Developing Teachers.com
A web site for the developing language teacher

Vocabulary Notebooks –
Ways to make them work
by Robert Ledbury
- 2

This is a practical text that anyone interested in promoting the effective use of vocabulary notebooks would do well to refer to. Nation (2001) has a similar list of principles which include the following additional point: “students should be excited about the progress they make in their vocabulary learning”. An advantage of a mandatory and carefully designed programme such as that described below is that students can become very motivated by the progress they make as it can raise their awareness of how their knowledge of vocabulary is improving. The following training schedule is adapted from the Schmitt and Schmitt article mentioned above.

Reader task

Read through the training programme below and identify each aspect of word knowledge (mentioned in principle 5 above) that is mentioned.

VOCABULARY NOTEBOOKS –a sample training programme

WEEK 1

Day 1

  • Introduce Ss to the idea of the vocabulary notebook as an important course objective, as an important way of improving vocabulary (and passing Exams!).
  • Tell students what materials they need (A suitable notebook, coloured pens, highlighters, a good dictionary)

Day 2

  • Introduce 10 new words to learn from Offline 1*.
  • Ss write L1 translations/L2 synonyms on front page and the new word on the back. Show Ss an example.
  • Ask Ss to choose 10 new words from previous lessons and add them to their notebooks in the same way.

Day 3

  • Using good learner’s dictionaries show students how to find phonemic script and part of speech for 10 of the words.
  • Ask Ss to write this information in their notebooks for all 20 words.

Day 4

  • Ask Ss to write an example sentence from Offline 1 text or a learner’s dictionary.

Day 5

  • Collect in the students’ notebooks to check that the information they have written is correct.

WEEK 2

Day 1

  • Introduce this week’s 10 words from the Offline 1 wordlist
  • Give students a worksheet that shows students how to form derivatives from the new words.
  • Tell Ss to write the new words, the L1 translations/L2 synonyms and derivatives in their notebooks.

Day 2

  • Ask Ss to identify 10 new words of their own from Offline 1 texts/Offline 1 word list to learn.
  • Ask them to write them in their notebooks with L1 translations/L2 synonym and derivatives in their notebooks.

Day 3

  • Tell Ss to add derivative information to this week’s words and all of last week’s information (L1 translation/L2 synonym, part of speech, phonemic script) to this week’s words.

Day 4

  • Remind Ss to continue working with their vocabulary notebooks.
  • Remind Ss that they can add new words form their grammar and writing lessons.

Day 5

  • Collect in the students’ notebooks to check that the information they have written is correct.

*Offline 1 is a reading skills/vocabulary development course that draws on the General Service List and Academic Word List and published by Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey.

WEEK 3

Day 1

  • Introduce this week’s 10 new words from the Offline 1 word list.
  • Give the Ss a worksheet that shows them how to choose the right meaning of a word. See Offline 1 p44-45
  • Get Ss to write the words in their notebooks

Day 2

  • Ask Ss to choose 10 new words of their from Offline 1 texts/Offline 1 word list to learn. Ask Ss to bring in their notebooks tomorrow.

Day 3

  • Ss practice teaching and testing each other on new words from their notebooks.
  • Ss record/copy example sentences for the 10 new words.

Day 4

  • Remind Ss to continue working with their vocabulary notebooks.
  • Remind Ss that they can add new words form from their grammar and writing lessons.

Day 5

  • Collect in the students’ notebooks to check that the information they have written is correct.

WEEK 4

Day 1

  • Introduce this week’s 10 new words from the Offline 1 word list.
  • Give the Ss a worksheet that draws their attention to the importance of collocations (word partners).
  • Refer Ss to Offline 1 p47
  • Get Ss to write the new words in their notebooks together with their word partners.

Day 2

  • Ask Ss to identify 10 new words of their from Offline 1 texts/Offline word list to learn.
  • Ask students to find collocations in a learner’s dictionary or Offline 1 texts.

Day 3

  • Ask students to search for word partners for words previously recorded in their notebooks.

Day 4

  • Remind Ss to continue working with their vocabulary notebooks.
  • Remind Ss that they can add new words form their grammar and writing lessons.

Day 5

  • Collect in the students’ notebooks to check that the information they have written is correct.

The schedule above exposes students to the following aspects of word knowledge of eighty words over a period of four weeks: form and spelling, translation, pronunciation, sample sentence (and therefore related grammar), derivatives, meaning(s), and collocations. Principle 5 above refers to the fact that students need to be aware that in addition to meaning, students must be aware of the form (spelling etc.) of the word its pronunciation (sounds and stress), related grammar (verb patterns, prepositions), collocations and different connotations. Notice how students not only learn a great deal about each word they meet, but also revisit each word several times thereby satisfying the requirement of principle 10.

To page 3 of 4

To the print friendly version

Back to the articles index

Back to the top


Tips & Newsletter Sign up —  Current Tip —  Past Tips 
Train with us Online Development Courses    Lesson Plan Index
 Phonology — Articles Books  LinksContact
Advertising — Web Hosting — Front page


Copyright 2000-2016© Developing Teachers.com