An activity to review coursebook vocabulary and aid retention.

  • Age: any
  • Level: all
  • Skills: spelling, speaking, skimming & scanning, writing
  • Materials: coursebook, board, dictionary
  • Time: depending on level – 50 minutes at intermediate

Stage one: focus

  1. Choose 10 to 12 core vocabulary items from the coursebook unit you have finished, noting the pages on which they can be found.
  2. Tell your students you are going to give them a spelling test and they need a pen and a piece of paper.
  3. Read out the vocabulary items and get your students to write them down.

Stage two: skimming and scanning

  1. Get your students to compare their answers.
  2. Next, tell them that they can check their spelling by finding the vocabulary items in the coursebook, noting which pages they found them on.
  3. When they have finished get them to compare their answers then feedback and check as a class.

Stage three: checking meaning

  1. Ask if there are any items that are unknown. If so, ask if the meaning can be worked out from the context on the page. If students are really having trouble let them use a dictionary.
  2. Next, put the students into two teams. Ask one student from each team to sit with their back to the whiteboard.
  3. Explain that you are going to write a vocabulary item on the board and that the teams must explain the vocabulary item to the person sitting with their back to the board. This generates a lot of competition and discussion.
  4. When a team has guessed correctly award them a point  on the board and concept check.
  5. When all the vocabulary items have been guessed give the winners a big round of applause.

Stage four: production

  1. Put students into groups of 3-4 and ask them to invent a story with as many of the vocabulary items as possible.
  2. Ask them to write it out. When all the groups are finished ask them to read them out and invite comments from the class.


Stage four could be substituted by any activity that generates vocabulary production and memory retention.