycling the new words regularly with different activities is essential. We can utilize tech tools to do that. Today there are many digital tools that support vocabulary learning, making it interactive and fun. This link will take you to a great post which lists apps you can use for each step in Marzano’s 6 Step Process for teaching vocabulary. Here is a list of digital tools and online dictionaries for language learners and another one for teachers with game and puzzle templates and assessment tools. These tools have been designed for different purposes; so, they must be chosen carefully to support learning goals and the needs of students at different levels.

Created – not only with words – but with images, examples, analogies, and connections to students’ worlds; word walls are effective vocabulary learning tools. However, they shouldn’t be seen only as a display of words. Word walls should be integrated into the learning process with different activities. Here is a list of classroom games and activities that you can try by using word walls. Teachers can also use tools like Padlet and Thinglink to create digital collaborative word walls. Both teachers and learners can upload images, links and videos as well as text onto them and can embed them into their class websites and blogs.

Effective vocabulary learning requires active and positive student participation and games are ideal tools for that. Involve students periodically in games that allow them to play with the new words. You can see my Symbaloo with links to online vocabulary game websites below. Even though most of these games do not include activities fostering higher order thinking skills, they can be used to recycle vocabulary.


• Ask your learners to make their own picture dictionaries with the vocabulary they have learned or ABC Books based on the novels they have read / the topics they have studied. They can do this as computer-based image searches (using sites like Piclits, Classroom Clipart,, and Pics4Learning) or draw their own pictures.
• Ask your learners to present the new words to the class via skits, pantomime, posters, infographics, videos, jingles, and comics.
• Have them dramatize the words using pictures and speech bubbles and a tool like Blabberize.
• Write incomplete analogies for your learners to complete and have them write (or draw) their own analogies.
• Have them sort or classify words by using word clouds.
• Show your learners this video. Ask them to identify the easily confused words in it and write their own examples. Then ask them to work in groups and create their own Easily Confused Words video by choosing words from the word wall.

• Here is another game you can play with your learners after watching this video. Ask them to use the themes or concepts they learned during the school year to generate words.

• Instead of providing your learners with “Other Ways to Say ….” posters ask them to make their own posters. If you don’t have time to do that, brainstorm “the other” words with the learners by using a tool like Popplet and post it on your class blog. Alternatively, you can ask your learners to create a word cloud.




During the last decades technology has caused a lot of changes in our lives socially, politically and economically. What about education? Has education changed right along with the demands of the society?Today, many businesses require workers that can work in small, collaborative groups, which means we should use project-based learning in the classroom that allows students to work in small groups and to apply the academic content they are learning to real life situations. They want us to educate students who can be collaborators, thinkers, and innovators. However, in many classrooms, you can still see students sitting isolated in rows, listening to their teachers lecturing at the board all day.



We all know that we need to get away from teacher-led classrooms and create classrooms that are learner centered to meet the demands of our rapidly changing world and we have a great tool to be able to do that: technology. We all agree that we have to do everything to empower our students for their future. Then, why don’t we integrate it in education since we have the means to make a change in learning so that our students can create, communicate, connect and collaborate to be contributing citizens to their future!


In the video below, Scott McLeod, J.D., Ph.D, discusses his views on the importance of technology in learning and the need to revolutionize education to give kids the skills they need to compete in an increasingly interconnected and digital world.



Teaching with technology does not mean uploading lessons on tablets and giving them to students to use. It has two other important dimensions. Bringing technology to our classrooms will help our students become digitally savvy by using the web 2.0 tools that will enhance their learning and creativity. If we give our students the opportunity to use these tools during the learning process, we will see the very many ways they will help us create students who can think critically, problem solve, and work collaboratively. Today, most jobs require the use of technology, which is another reason why teachers should give students experience working with technology through group projects and classroom assignments to be able to prepare them for the future. We should also consider the fact that we are preparing many of our students for jobs that do not exist yet.


The second important dimension is related to social networking, which has an incredible impact on learning. Students have the capability of learning from each other through the use of social sites, with the supervision and support of their teachers. By enabling them to connect with people around the globe, we will be opening their minds to perspectives and experiences that go far beyond the four walls of the classroom.

As a further step, we can also publish student work for a global audience and have them teach others what they have learned by presenting or sharing their work online. This will help students think about how they can give back to the broader learning community and how this can help shape their future. It will also give the students the opportunity to be assessed by a global audience. They will eventually become self-directed learners through the guidance of their skillful teachers who know when, where and how to use technology to enable this. Therefore, instead of banning the use of many technological devices in the classrooms, school administrations should encourage and train teachers to use them. Please watch the video below showing how one principal made a change in his school and went from being anti-social media to being known as ‘Mr. Twitter’ by his students.



Integrating technology in education has another important dimension from the teachers’ perspective: Networking between schools both nationally and internationally, where educators and administrators can work collaboratively and share educational resources and practices. The concept of Personal Learning Environments (PLE) has become important as teachers and administrators all around the globe can exchange ideas, and share resources with the spread of technology and social networking sites like Twitter, Pinterest, Diigo and many others. Today, educators who have never met before have become connected and Personal Learning Networks (PLN) have a significant role in professional development. They create connections and develop a network that contributes to their professional development and knowledge with people they don’t necessarily know. Connected Principals blog is a good example of 21st century collaboration among principals.



We often discuss how teachers find teaching with technology in the classroom, what is difficult and what is easy for them when confronted with tech tools. It also might be worth looking at how our students, digital natives – people very much at home with these technologies – think about education and what is important for them in the digital age. The infographic by MacMillan Education below shows how students go beyond traditional forms of education and how we can apply mobile learning into everyday teaching.

Via: Voxy Blog


Does this mean that technology is the only solution to the problems in education? Of course not! There is no substitute for a skillful teacher in the classroom who effectively plans instruction according to the needs of each learner to actively engage and involve them in the learning process, creating a learning environment allowing the students to communicate and collaborate with others effectively and to be innovative. Technology is a tool that needs to be coupled with effective teaching from educators to enhance the learning process for students. Therefore, we need highly skilled teachers that can creatively use technology in the classroom to create a meaningful 21st century learning environment for students.




I strongly believe that, if used appropriately and meaningfully and combined with effective teaching strategies, digital technology helps learning to be active, engaging, and fun. Therefore, we should all be the facilitators of these opportunities so that our students can learn in a safe and meaningful way and can become connected learners just like us. If we do that, students will not only contribute to their future, but define and lead it as well. In this amazing, rapidly changing era where we can enhance and accelerate learning by integrating technology in education, the schools that understand the importance of education technology and provide their staff and students with training and access to digital learning tools will certainly have a distinct advantage over the others who ban or disregard them.

Credits to Crissy Venosdale


What do you think about teaching with technology and its role in enhancing learning?
How do you manage your PLN? Please let me know.