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ESL forum > Techniques and methods in Language Teaching > Vocabulary and sentence building    

Vocabulary and sentence building


Vocabulary and sentence building
I have a private student (14 y.o.) in the 7th grade (level 3) and he finds difficult to build sentences in general, mainly because he doesn�t have much vocabulary. Do you have any ideas on how I can help him in our private lessons? I just don�t know how to start... I confess I´m a bit lost... Confused
Do you think solving tests (reading comprehension) helps him with this problem?

Thanks in advance :)


21 May 2013      


Hi Patricia I had the same problem before. I guess what you can do, is try helping him with vocabulary and form a sentence with it. Like 10 vocab and with the same sentence.

21 May 2013     

United States

I would start with . vocabulary for topics that he is interested in. Does he like sports, music, movies, or video games? He will WANT to learn those words! Second, teach him to look for correspondences between words in Portuguese and English. I �m not that familiar with Portuguese, but as a Romance language, surely many words are similar to English words. That may expand his vocabulary a lot right there. You might also teach some of the morphemes, or word roots, that we use in English. That said, working on his reading comprehension can �t hurt. But either work with his textbooks or pick reading material that he �s interested in, even if that �s comic books. Think KISS: Keep It Short [and] Simple. Don �t overwhelm him, especially if he also has problems with reading comprehension in Portuguese.

21 May 2013     

United States

I really like this website:
You may be able to use the "Jumbled Sentences" exercises and there are also such exercises with the "Easy Reading" section (I use these a lot).

22 May 2013     


Using Moody Moody �s suggestion, focus on themes he is interested in (that �ts the key to motivate him)and try to help him write KISS sentences (I didn �t know this one, and I just loved it!)and try to have him use a group of ten - twenty words at a time to make as many sentences as he possibly can. Practical exemple: Choose some ten- fifteen nouns related to sports and five to ten verbs also related to sports, then print them in capital letters and cut them out (so that you end up with some twenty separate cards). Then use three A4 paper sheets of different colours (or three pieces of cardboard, or just regular paper marked with three diferente colours, or ...) and assign a "role" (I mean, a grammatical category) to each one (e.g. - whatever you place on the yellow cardboard will be a subject; red will be the middle cardboard because it is the location for verbs and finally blue will accomodate the object, of any kind). Start by going over the vocabulary cards with youtr student, to make sure he understands them well, and then ask him to build sentences with them on the three coloured sections. Help him organize the sentence (adding an -s to the verb, if it a 3rd person singular in the present simple tense, or inserting "a" or "the" right before a noun, or turning the noun into the plural, or ...) and then check its meaning; once you have succeeded in building such a sentence, ask him to copy it to his notebook (it will help him memorize the words and the atructure) and then proceed to the funny part of it all - swap the cards you had used as subject and object ("the player" and "the ball" in the sentence "THE PLAYER kicks THE BALL", for instance)and check if the new sentence still makes sentence (you might end up with something funny, like "THE BALL kicks THE PLAYER"). ;-)

22 May 2013