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How To Pre-Teach Vocabulary to ESL Students

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

You are ready to teach new vocabulary to your ESL students before they start on a new reading assignment. This lesson gives you clear guidance on how to apply some tips to successfully pre-teach vocabulary.

The Basics of Pre-Teaching Vocabulary

Are you about to assign students a reading comprehension exercise or a book to read? Do you want to pre-teach vocabulary but aren't sure how to give vocabulary words context so they actually have meaning? You are not alone. Let's see how you can pre-teach vocabulary, or provide the definitions and uses of vocabulary words before they are used in reading activities and assignments.

For any vocabulary pre-teaching activity, it is important that you select the words that your ESL students are really going to need. Choose the words that are used most often throughout the text or the ones that are key to understand the main aspects of the text.

It is a good idea to tell your students why they are learning a given list of words. For instance, tell your class, ''We are going to learn some words that you will see in the reading I will give you today.'' This way, your students are engaged and they know there is a purpose for the new vocabulary.

While nothing is written on stone when it comes to the number of words you would pre-teach, a list of eight to ten words is ideal so that your students are not overwhelmed. Now, let's look at the options you have to pre-teach vocabulary.

PowerPoint: Images, Pronunciation, and Spelling

This approach to pre-teach vocabulary uses visuals, listening, and spelling practice on the spot, to involve auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learners.

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