Vocabulary Squares is a class activity which facilitates both self-study and dictionary skills. These days, my students seem to rely more and more on their electronic dictionaries or phone apps for translations and don’t develop their English- English dictionary skills. They also tend to not realize the benefits of flashcards for vocabulary self-study. Regular repetition of exposure to new words is necessary to commit them to working memory.
The reality is, regular repetition of exposure to new words is necessary to recognize them, much less commit them to working memory. Fortunately, for us, Vocabulary Square is an easy activity to set up. One lesson in advance, let students know they need to bring index cards with them. They will need one card per word, so you should already know how many words you want them to practice.
Begin by completing a few examples together, “thinking” out loud to show students to restate the definitions in their own words rather than mindlessly copying them. A PowerPoint of a completed index card will also help students more easily understand the task. You could also draw an example on the whiteboard. Don’t forget to have some extra index cards or paper cut into eighths for those students who forget to bring their own.
Have students divide their index into four corners:
1. Write the meaning in their own words.
2. Write at least one synonym and one antonym.
3. Write an example sentence.
4. Draw an image representing the term.
Remind students to review the flashcards at least once a day.