Practice with Practical Vocabulary

I’ve written in the past about the value of teaching everyday vocabulary and the need to find an appropriate balance between general and academic words. To support students’ efforts to learn both, I’m creating two new series of videos. The first is up and running on my website. Please encourage students to visit my page for Everyday Vocabulary.

Here are three classroom ideas to do post-viewing. Choose the communicative activity that suits your students best.

  • Partner Recap: Assign two different videos to be watched before class. In class, ask students to recall the information learned by describing a how-to process to a partner. For example, Student A must explain how to brew a cup of tea (Video: Drinking Tea). Student B must explain what is needed in order to mail a letter by regular mail (Video: Mailing a Letter). Once each partner has recapped his or her assigned video, they can do so again for the class. A volunteer in the role of Student A will provide a short recap. Others in the role of Student A can volunteer additional information or clarification. Repeat the process for the role of Student B.
  • Q & A Recall: Assign two different videos to be watched before class. Divide students into two teams. Team A must answer questions about Video 1. Team B must answers questions about Video 2. If a team answers correctly, they get two points. If a team cannot answer a question, the other team may try to answer in order to earn one point. Sample questions: (Video topic: Drinking Team) 1. Is a tea kettle exactly the same as a teapot? 2. What does it mean to “steep” tea? 3. In what two forms can you find tea? 4. Name three condiments people like with tea.
  • Sort and Say: Assign two different videos to be watched before class. Create word cards for each video. Create approximately the same number of words per topic. On the board write the two topics. Show one card at a time and ask the class to identify which topic it belongs to. Tape the card to the board under the appropriate topic. Once all the cards have been sorted, divide the class into two groups (or smaller groups if the class is large). Each group must use the words for their assigned topic to compose a text. The text can be a how-to description or a narrative (about someone in the group or a fictitious person).


Model: (Mailing a Letter)

Marvin doesn’t like to use computers, so he sends letters to friends and family by snail mail. Every month he goes to the post office to buy postage stamps. He thinks it’s interesting for people to see beautiful stamps on an envelope. He also likes to use nice stationery. When he’s done writing a letter, he seals it, writes the return address and mailing address, and the puts it in the mailbox.


31 Comments Add yours

  1. Dipak says:

    you are the best angel…

  2. hung vuong says:

    you are the best teacher and most wonderful lady in the world

    1. You’re very kind! Thanks for the enthusiastic support. 🙂

  3. Rajiv Tanwar says:

    great Jennnifer….
    I came across you in engineering in 2007 and now its amazing to see you again in 2011.
    You are best and undauntedly unstoppable …………..
    You are just amazing in English…..
    Keep going Jennifer

    1. Thank you, Rajiv! Yes, it’s been a long road since I began working online in 2007. I still have much to learn and there’s much I want to do.
      I try to set attainable goals, and in my heart there are some dreams… Time will tell which goals I’m able to reach and which dreams I can realize. 🙂

      1. mohammed mazhar says:

        jennifer you are a great teacher

  4. stephy says:

    hello !i am s chinese student ,learning english ,i have loved your english teaching since i saw u in youtube ,i learned the pronunciation course ,it is very useful for me !yeah !but,soon, unfortunately ,youtube website can’t be opened in chinese region ,either i couldn’t find your course at other websites .i still want to learn your course ,can you tell me another way to view your lessons? purchase or somewhere to download ? i will be very appreciate !

    stephy dion

    1. Hello. I’m very much aware that my YouTube videos are not accessible to the Chinese audience. It saddens me. However, I think my website should be viewable. Unfortunately, I can’t offer my videos through other platforms yet. Have you tried Vimeo? Sometimes users have more luck accessing my videos there than on YouTube. I have some of my videos posted on Vimeo under the name JenniferESL.

  5. Dhanusiya.V says:

    Hello Jennifer,
    My passion is to become an english trainer. I am visiting your site for the first time, I feel so great after seeing your videos. I need your tips constently to enlighten my students here.

    1. Best wishes to you in your teaching. Passion is a good thing to have. Please feel free to join my community forum on my website as well.

  6. faraz says:

    me faraz u r great and your teaching style is ausam keep going .u r sooo sweet

    1. Thank you for writing. I welcome you to join my community forum.

  7. SH KWON says:

    Hello, I’m a student who want to improve/get English skills higher.
    I’m really eager to be fluent in English. For reaching that my goal, your kindness and great useful website must help me for sure.
    Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!

    1. Thank you for the warm support. Keep up your studies, and may you reach all your goals!

  8. Jamyang says:

    Ms. Jennifer, it is a great pleasure to come across your website. Your English lesson online are wonderful. Thank you and Merry Christmas.



    1. Thank you, Jamyang. I wish you very happy holidays, too!
      – Jennifer

  9. maria says:

    jennifer, i cant use youtube… kindly tell me another link so from there i can download new lessons … I am a big fan of yours since 2010

    1. I have some videos on Vimeo and a larger number on BackpackTV.

      The full collection, though, is only on YouTube.
      Thank you for your support!
      Kind regards,

  10. bushra says:

    jennifer im bushra im working on my english skills siut counce 10 years but couldnt improved my speaking skills yet as good as it should be,,,please help…thanks

    1. Hello! Thank you for writing. I received your other message, too. I appreciate your support.
      Have you visited my website? I suggest looking through my Study Tips.
      You can also browse the Useful Links page. Focus on reading and listening practice. Also, I recommend some resources for younger learners, which you inquired about.
      Good luck!

  11. bushra says:

    hello jennifer…
    if we say ”you are kidding me”or ”you are putting on me”‘ do both have same meaning or what? please reply…thanks

  12. bushra says:

    dear jennifer could you please do some video lessons on useful proverbs…and some words like ”nearly escaped”,”about to ” etc…i do’nt know what this kind of words called…please teach us these things also..i’ll be grateful…

  13. Deepak says:

    I am Deepak from Nepal. I want to learn good english. you advice me.

    1. Hello Deepak!
      Please visit my website. I have a community forum, study tips, and exercises.
      Good luck to you!

  14. emilie says:

    hello… Can you add vocabulary video pleasee:))? thank you for everythink

    1. There is a new vocabulary video on YouTube.

  15. bushra says:

    please recommend some useful english learning apps for ipad…

    1. For working professionals, there’s GlobalEnglish lingo.

      I also like a lot of the literacy apps for young learners (native speakers). They can be used by adult language learners, too.

  16. bushra says:

    dear jennifer im bit nervous asking this but i cant help asking, how you styled your half up half down hair in video ”Trio, Connectagons & Melissa and Doug Blocks – A Parent’s Product Re”….i really love your styling…. teach us if u can it could also help improve english…thanks alot

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