Create Your Own Vocabulary Activities

When English EFL, ESL, or foreign language learning students ask you, “Teacher, what can I do to learn more words faster?” Here’s an answer that will serve you and them handsomely. Create your own TEFL vocabulary-building games, activities, and puzzles to boost your vocabulary in record time. Not sure how to go about it? Here are some suggestions:

Complete the Chart

First fill in a chart of foods under categories like:

• Fruits

• Vegetables

• Meats and Proteins

• Fish and Seafood

• Dairy Products

• Cereals and starches

You can use a dictionary, talk with classmates or friends, look at pictures, etc. whatever you can to get yourself the biggest list you can as fast as you can. Once you have a good “stash” of vocabulary, reinforce it by using it in other activities like the ones that follow.

Create a Word-Find puzzle

Make a 15 space by 15 space grid on a letter-size sheet. You can use a computer or manually draw one. Leave space at the top of the page for a title and other data. There should be an even larger space at the bottom of the sheet. This is going to be the space for your word list. Now, using any of the words from your chart, make a list of about 25 to 30 words at the bottom of your puzzle page. Then, fill in the grid spaces using those words. Horizontally, vertically, diagonally, even backward will do to use up as many spaces as you can.

If you’re using this exercise in a class, students swap papers to solve each other’s puzzles. They can also check for errors, omissions, and missing words or letters. You’ll be using peer correction to its fullest.

Categories to Be Used

Word lists are created using relevant themes from the class. Examples of “evergreen” themes that can be used repeatedly include:

• Clothes and colors

• Occupations – Jobs

• Food and food categories

• Parts of the body

• Furniture and Rooms of the House

• Animals and Pets

• Cities in your state or country

• Cities and Countries of the World

• Famous – Historic People and Places

• Verbs (Regular or Irregular)

• Music (artists, types of, instruments, etc.)

The list of possibilities is virtually endless. You’ll also be able to use these same categories and word lists in other exercise types coming up in Part 2 of this series.

Three of my favorite puzzle creation programs are available online:

Puzzle Maker website http://www.puzzlemaker.com is the simplest and easiest the trio of puzzle creation programs. It will also allow you to create word finds and other puzzle types. It’s available free online, can be learned in a few minutes, and doesn’t require downloads or prior knowledge.

Hot Potato website for creating puzzles

Hot Potatoes Home Page
News – 2020-04-16 A minor update to Hot Potatoes (version 7.0.3.0) has been released. This removes references to the HTML non-breaking-space entity which is no longer defined in HTML5. Agnès Simonet has released new versions of her excellent Hot Potatoes add-ons, along with those originally written by Michael Rottmeier, for version 7 of Hot Potatoes. You can find them at http://hpaddons.free.fr/. Hot Potatoes 7 was first released in 2019. You should be able to install and use it alongside version 6.3 if you would like to keep using both versions. The source files are not compatible, though, so if you have custom source files for version 6, you will need to rewrite them for version 7. We are now working on an updated version of Quandary, which is available for pre-testing. What are Hot Potatoes? The Hot Potatoes suite includes six applications, enabling you to create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises for the World Wide Web. Hot Potatoes is freeware, and you may use it for any purpose or project you like. It is not open-source. The Java version provides all the features found in Windows version 6, except that you can’t export a SCORM object from Java Hot Potatoes. Downloads Download Hot Potatoes for Windows from here: Hot Potatoes 7.0 installer (Hot Potatoes version 7.0.3.0 for Windows 98/ME/NT4/2000/XP/Vista/7/8/8.1/10 as well as Linux under Wine). The older version 6.3.0.5 is also available for download. Download Java Hot Potatoes: Download Java Hot Potatoes which will run on Mac OS X, Windows, Linux or any computer running a Java Virtual Machine. To install and run Java Hot Potatoes on Mac OS X: Download the file javahotpot61.zip from the link above. Unzip that file on your computer, you will have a folder called JavaHotPot6. Drag the JavaHotPot6 folder to the Applications directory on your computer. Open the folder and double-click the JavaHotPotatoes6 application icon. Trash the javahotpot61.zip file. When you first start up Hot Potatoes, it will ask you for your user name. This name is stored on your computer, and not sent to anyone; it will be inserted into your exercises to identify you as the author. You must provide a user name before you can use all the features of Hot Potatoes. Other software from the same authors If the presentation of this site appears compromised (strange alignment, small text), the most likely reason is that your browser is not compliant with these current standards.

is fairly simple to manage, although more complex than Puzzle Maker. A demo version is available for free online, with the full version requiring only free registration if you’re in the USA.

If you love flashy colors, are an artist who paints, draws, cartoons creates or crafts, then your brain is high – developed in the visual-spatial area. Do jigsaw puzzles increment and stimulate your brain? Then visit this website for more info and to try your hand at some visual-spatial activities. You can create or associate word lists to accompany each of the puzzles offered for free download at:

• Jigsaw puzzle free downloads

Jigsaw Puzzle – 100% Free Download | GameTop
Jigsaw Puzzle Free Downloads for PC. Play this insanely entertaining and realistic puzzle game, Jigsaw Puzzle!

We’ll continue in Part 2 of this series with more suggestions for developing English language vocabulary at the fastest possible rate for learning English as a foreign or second language. The same techniques exactly apply to developing foreign language vocabulary. In the next section, we will focus on creating specialized puzzles like crossword puzzles, using the same vocabulary lists you’ve already developed. See you in Part

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