Vocabulary: recording and recycling Back to list


Ideas for the classroom.

Vocabulary is the best single indicator of intellectual ability and an accurate predictor of success at school. — W.B. Elley

Vocabulary is key to successful language learning but how can we convey this message to our students? What strategies are there for teaching and revising vocabulary?

In Pulse 1 and 2, the study guide at the end of each unit groups the vocabulary into lexical sets. This enables students to look back over the key vocabulary they have studied. It is also a good idea to provide learners with key words or word banks before beginning a task.

One of the most important things a teacher can do is to set up a way of recording and then recycling vocabulary. Decide which of these strategies for recording, using and recycling vocabulary work for you and your students:


  • Students record vocabulary in electronic format (for example, in a word document).
  • Create a mind map, grouping the words together (download a photocopiable mind map here).
  • Create a class word wall
  • A traditional vocabulary notebook or file
  • A word box – set up a box in the classroom where new words are written on slips of paper and then posted in the box. These words can then be reviewed.
  • Brainstorm current vocabulary at the beginning and end of a topic so students can see how they have progressed
  • Get students to be “word detectives: choose your words and then divide the class into groups and get them to come up with a definition for their chosen word. They then create a word worksheet to present to the rest of the class (download a photocopiable “word detective” worksheet here).
  • Every couple of units or topics write up a random list of words and get students to group them (download a photocopiable grouping words worksheet here).

These strategies help to keep vocabulary an active part of your class. Students will only remember and be able to use words in context if they get to use them regularly.

Kate Fryer