Techniques for Teaching Vocabulary and Online Teaching Software

For those who are seeking ways of teaching vocabulary, this article might be helpful!

Learning English is still not easy for those countries where English is not their mother tongue. Acquiring the right number of vocabulary words seems to be essential to be able to support the listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. There are various techniques for teaching vocabulary, like the audiolingual method, but one of the most popular teaching techniques is Meaning, Sound, and Form (MSF) (sometimes called Meaning, Pronunciation, and Spelling (MPS). The name itself describes the teaching methodology. To illustrate, teachers should start their teaching with “meaning’’; by this means, teachers will let students understand those words first by showing pictures, descriptions, and others. Students may not know the words in English. In fact, if they know Thai words, That’s perfect!

Technique for Vocabulary Teaching: Meaning, Sound, and Form (MSF)

As soon as students know the meaning of the words, teachers can have them pronounce those words in English, which is called ‘sound’. In order to do this, teachers let their students speak after the teacher as the whole class first two to three times. Then, the teachers can separate the class into smaller groups and let them speak again as a smaller group. After that, the teachers let the students pronounce the words individually so as to make sure that all of them have the correct pronunciation.

Now students understand the meaning and the sound of the words, and it is time to let your students know their form. At this point, the teachers can teach them how the words are spelt, how the words are used in the context, what they are collocated with other words, etc. The best way, in my opinion, to teach the spelling of a word is to spell every letter and pause after every syllable. For example, the word “classroom” has two syllables, so the spelling should be [class || room]. The word “beautiful” has three syllables, so the spelling should be [beau || ti || ful]. The word “interesting” also has three syllables (not four), so the spelling should be [in || teres || ting]. When you let them spell it the way that word is pronounced, your students will recall its spelling.

Before I end my article here, let me recommend one programme supporting this approach to vocabulary teaching. “Quizlet” is an online programme with which I presume most of the teachers are familiar with. The programme is underpinned by the MSF approach. After you finish making a lesson with Quizlet, try clicking on the Flashcard menu, then clicking on the Present button. You will see that the programme will show you the picture or description of a word (meaning). Then you can click on the sound button at the corner (sound) to play the sound of the word. After that, click on any area of the presentation. The programme will flip to the other side, showing the word (form). Now you know how to play, right? Bravo… You have become a technologically literate teacher of English.

Please share and ask any comments or questions you may have. I love to hear it.

I’m Charles, a Thai teacher of English, from Bansomdejchaopraya Rajabhat University, Bangkok, Thailand.



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Chalermsup Karanjakwut

A technologically-literate teacher of English who has a passion for teaching hopes to enhance Thai students’ English proficiency