10 commonly made mistakes in vocabulary instruction

seriously interesting reminders about how to (and how not to) teach vocabulary.

The Language Gym

Please note: this post was written in collaboration with Steve Smith of http://www.frenchteacher.net and Dylan Vinales of Garden International School.


In this post I will concern myself with ten very common pitfalls of vocabulary instruction and with ways in which they can be easily pre-emptied.

Mistake1 – Shallow encoding practices

As already mentioned in many previous posts of mine, a to-be-learnt word lingers in our Working Memory for no longer than two or three seconds immediately after we hear it. Thus, in order to commit it effectively to Long-term Memory, we must perform some form of rehearsal. Rehearsal involves either ‘shallow’ or ‘deep’ processing.

In shallow processing we use repetition or matching a word to a visual cue. In deep processing, on the other hand, the brain performs problem-solving operations which require more attentional investment and higher order thinking (e.g. analysis and evaluation) and are meaning-orientated. Typical vocabulary teaching…

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