Easy Ways to Teach Vocabulary

Vocabulary games are very effective to teach students new words. They help the students to learn new words easily. Each and every student is involved when vocabulary games are used. This will help the student to retain the word for a long time, even after leaving the classroom.

When vocabulary games are used to teach new words, the students are totally involved in learning the process. They concentrate on the spelling and sound of the word. Moreover, vocabulary games make learning new words great fun, rather than a monotonous task.

Find the word

Divide the class into teams depending on the number of students. Draw blank lines on the board equal to the number of letters on the word. A picture or a photograph of the word is shown to the class. Each team is then asked to guess the word. They are given 2 minutes to discus and find the letters of the word. When the time is up, a member of the team should come up to the board and fill in the blanks to form the correct word. This vocabulary game helps the student to associate the word with the picture.

Show and tell

Make picture cards of the words that you want to teach. The picture cards must be more than the number of students in the class. Place the cards on the centre of the table. Ask one student to come and pick out a card. The student should show the card to the class and read out the word written on it. All the students get a chance to pick out a card. The one who picks out the last card is asked to do something funny –like doing a funny dance, miming, singing etc. This vocabulary game is a fun way of teaching new words in class.

Cross the word

Write down a number of vocabulary words that you want to teach in a square on the board. Each word must be written in bold. Use different colours to write the words. Divide the class into two teams. Place two chairs facing away from the board. One member of each team is asked to sit on the chair. Say one word in from the board. The two students sitting on the chair should find out the word on the board and cross it out. Whoever crosses out the word first their team scores a point. If both the students do not find the word, then no points are awarded and the next set of students get a turn. Repeat till everyone has had a turn. The team with the maximum number of points wins. The students enjoy this vocabulary game.

Draw the word

Select the vocabulary topic that you want to teach. For example, words associated with “home”. Make A4 size cards with the outline of a house on it. Give one card to each group. Ask each group member to draw any thing that is there in a home. The students might draw a sofa, TV, a table etc. When all the groups have finished, ask each group to show the class what they have drawn.  The rest of the class has to guess what the drawing is. This vocabulary game can be used to teach new words associated with many topics such as, school, library etc in class.


This vocabulary game needs an OHP in class. Make slide presentations of funny characters miming feelings. For example, make slides with a picture of a clown with a sad face. Next to the sad face insert a speech bubble with “Oh! I’m so sad” written in it. Make more slides with other emotions like happy, sad, angry etc. Use picture animations to make the presentation more interesting. Show the presentation in class using an OHP. After the slide presentation is over. Ask a student to think of an emotion and mime it. The rest of the class should guess what the emotion is. Ask students to volunteer for miming. Some students may feel very shy and intimidated by the very thought of going in front of the whole class and miming.

How many times

This is more of a vocabulary drilling game to remember words. Choose words the students are already familiar with. Set a winning number. For example, set “5” as a winning number. Ask the students to be ready with a pen and a paper. Call out a word. As soon as you say “Start” the students should start writing the word. Once you say “Stop”, the students should stop writing. All the students who write the word 5 or more times are the winners.  Award the winners with a candy. This makes the learning experience very sweet.

Word bag

Write many words on small pieces of paper. Put them in a bag. Make corresponding picture cards. Each picture card should have the picture and the name on it. For example a vase picture card should have a picture of a vase and “Vase” written in bold on it. Divide the class into small groups. Give one word bag to each group.  Place the picture cards on table. The student should pick a word from the bag first then the student should pick out the first card from the table. If the word matches the card, the student gets to keep the card. If the word and the picture do not match, the card is put back and the bag is passed on to the next student in the group. The student with the maximum number of cards is the winner. This vocabulary game helps the students to remember the spelling of each word.

There are many other games to teach vocabulary.