15 Vocabulary Exercises to Refine Your Linguistic Abilities | Iris Reading
Vocabulary Exercises to Refine Your Linguistic Abilities

15 Vocabulary Exercises to Refine Your Linguistic Abilities

Vocabulary Exercises to Refine Your Linguistic Abilities

Many factors contribute to your linguistic abilities, particularly your mastery of words. 

Learning vocabulary is essential, both for comprehending speech and text. A well-rounded word bank helps you communicate more clearly and express yourself better. 

If you’re struggling with expressing yourself or understanding speech or text, various vocabulary exercises can help. 

Vocabulary exercises are activities you can engage in that are focused on helping you understand and memorize words better. 

These exercises help you learn new words and appreciate usage within context, pronunciation, and their meaning. 

The important factor in vocabulary exercises is to engage various senses (auditory, visual, and speech) and different types of memories.

Doing this ensures the words stay with you forever and that you can actively remember the word(s) when needed. 

In this article, we provide various vocabulary activities that can help you refine your linguistic abilities. 

Vocabulary exercises for beginners

Vocabulary exercises vary in complexity. Sticking with activities designed for your level ensures you achieve recognizable progress with each session and enjoy the benefits of an improved vocabulary

Here are some exercises to consider:

1. Countries, capitals, and nationality

In this very simple activity, you can provide a list of countries and leave the students to add the capital of that country. You can also inverse it by writing a city and asking the candidate to provide the nation the city is in. 

Another variant is providing a country and asking the person to enter the nationality, e.g., Italy (Italian), Germany (German), Ecuador (Ecuadorian), etc. 

2. Adjectives opposite

For this exercise, provide each student with a list of adjectives and ask them to fill in the opposite. 

Examples include dry (wet), fast (slow), small (big), heavy (light), happy (sad), long (short), and more. Keep it to simple words to maintain the beginner vibe. 

3. Odd word

Give the students a group of words, typically four (can be more), and ask them to pick the odd word out. 

For example, “toothbrush” will be the odd one out of this group: television, microwave, radio, and toothbrush. 

Similarly, “fat” is the odd word from this list: small, large, fat, and big. 

4. Possessive adjective matching

This activity operates similarly to cross-matching for kids. You provide a list of word(s) on the left and ask the student to match these words to the correct phrase to make it a complete sentence on the right. 

The sentence must make sense and be contextual to the words on the left. 

Word(s) Phrase
my boss (1) hair is very long (2)
My mum’s (2) is in Gossip Avenue (4)
Harry’s parents (3) is intimidating (1)
Our house (4) are from Jersey (3)

5. Verb collocation

In this activity, you match a verb to the word or phrase on the left. For example:

Verb Noun or phrase
Play (1)                  a  banana (3)
Buy (2) Football (1)
Eat (3) movie on Netflix (4)
Watch (4) a new house (2)

6. Routine verbs arrangement

Provide a group of verbs and ask the class to arrange the actions in the order they happen. 

For example, consider this group: “close from work,” “sleep,” “eat dinner,” and “brush teeth.” Another example is: “drive to the supermarket,” “write a grocery list,” “pick items from the shelves,” and “pay for the items.”

There’s a clear order in each group. It’s left for the student to figure it out. 

7. Job definition

Provide definitions for up to ten jobs and the potential title of those jobs as options. The student must then say or fill in the job title that fits each definition. 

You can also prepare another variant of this exercise with multiple choices. 

For example, “This person cooks in a restaurant,” followed by various choices like waiter, chef, and kitchen manager.

Vocabulary exercises for adults

The English vocabulary exercises listed in the section above can work for adults new to the language. 

That said, adults with significant experience will benefit more from activities and games that are more advanced, especially if they’re preparing for English tests. 

You should focus on the following: 

8. Confusing and similar words

“Told, Spoke, and Said” have similar meanings but won’t work well in the same sentences. This exercise is great for emphasizing contexts. 

For example, only “told” would work for this sentence: Sofie TOLD me this morning that her dog was sick. 

In the activity, you’ll have a blank space where the word “Told” is and provide “Told, Spoke, and Said” as options for the student. 

Other similar or confusing words are borrow/lend, however/despite, holiday/trip/travel/vacation, beach/shore/coast, etc. 

9. Noun or verb

This exercise is also great for appreciating context. Fly can serve as a verb or a noun. The same applies to try: “Try”, the action word for putting effort, and “try” is a noun for a “goal” in rugby.

This activity asks students to fill in the gaps. You’ll provide them with 10 to 12 sentences with missing words. You’ll also provide 10-12 options for the students to plug into the blank spaces. 

The missing words must be those that can qualify as a noun or verb depending on the context of the sentence, like Drive (drive a car and recruitment drive). 

10. Scattergories

This activity is a play on categories. For this task, provide the class with five categories (animals, food, country, verbs, jobs, etc.). You’ll then choose a letter and ask your students to come up with words starting with the chosen letter for each category. 

Although you can ask the students to write it down, saying it out loud helps the brain memorize better. It can also help the student with their pronunciation, which you can correct if they are wrong. 

11. Boggle

Boggle is an interesting vocabulary game. Give the students a set of letters, preferably 5-6, and ask them to write many words from the letters within a specified period. 

Assign scores for two-letter words, three-letter words, and so on. That way, the students will focus on generating lengthier words. Review the meaning and pronunciation for every term the student writes.

12. New word reinforcement activities

This activity is not standalone but a set of exercises that helps the student commit new words to memory. On average, a learner must be exposed to a word seven times before it sticks. 

It’s, therefore, critical to add activities like Slap the Board, Charades, and Pictionary to help students practice new words. 

You may also like: How Do You Train Your Memory Like a Memory Champion?

Vocabulary exercises for kids

When exposing kids to new vocabulary, it’s essential to make it fun. These are some fun vocabulary activities for kids that you can try.

13. Synonym or theme pockets

Synonym or theme pocket is a creative way for kids to collect related words or ideas in a pouch or envelope they design or create. This activity helps the kids expand their vocabulary, especially for common words they use, like happy, hungry, sad, and good. 

You can also make the activity centered on a particular theme, such as past presidents of the United States, desserts, etc. 

14. Comic strip vocabulary

This activity involves the kids’ creative side and their understanding of when and when not to use a word. 

Prepare a sheet with the following sections:

  • Word of the day
  • What it means in your words
  • Draw a picture of what it means
  • Write a sentence with the word
  • Write the opposite of the word
  • Draw a picture to represent the opposite word

Share the sheet with the kids after introducing and explaining the word to the class. 

15. Vocabulary spinners

For this exercise, prepare up to 50 words in a bag. Students will take turns and pick one word from the bag. 

After picking a word, they’ll proceed to the wheel to spin. They’ll then perform the action stated where the wheel landed. 

You can also use dice for this exercise, with each number representing one type of action. 

A potential list of actions includes:

  • Repeat three times
  • Act it out
  • Define it
  • Draw it
  • Provide the opposite
  • Use it in a sentence

Takeaway: Employ easy vocabulary exercises to refine your linguistic abilities

A broad vocabulary is essential to success, whether at work or school. Vocabulary exercises can help you gain mastery of new words that will help you communicate and comprehend text and speech from others better. 

This will help you perform better academically or professionally. The activities above are a good starting point to expose you or your students to new words. 

A sound memory is vital for developing a good vocabulary. Have you had to spend minutes racking your brain trying to remember a word? Take our Maximizing Memory Course. 

It will introduce you to practical steps that’ll help you remember things you’ve read and learned.

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