The Importance of Recycling Vocabulary

Little Lambs

Teaching vocabulary can be a challenge for new teachers. Most are quick to assume that once a new word has been taught, it has also been learned and will be remembered.

Most new teachers don’t realize vocabulary needs to be continuously recycled. Students will likely forget vocabulary if they don’t encounter these words on a regular basis.

Here are three useful strategies for recycling vocabulary:

1. Make a vocabulary board for your classroom. Post new vocabulary on the board each week. Make sure you constantly recycle old vocabulary in with new vocabulary.
2. Spend a few minutes of each class reviewing new vocabulary. Encourage your students to make new sentences or ask them to try and remember a sentence from a previous class.
3. Make vocabulary cards for each word. I like to use 7 x 12 cm cards. Write the new word on the front of the card. Ask your students to write or draw something on the back of the card to help them remember. I carry my pack of vocabulary cards for Chinese class in my purse. I review them when I have spare time.

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Post Author: Carrie Kellenberger

I'm a chronically ill Canadian who has been living in Asia since 2003. I moved from China to Taiwan in 2006. I'm an experienced businesswoman and have worked in many leadership positions in Asia. In addition to my own work, I've been writing professionally about Asia, travel and health advocacy since 2007, providing regular content to publishing companies and travel publications in Asia and North America. I started writing about my health journey in 2009 after being diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis. In 2014, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS, which came with other massive health issues. These diagnoses were the start of my journey as a health advocate and patient leader. Since then, My Several Worlds has been recognized worldwide as a top site for AS, fibromyalgia, and chronic illness by WEGO Health and Healthline.

6 thoughts on “The Importance of Recycling Vocabulary

    Mark Forman

    (November 19, 2007 - 12:27 pm)

    Awesome picture-totally adorable. I’m very happy that my son has started making effort to use 100% English with me. Guess all of those years of encouraging and speaking mainly English with him finally paying off. 🙂


    (November 20, 2007 - 1:32 pm)

    I completely agree. With my advanced class I use the text as an outline. Most of the material is a basis for substitutions. Using new sentence patterns the students have to “recycle” old words (nouns, verbs and adjective). It makes the old material more relevant and I think they retain more.

    broad53 » The Importance of Recycling Vocabulary

    (November 21, 2007 - 9:08 am)

    […] all the details here […]


    (March 25, 2008 - 9:49 am)

    Recycling vocabulary is the corner stone of enhancing and promoting the teaching and learning of a language. It reinforces and empowers the listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. Thus; the communicative competence(interpersonal,interpretive or presentational) scope increases and becomes more and more consistent and concise.

    Mrs Laughingpants

    (July 31, 2009 - 5:20 pm)

    Teachers can always find fun ways to teach students new vocabulary words. Before reading it is always good to have the vocabulary words on the board you’re focusing on. Choose books that students are interested in reading. This will encourage them to learn the new words quickly. A fun way to get their attention especially young kids, is to choose a few words out of the book, and when you read that word they need to raise their hands. You can use this technique to build their memory skills. Teaching brings a lot of creativity into play. There is always different ways to get students to learn in a fun way.


      (August 20, 2009 - 5:48 am)

      Mrs. Laughingpants,

      Great idea. Thanks very much for stopping by and commenting!

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