So, to "recycle" the message of this module one more time:

  • vocabulary must be actively taught, learned, recycled and when possible, tailored to the students' needs and goals
  • vocabulary must be recycled continually throughout the lesson
  • exposure to the vocabulary must occur in multiple contexts
  • students need to manipulate the vocabulary in both receptive and productive activities
  • a combination of speaking and writing activities must be used
Instructor's Final Comments

As I observe the way that my elementary school children are taught Spanish, I am both encouraged and frustrated by what I see. On the one hand, their teachers do a great job in presenting the vocabulary, at least initially. My children bring home coloring pages that they must label with the correct vocabulary items, and matching exercises in which they must match up images with words. They are also required to make flash cards with the Spanish word on one side, accompanied by a drawing to represent the word's meaning, and a translation on the reverse. My children enjoy this process, and embrace it eagerly. On a less positive note, this is where it all ends. Once the words are memorized, the teacher begins the next lesson, never referring back to the vocabulary which has already been learned, nor is that vocabulary ever encountered within a richer context. When my children encounter the older words, they no longer remember them, as they were never required to actually use them in a meaningful context. If they are able to recall the isolated word, that is all it is, an isolated word.

I cannot adequately stress the importance of teaching and recycling vocabulary. If more time could be spent practicing and engaging in meaningful activities in the classroom using these memorized words, learners would have an increased chance of internalizing them and being able to use them effectively. Choose a variety of vocabulary teaching techniques that complement your teaching style and textbook, and equip your students with the strategies they need to learn their vocabulary.