Helping EAL Students Develop a Diverse Vocabulary
How do you help English learners identify and understand new vocabulary and then use it? I’ve put together some English as an Additional Language (EAL) vocabulary resources I’ve been using to support new word usage, and to provide understandable contexts for words that will come up in a students day to day exposure to English (newspapers, television, media). Students often want to discuss what is going on in the world, but can struggle with finding the right language to do so. Fortunately, there are several websites that provide interesting contexts at graded levels for learners. I’ve also included a link to Quizlet, which I have found very useful for vocabulary review, once those students have found the words they would like to use more frequently.
Quizlet, as the name suggests, is about quizzes. This web site allows teachers to create classes, and then create class “sets” of review words. Students are also able to make their own sets (even on their smart phones!) to share with their classmates. Quizlet allows for users to change the language of whatever is being reviewed – it is flexible enough that I’ve used it for Social Studies and English review, and it could also easily be used for learning a new language. Students have also been able to include English and Mandarin definitions in their sets. Teachers are also able to create tests – either online or printed (this is something we have been doing once a week in my classes).
For more emerging ability levels, the West Coast Reader is an adapted newspaper geared towards older English language learners. The most current issue (available online) discusses the drought in the Lower Mainland, and the recent stranding of an orca whale in Hartley Bay, B.C. The topics covered in this newspaper are at the adult level and interest, and are great for starting current events discussions or activities with students of any level.
Also for tackling current events, Voice of America has graded articles (from 1 – 3) for English language learners. With both print and audio / visual, this is another starting off point for class discussions and to review and discuss vocabulary. Beyond the news stories, there is also “English Learning TV” and “English in a Minute.” This is very similar to BBC Learning English (although not as slick).
I’ve been using this website since I started language teaching. From the website: “Comprehensive materials for intermediate to advanced ESL learners from the BBCWorld Service. Uses simplified news stories to present English in context.” to balance out the West Coast and American worldview, BBC Learning English also has a variety of resources available beyond new stories, including pronunciation, grammar, language discussion and listening practice. This website is also very sleek looking. They continuously update, so it does look “newer” than the Voice of America website.
Teachers, what about you? What resources am I missing?