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Remembering New Words
Students frequently do not understand that vocabulary development strategies involve more than just
looking up words in a dictionary and making lists of the new words with meanings to memorize. Students
need to be introduced to different methods of unlocking the meaning of words and then have an opportunity to practice using them. Vocabulary development is gradual; the basic skills are introduced in this
chapter, but the application of the skills extends through the book.
Concept cards use several different associations to help students remember unknown words. Recording
the new word in its original phrase recalls the source, drawing an image forms a visual link, and generating a sentence—especially one rich in meaning and imagery—creates a personal link with already existing knowledge.
Encourage students to share ideas on the concept cards. Many students have trouble drawing images, not
so much because they can’t draw, but more because they can’t think of what to draw. You might point out
that drawing would be considered a more “right-brain” activity, whereas generating a sentence is considered more “left-brain.”
While extolling the virtues of context clues, also mention the limitations. Although clues within a sentence
can assist with an approximate word definition, at some point, for a complete understanding of an unfamiliar word, the dictionary should be consulted.
Multiple Meanings of a Word
Organize students to work in groups to form a list of five words that have multiple meanings. Ask one
group member to serve as the reporter to present the list and the meanings to the class. Examples that you
can use to stimulate thinking are lead, drive, ring, bill, and pen.
Most students have already been exposed to prefixes, roots, and suffixes and know the definition of many
of the Greek and Latin word parts included in the list. As an additional activity, you might ask students
to form groups. Each group should choose a content area (history, psychology, biology, mathematics, etc.)
and create a list of word parts that seems to be most important for that area. Students could also use the
glossary for this activity to help them locate words specific for each area.
Using a Dictionary
Many students purchase small paperback abridged dictionaries and then become frustrated because they
cannot find the words they want in them. The contents of small dictionaries are very limited. Ask students
to go to the library or a bookstore, find the following dictionaries, and write a brief description of each that
highlights the advantages and disadvantages.
The Random House Dictionary of the English Language
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
Webster’s New World Dictionary
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary
The Oxford American Dictionary
The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, 2nd edition
Use one of the above dictionaries to answer the following questions.
1. Naive is derived from what language?
2. What is the meaning of the root word in convalescent?
3. Give three synonyms for zeal.
4. How is flamboyant connected with architecture?
5. What is spontaneous combustion?
To give students an opportunity to compare the information given in a glossary and in a dictionary, assign
an activity for looking up words in both places. Ask students to select three unfamiliar words each from
the glossaries of a psychology, a biology, and a business textbook. Look up these same words in the dictionary and compare the information. Evaluate each resource and discuss the difficulty of understanding
content terminology without background knowledge in the subject.
Emphasize to students that using the electronic thesaurus included in computer word processing programs can help them avoid repetitions. Ask students to find alternatives for commonly overused words
such as interesting, said, and information.
Analogies require logical thinking and prior knowledge because of the need to identify the comparison
and to recognize the vocabulary. Organize students in groups and ask them to create an analogy for each
of the categories of relationships listed in the Reader’s Tip box. Groups can then exchange items and quiz
each other for further discussion.
Easily Confused Words
Ask students to differentiate the following list of easily confused words:
To emphasize our use of acronyms in everyday life, ask students to scan a newspaper or news magazine
to find three additional acronyms.
Relate the use of transitional words to their own writing. Discuss how they have been taught to connect
ideas within paragraphs, as well as connecting the paragraphs into an organized and logical support for
Select a short poem to read aloud to students and ask them to identify and explain the figurative language.
Discuss how figurative language adds to the impact of the poem.
Ten Vocabulary Boosters
Vocabulary boosters appear at the end of ten chapters. Each lesson follows a structural approach in order
to link words in clusters or families. I encourage you to assign these lessons on a weekly basis. I would
introduce the words at the beginning of the week, check the exercise answers with students in the middle
of the week, and quiz students at the end of the week. I consider these exercises a very important part of
long-term vocabulary development.
ESL Exercises on Figurative Language and Idioms
Six lessons on figurative language and idioms are in the Appendix. Each lesson presents ten figurative
words or phrases for students to use in context. Assign these lessons over a time period that fits the needs
of your students and the curriculum.
Categories of Analogy Relationships
H Synonyms: Similar in meaning
Find is to locate as hope is to wish.
H Antonyms: Opposite in meaning
Accept is to reject as rude is to polite.
H Function, use, or purpose: Identifies what
something does; watch for the object (noun)
and then the action (verb)
Pool is to swim as blanket is to warm.
H Classification: Identifies the larger group
Sandal is to shoe as sourdough is to bread.
H Characteristics and descriptions: Shows
qualities or traits
Nocturnal is to raccoon as humid is to
H Degree: Shows variations of intensity
Fear is to terror as dislike is to hate.
H Part to whole: Shows the larger group
Page is to book as caboose is to train.
H Cause and effect: Shows the reason (cause)
and result (effect)
Study is to graduation as caffeine is to
Signals for Transition
H For addition: in addition furthermore
H For examples: for example for instance
to illustrate such as
H For time: first secondly finally last
H For comparison: similarly likewise
in the same manner
H For contrast: however but nevertheless
whereas on the contrary conversely
H For cause and effect: thus consequently
therefore as a result
VOCABULARY BOOSTER 1: Over, Under, Around, and Through
Part I: For each of the following sentences indicate whether the underlined word is used Correctly (C) or Incorrectly (I).
C ______ 1. Roger is ambidextrous and does many tasks with great skill.
C ______ 2. The satanic cult tried to subvert Maria’s religious beliefs.
I ______ 3. A diagnosis was done as soon as the patient was cured.
I ______ 4. Jay Leno and David Letterman deliver stand-up dialogues at the beginning of each of
I ______ 5. Joanna was promoted to a subservient position in charge of three staff members.
C ______ 6. The ambiance of the restaurant was very romantic with the music, flowers, and candles.
C ______ 7. The surface of the water was still calm although high waves were predicted by nightfall.
I ______ 8. Salina experienced ambiguous feelings of despair and regret after breaking up with
C ______ 9. Surveillance of the suspected drug dealer resulted in incriminating pictures that led to
C ______10. Some citizens believe that groups within the United States are working quietly to
subvert the government from within the system.
Part II: Mark each of the following statements either True (T) or False (F).
F ______11. Diametrical is the opposite of diagonal.
F ______12. Ambiguous statements are clear and certain.
F ______13. A thrifty person who hates to waste money would probably not mind paying a surcharge.
T ______14. A honeymoon is usually subsequent to a wedding.
F ______15. Actors welcome diatribes from film critics.
T ______16. A dialect is a variation of a language.
T ______17. A person with ambition is usually willing to work hard to get ahead.
T ______18. If you surmise something, you do not have actual proof.
F ______19. A subsidiary is the main branch of a corporation.
T ______20. An ambivalent response shows that the person does not have a strong opinion on the