Friday, October 26, 2007

Defining Words for ESL Students

A good English-only dictionary is essential for intermediate to advanced ESL students. I highly recommend Longman Advanced American Dictionaryto all my students.

However, during my ESL conversation lessons, it's not always convenient for my student or me to look up a word he or she doesn't know. Also, dictionaries don't always give the feeling or "flavor" of the word. While the definition may be correct and, sort of, work, it may not be the absolute best word. This is where a native-English speaking teacher can help to communicate the "feeling" of the word.

The other day, one of my students was using the word "territory" to describe a district or area of a large nearby city. I was able to communicate primarily through intonation and body language how "territory" is usually used by native speakers for a lot bigger area than the one he was talking about.

Although not entirely universal, body language and intonation can be very helpful in teaching vocabulary definitions.


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