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November 2014
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Free Activities From New Ways in Teaching Vocabulary, Revised
Edited by Averil Coxhead

These activities come from New Ways in Teaching Vocabulary, Revised, edited by Averil Coxhead (TESOL, 2014). Look for the book on sale in the TESOL Bookstore in early November, and check out the other books in the New Ways series.

Accuracy Vocabulary Party

Natalia Petersen

Levels: All
Aims: Consolidate accurate use of target vocabulary in context
Class Time: 15 minutes+
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Resources: List of target words

This game requires previous study of the target words. It is a good way for students to produce the target words in context, focussing on form.


  1. Allocate a word to each student in the class from the list of target words.
  2. Ask students to write a question using the target word which they can ask their classmates. Family words are fine.
  3. Check the questions for accuracy before giving students a slip of paper to write their question on.
  4. Once all students have a slip with a question, ask them to bring the slips to the front of the room and place them face down on a table.
  5. Ask students to take a slip each, look at the question, memorise it and hide the slip behind their back.
  6. Students then have a “vocabulary party,” mixing and mingling, taking turns to ask and answer questions.
  7. After students have asked a partner their question, they take another question and follow the same procedure, finding new partners to ask.
  8. Conclude the task by asking students if they can remember any of the questions.


  1. Prepare the questions on the slips before class. This ensures students have good models to memorise.
  2. Slips can be saved and reused with a focus on developing fluency so that students rely less on the slips and are given less time to ask and answer with each repetition.

Risky Business

Philippa Lyall

Levels: All
Aims: Notice and correct vocabulary errors (family word or collocation) in writing;
Explain accurate use of vocabulary in groups and to the class
Class Time: 20 minutes+
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Resources: Whiteboard
Six sentences containing one or two vocabulary errors from students’ writing


  1. Divide the class into mixed-ability teams of three to four students.
  2. Provide each team with a list of six sentences containing one or two vocabulary errors from their writing (one copy of the list of sentences for each team).
  3. Assign a section of whiteboard to the teams for their answers and totals. Start each team with “$500” to bet with.
  4. Ask the class, “Are these sentences correct?” Also mention that there may be one or two correct sentences.
  5. Have the teams quietly study and discuss the first sentence for no more than 5 minutes. Then ask them to put their correction for the sentence on the whiteboard and decide how much of their money they are prepared to bet on whether their correction is right.
  6. Invite one team with the correct answer to explain their correction(s) to the class. Confirm the answer and tell the team with the correct answer that they win what they bet; those with incorrect answers deduct their bet from their total of money.
  7. Move onto the next sentence and continue as above.
  8. The team with the most money at the end wins.


  1. Keep the pace quite fast and make sure everyone stops to listen carefully to the explanation of the correct answer given by their peers.
  2. Teams can get quite competitive and noisy.
  3. Include one correct sentence from a student’s writing (anonymously) with a particularly nice feature you want the others to notice.
  4. Teams can borrow from the bank to stay in the game if they have to.
  5. The game can also be made more challenging with a grammar error as well.


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Table of Contents
TC Homepage
Intercultural Skills for the EFL Classroom
Applying for International Teaching Jobs
Confessions of a Digital Neanderthal
Quick Tip: M is for Motivation
Activities from New Ways in Teaching Vocabulary, Revised
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