Tools For Learning Vocabulary

In order to learn grammar and practice pronunciation you have to have some vocabulary in the language you are learning. And to allow you to practice talking you need to know a bunch of nouns and adjectives and verbs and prepositions. Only then can you say “My dog ate my homework!”

So what are some tools for quickly cementing some words in your head?

  1. Define some sets of basic words by category. See “Learning new words” for some recommendations. But load them into your Word Climber (see next item) app so that you can quickly memorize and review them so they stick.
  2. Word Climber – a fabulous program to use from your phone so you can constantly review your vocabulary no matter where you are (You have to have internet access). You get to choose the words and even pictures to add in. Start by adding 10 basic words for each of your preferred categories.You can pull simple pictures from the internet or actually take a picture of that object where you live and Word Climber will automatically add it to your word profile. You can also record a native speaker saying the word or phrase. You can’t beat that!
  3. TPRTotal Physical Response – this is a fun way to pick up new words! When the leader up front says a phrase like “touch your head”, everyone touches their head. When they say “rub your elbow” you rub your elbow.When you are learning new words, the first step is to recognize them when you hear them and associate them with the object they describe. The second stage is learning to say the word when you see it’s picture. Then lastly you learn to think of the word when you want to refer to it. TPRs are great for the first stage and kids (young and old) love them
  4. Vocabulary cards – these also work well, but you have to make them, find pictures to go on them, print them out and then create your own review system. But you can make them any size you want so they will fit into your pockets. They also don’t require internet or iphone access. In some parts of the world that is a plus!


Coming up with words is the easy part. Memorizing and retaining them is the hard part and that requires a good review system. That is part of what I love about Word Climber! The creator of Word Climber reviewed the studies on language learning and created a system that reviews the words with the frequency you need to maximize your recall. Check it out!

For more details see the concise and easy to read description of TPR at The Teacher Tool Kit. It explains how to use it and three variations of it.

For a fuller, more detailed description of TPRs see Total Physical Response: Meaning, Method, Examples.

Additional Vocabulary Building Apps

Additional Articles Related to TPRs

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