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Reading Lesson Idea: Personal Vocabulary Notebook


Keeping a special notebook of new words can increase vocabulary, assist memorization, and encourage good study and organization skills.

Adapted from a lesson by Jane Keskimaki.

  • A lined, blank notebook.
  • A dictionary.
  • Have your student bring the notebook to each session. During the week, your student should note any unfamiliar words encountered in homework, reading the newspaper, heard on television, etc. Ask your student to write each new word at the top of a new page in the notebook, along with the sentence or context in which it was encountered. Three to five new words per week is a good number to aim for.
  • For each word in turn:
    • Ask your student to make a guess about the word's meaning, based on its context and structure (that is, identify suffixes, prefixes, and roots). Sound out the word together if pronunciation is unknown, breaking up long words into syllables if necessary.
    • Next, the student looks the word up in a dictionary. Ask him or her to read the word and definition aloud, then copy the definition into the notebook.
    • Review the original context of the word. Test understanding by asking your student to rephrase the sentence without using the new word.
    • Student and tutor each produce an oral sentence using the word. The student writes at least one sentence using the word, which you may assign as homework.
  • Occasionally use the word collection to do some Vocabulary Games.
  • Try the Word Chart Activity in Teaching Adults, page 68, or any of the Activities on pp. 85-94.
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