Lesson:Vocabulary envelopes

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Revision as of 23:56, 29 October 2012 by Jameson2000ad (talk | contribs) (Mad libs)

A class vocabulary envelope is a student-centred and cooperative system of recording and reviewing vocabulary and has numerous applications.


  • At the end of each class, the teacher asks students to choose up to eight lexical items from the lesson that they would like to remember.
  • Alone or in pairs, the students then create vocabulary tabs on small sqaures of paper which should include any important specifics from the list above. Here is an example:
A vocabulary tab
  • The teacher monitors the creation of the tabs, checking the accuracy and helping.
  • Once finished, all the tabs are put into a class envelope which accumulates up to eight tabs each lesson.
  • During subsequent classes, vocabulary games can be played with the tabs to review them. Games such as guess the word, mnemonics, charades and pictionary all work well.
  • During a course, the students may want to revise the contents of the envelope, throwing away any that have been memorized and clarifying any that are unclear.

Vocabulary envelope games

There are a few games which rely on the availabiity of a set of vocabulary tabs, and these are as follows:

Logic pelmanism


  • Pairs or small groups are formed.
  • Tabs are arranged face-down in grids of 4X4 or more in front of the pairs/groups.
  • On taking a turn, a player turns over two tabs; in order to win them, s/he has to provide a true sentence which connects the two lexical items. For example, on turning over "slippery" and "martial arts", a student would need to form a sentence such as "when practising martial arts, it is best not to be near something slippery like a banana skin".
Note: instructions must be checked to avoid the production of definitions like "slippery is the opposite of sticky", independent examples such as "karate is a martial art" and meaningless sentences such as "karate is a slippery martial art".
  • The game continues and the winner is the player who holds the most pairs of tabs at the end.

Describe the word: time trial

This game is similar to guess the word as described on the vocabulary games page.


  • Small teams (or pairs) are formed and each are given a set number of vocabulary tabs, which they place in a pile face-down in front of them.
  • The teacher announces a short time-limit and on the word "go", the students take it in turns to pick up a tab and describe the word for their partner(s) to guess.
  • Once a member of the team correctly guesses the word, the team win the tab and the next player takes one and descibes the word.
  • If none of the team can guess the word, the player puts the tab at the bottom of the pile and takes another from the top.
  • When the time is up, the teams count up how many tabs they correctly guessed to find out which team has won.


Time trials can also be played in the 10 words only format, as detailed on the vocabulary games page.

Mad lib game

This activity is similar to a PMI discussion, and is especially useful for activating advanced/lesser-used conjunctions such as "nevertheless", "that said", "in spite of" etc.


  • Each group of three students will need at least nine vocabulary tabs with different conjunctions on them.


  • Groups of three are formed and each group is given nine vocabulary tabs.
  • Several topics are minmapped on the board and one is chosen.
  • Th groups have a 3-5 minute discussion on the topic. During their discussions, they should

See also