Additional Vocabulary

For each thematic group of vocabulary and unit, there are always a few words I use in the context of comprehensible input which I don’t introduce as a flashcard (target vocabulary for that unit). Here’s how I handle those additional words:


I write a list of the additional words at the start of the unit on the whiteboard, then give the English meanings (or sometimes Latin synonyms/antonyms) beside the words. During the class, I will point at the words as needed to help the students follow. This is a great exercise when just beginning a unit and a lot of new words have been introduced at once, either through flashcards or a MovieTalk, PictureTalk, or dictatio.

Mime & Gestures

Whenever possible, I act out the meanings of the additional words in context. For instance, I shiver when saying or repeating the additional word “frigidus.” I squat down when saying “parvus” and stand on tiptoes when saying “magnus.” For “sed” I point to my derriere… not a direct translation, but close enough to get the students to catch the meaning. I try to repeat the same mimes and gestures each time the word is used until I get a good strong comprehension from all of the students.

Pause & Repeat

Sometimes, I just pause and repeat the additional word, then repeat it in the context of the sentence. Assuming I’ve really written or spoken comprehensibly, just a pause can give the students a chance to process the language. A little over half of the time, a student will shout out the meaning.


(This is part one of my re-thinking on how best to introduce vocabulary in a more comprehensible way, even with thematic units. If these methods work with these non-targeted words, why wouldn’t they also work with the target vocabulary…)

I used to think I had to flashcard and quiz every word for students to really internalize it, remember it, and use it. As it turns out, that is false. My students constantly use, recognize, and remember these additional words as often, if not more often, than the words I made into flashcards and quiz them on. Repetition, within a comprehensible format, does seem to work for building long-lasting language knowledge.

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