One of several ways in which we teach vocabulary is by using graphic organisers, providing students with a visual and organisational tool which helps them make connections between new words and those already available in their repertoire. Paper foldables are an example of this, especially when they are simple, not time-consuming and used to focus on the learning process in which, ideally, students also take decisions to make the new language items relevant to their current needs.
The three examples below were carried out by students in their early teens with an elementary (A2/A2+) level of English. In all of them, the foldables are used to organise both prior vocabulary knowledge and the new words, and then for communicative purposes through speaking or writing and for future reference. Indeed, the students are encouraged to include words they are already familiar with and those which are new to them, and to establish connections between them. This is a highly learner-centred process and might be one of the reasons why they find it both interesting and motivating.
1. The city.
Use this street diorama as the basis for a descriptive writing activity, or to discuss similarities and differences between them orally and come up with a final whole-class ideal city.
2. A clothes dictionary.
First used to check the words they already know and to write them down, in this dictionary the students make a selection of new words related to clothing that they would like to learn (including definitions, simple pictures or even translations inside where needed) and then share their reasons in their teams and with the whole class, use them to describe what different people are wearing in several pictures, or even work together and design a unique and innovative item of clothing and present it to the rest of the class.
3. The house.
I read about this here a few years ago, although I recommend using A3 size paper for this one. How could we make this house more eco-friendly? What would your ideal house look like? Shall we check an online estate agency in English and, with the bugdet you’ve been allocated, explain why you would buy one of the houses on sale?