Mesleki Gelişim

Professıonal Development Actıvıtıes: Vocabulary Learnıng Strategıes


The title for the workshop session was “Vocabulary Learning Strategiesrun by Assoc. Prof. Dr. İlknur İstifçi.



İlknur hocam started off by asking us to reflect on two quotes:

“Vocabulary is a matter of word-building as well as word-using” David Crystal

“One forgets words as one forgets names. One’s vocabulary needs constant fertilizing or it will die.” Evelyn Waugh

This mini-reflection session was followed by two key questions:

  • When teaching vocabulary, what are the significant factors that shape your teaching practices?
  • What kind of approaches do you use to teach vocabulary?


These questions naturally sparkled a discussion on why we thought teaching vocabulary was challenging, especially for our context.

For the first question, we mostly talked about how complex learning a vocabulary item could be, and what it really meant to know a word. Some of the issues / factors that stood out (to me) during the discussion were:

  • Age and level of our students
  • Part of Speech
  • Form & Meaning & Usage
  • Salience
  • Pronunciation
  • Difference between spelling and pronunciation (Particularly interesting and important- I thought)

Then we moved onto the approaches / techniques / activities we found useful. We talked about the particular situations where these activities and techniques would be most effective as well as the reasons why we chose those particular ones. Below is a list we came up with:  

  • Awareness raising activities in general
  • Sample sentences in context
  • Recycling of the vocabulary items
  • Games & Songs
  • Word puzzles
  • Pictures / Realia
  • Scrambled words
  • Here and now: Encouraging the students to make use of the things in their surroundings-wherever they are
  • Prefixes-suffixes (part of speech)
  • Guessing (game-like) activities
  • Translation activities
  • Student generated activities (Quizzes and / or lists for vocab recycling e.g.: quizlet)
  • Encouraging the students to reflect on what they know & what they don’t know
  • Vocabulary file


The next question İlknur Hocam asked was about what we did as language learners (and what our teachers did). This question created some (more) discussion:

  • Do / can our students make use of this activity / technique, too?
  • (How) is it any different compared to what we did?

Here is the list of what we did when we were language learners:

  • Writing a vocabulary item 5-10 times

It was interesting (for me at least) to see that most of us did this as learners. It was also mentioned that our students have spelling problems. As for the reasons, “spell-check” and “ not enough written practice” came to mind.

  • Word-lists- phrasal verbs
  • Word-association techniques
  • Making use of cognate words (mentioned particularly for French)
  • Reading extensively
  • Keeping a vocabulary notebook
  • Pictures / Realia
  • Games (Dictionary Race)
  • Word cards
  • Collocations (Matching activities)
  • Using a dictionary (for several reasons / in several ways)
  • Translation activities
  • Theme-topic related words (Word-webs)

Although this is not a very comprehensive list, it turned out that we, or rather our teachers, combined a couple of ways: games and word-webs, cognate words and vocabulary notebooks.


İlknur Hocam then continued with what (other) strategies we can apply and if we factor in the level of our students when deciding which strategies we can use.

Some of the questions / suggestions / concerns were:

  • Since strategy training is no longer the focus of researchers, we don’t know what the qualities of the good learners’ habits are (now)
  • What are the strategies we can apply?
  • (How) can we encourage students to use these strategies
  • How can we integrate technology & vocabulary teaching?

This particular question, I think, opened up a can of worms: we ended up discussing technology in relation with vocabulary teaching: many resources are at our students’ disposal, but

does the availability of these resources necessarily lead to better learning in terms of vocabulary knowledge?

does it guarantee learning or is it a threat?


  • How are learning styles taken into account? Are they ignored?

and eventually came this question “Are we doing too much –with regard to integrating technology? or are we integrating technology into our teaching? (This is probably a question for our Technology Integration Team)

Finally, some web-sites mentioned are:

For word association activities:

Memory posters: glogster (shame it’s not free any more)


Game maker (different games here)

Multiple meaning presentations:

Concordances: (for collocations)

A list of top 200 tools:

Some can be used for languages other than English, but below are websites commonly used to help French language learners: 

We would like to thank everyone who participated and shared their ideas and experiences with us all.


We would also like to thank Assoc. Prof. Dr. İlknur İstifçi for this workshop session. For the slides she used in this workshop, please contact her:


PD Unit

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