TESL Technique Exercises #3: Word-a-Day


Level: Any

Materials Needed: Students need a notebook set aside for this ongoing exercise.

Time: 15 min. exercise

Purpose: To allow students to build vocabulary in a useful manner by putting it to use in writing skills.  Students should learn to express themselves and ideas about their surroundings. Also this exercise makes writing a consistent but fun part of their learning. This could be a good starter to open each class session.


1) Each day the teacher gives the student one or two words.  Students write them down in their notebook creating a dictionary which will grow throughout the year.

(These words should be ones which are somehow used in the lesson so they are not merely abstract ideas for the students.)


I suggest words which teach the student to express feeling, who they are, and their environment.

Here are a few examples.

feel   sad   cold

taste   happy   hot

ate   joy   tasty

try   impatient  long

want   angry/mad  boring

(different verb tenses can be used accommodate various student levels)

2) At the end of the week students are allotted a time to write a sentence (as they advance it may be increased to a paragraph) incorporating the words learned that week.  The teacher may need to prime them with a question at first.  “What do you think of this classroom?  Write about how you feel when you are with your family.” The main idea is to get them writing.

Note: The teacher may decide to grade this or not but I think this exercise would be a good means to evaluate how well the students are learning, hear comments on the classroom and get to know the students on a more personal level.  However, teachers must be sure to not betray the trust a student may place in them when they write about  personal matters