This is a great way to preface a text (especially a longer one), finds the main vocabulary needed to understand the text, and presents it in a cool way. Best for B1-C2 levels.
- Find the text in digital format, for example, an article or wikipedia entry. Copy the text into a word cloud generator (there are a ton, just check the ones that are compatible with your computer). Press enter and voila, you have a word cloud. (you can make adjustments to the settings).
- Show the word cloud to the learners. Explain these are the most frequent words from a text (the larger, the more frequent). Ask them if there are any unknown words, pre-teach them or ask the others to explain if they know.
- Then ask the Ls to predict what the text is about. I usually write a few of the guesses on the board.
- Then read the text (using whatever strategies you normally use for texts). Check if their predictions where correct.
- Then have them write or give an oral summary of the text using the words in the word cloud. This is where the unknown words will move from passive understanding to active use.
This is basically a great confidence booster. When the Ls get a long text with lots of new words, it can be demotivating. But when you explain that they just need the main words, that helps. Usually, however, they don’t KNOW what the “main” words are. A word cloud helps out in that area as it pulls the words with the highest frequency (usually omitting words like a, the, it etc which can be changed in the settings).
1-1: This works perfectly for 1-1 as described above.
I use this exercise with any level from B1-C2. I usually use it with a text, for example an article.
- After doing an interactive lead-in to the topic and prediction questions based on the headline, distribute the text/article.
- As homework have the learners read the text (if it is long, break it into sections and one group reads one section).
- Then they should create a vocabulary quiz (including collocations, phrasal verbs, idioms etc.). The quiz can take various forms and they are allowed to choose:
- match the definition to the word (they get the definitions from a dictionary)
- find the word in the text with this definition… (from a dictionary)
- gap fill (they type a sentence from the text and leave one word/phrase out)
- label the diagram with words from the text (they bring a diagram)
- broken collocations (match the first part of the collocation to the second part)
- I usually limit it to 5 or 10 words. The learners are already familiar with these exercises from me, books, workbooks and worksheets from the training, so remind them to look at those for inspiration.
- They bring enough copies for everyone in class.
- You can do the quizzes as a straight up “test” or I like to make a game out of it. Give them a few minutes alone (or in pairs if weaker) if needed or do it spontaneously for stronger learners. Then “Who has number 4 on Maria’s quiz?” and give a point to the first team to correctly answer it.
It’s great to see them create these quizzes. Once they are strong on the vocabulary, of course we return to the actual text and then do various discussion/comprehension activities.