Tips for Learning New Vocabulary Words

Learning Spelling by Repetition


One effective method of teaching students to spell is through repetition. However, the trick is to make repetitive information interesting, while avoiding boredom.  Simply repeating words is not a great strategy, and chances are that the student will not remember. This type of repetition fails to engage the learner, making it more difficult for them to retain information.

Varied Repetition
The best way to use repetition as a means of teaching spelling is by varying your technique. This is accomplished by developing a weekly vocabulary list. The list can be centered on a topic such as “animals” or popular letter combinations such as “th”. Throughout the week, incorporate the vocabulary list into a variety of different lessons.  Repetition is achieved by using the same words, but the lessons and activities are still unique and interesting.

Introducing Vocabulary
The week should begin by introducing vocabulary. Give students a chance to write out each word on the list and use it in a sentence. In addition, make sure the words are spelled correctly. After students have become familiar with the words and meanings, you can begin to use them in exercises. Have the students come up to the board and write one example sentence for each vocabulary word.

Start Repetition
For the next lesson, try something entirely different, but remain focused on the vocabulary words. For instance, it is easy to play hangman, choosing words from the vocabulary list. In addition, make a crossword puzzle using all of the words. After a week of seeing the same words used in different activities, students will be much more likely to remember them. Keeping a central theme to the vocabulary words is not necessary, but can be helpful.

Types of Words
There are certain words that are easier to spell than others. Sometimes, even short words can be difficult because of irregular spelling. Words like “the”, “sign” and “phone” are all relatively short words that have tricky spellings. These are the best to include in repetition exercises, because they are easier to memorize than they are to sound out. Other words such as “dog” and “cat” are easy to sound out and do not need to be memorized.

Bringing the Lesson Full Circle
After spending a week on a particular vocabulary list, it is time to switch to a new one. However, make sure you check back about a month later to ensure that students are retaining the information. If students are finding it difficult to remember the spelling of certain words from the vocabulary list, perhaps you should spend a little bit more time on each list. Remember, the more often words are repeated, the more likely students are to remember them.