Repetition is Key! 4 Ways to Provide More Exposure to New Vocabulary

increase exposure to new vocabulary through repetition
From flash cards to example sentences, providing students with multiple ways and contexts to learn vocabulary is important to all areas of instruction.

The Repetition Method is the Tried & True Way to Learn New Words

Anyone over 25 can surely remember making vocabulary flash cards, writing words over and over to learn the spelling, and using example sentences to try and cement the meaning of new words.

Today’s students have an endless supply of mobile vocabulary flash card apps to choose from, so they don’t have to carry around the classic pile of colored index cards. Regardless of the medium, the method of repetition to learn new words is not likely to fade anytime soon, nor should it, according to years of research.

In a recent article in Education Leadership, Lawrence at al. explained that, “Probably the most consistent finding related to good vocabulary instruction is that students need multiple exposures to a word to learn it well.” The National Institute for Literacy has also highlighted the importance, noting that, “Once vocabulary words have been selected, teachers should consider how to make repeated exposures to the word or concept productive and enjoyable.”

Ensuring that the multiple exposures are significant and engaging is an important priority for teachers, and fortunately there is a plethora of interesting and exciting ways to reinforce new words.

How to Provide Multiple Exposure of Vocabulary in the Classroom

  1. Have students create word sorts. Differentiate the activity by letting advanced groups determine the categories they are sorting into. For beginning students, choose categories they recognize well and understand.
  2. Bring flash cards to the next level. Have students go beyond the word and definition to also include lists of examples and non-examples. Ask them to draw a simple picture that reminds them of the new word, or connect the word to a physical action they can act out as they review.
  3. Use concept maps to help students activate schema and build connections to new words. Concept maps help with understanding relationships between topics, and synthesizing these together. Putting vocabulary in a concept map helps students understand the place of this new word in both academic instruction, and their life.
  4. Easiest way? Make a lesson on www.lessonwriter.com and automatically get a lesson with up to seven different exposures to new vocabulary. Our pre-teach vocabulary section gives instructors an opportunity to introduce new vocabulary via whole class or small group instruction. After students encounter the vocabulary in the context of the passage, they complete three separate reinforcement exercises (fill-in-the-blank, matching, and write your own sentences). Teachers can also easily create flash cards and word searches from these vocabulary words as well, to help the students learn on their own.


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And there you have it. Four ways you can help your students build their vocabulary and enhance their literacy! How do you teach your students vocabulary? What have you found to be the best way? The worst?

Need more time in the day? Use LessonWriter to make your lessons! LessonWriter was made by a group of teachers who knew how much time they could save teachers by putting all their lesson-writing work in one platform. Just copy and paste a link into LessonWriter.com, and then customize your lesson as much or as little as you want! Oh, and did we mention it’s free? Try it today

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8 comments

  1. Further research tells us that students must use a word in correct context 40 times before they have “ownership” of it — that is, it becomes a part of their working, everyday vocabulary. Nice to know that some ideas about literacy are time-tested and unchanging. Great article.

    • Thanks so much for the great comment. The fact that it can take 40 usages for a student to really “own” a word really underscores the importance of curriculum planning that avoids the trap of going a mile wide but only an inch deep.

  2. I agree with Repetition is Key.

    But what about : To Force the Memory to Remember the learned word.

  3. […] Learning vocabulary (particularly academic vocabulary) is key for students’ success in literacy. One of the best ways to do that is pre-teaching difficult vocabulary. Pre-teaching vocabulary helps the reader approach new text by giving them meanings of words before encountering them in context. It reduces the number of unfamiliar words, as well as improves vocabulary acquisition and comprehension. […]

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