There are different approaches to building the vocabulary of English as a Second Language or ESL students. Because even though English is an International language, it is a complex language to teach. One letter alone can have 2 or 3 ways of being pronounced and one word can be spelled in various ways too depending on the English spelling recognized by the country you may be in. There are also various ways of pronouncing words in English. For these teaching approaches to be effective, these should be student-centered wherein the student’s progress is the main focus for all the lessons presented and teaching methods used.
If you are an ESL teacher, tutor or instructor, you may follow these simple ways to help your student start building his vocabulary words:

Observe if your student has any learning problems

It is not new anymore to find students with ADD/ADHD (Attention-Deficit Disorder with or without hyperactivity) and other learning disabilities such as dyslexia or dysgraphia. If symptoms of learning disabilities are evident in your student’s behavior, it is best to inform his parents about it so they can have him looked at by an expert. As a teacher, you need to be armed with this knowledge of the signs and symptoms of learning disorders so you may be able to detect them. It will not do you and your student any good to continue with the lessons if your students’ condition is hindering his ability to understand and grasp the lesson much less the meaning and spelling of the English word. It will just drag the learning process and it’s your student who loses at the end.

Know the background of your student

Getting to know is the very first lesson to cover in any teacher-student interaction. Knowing the background of your student like from where he’s from, what school he went into, his interests in his subjects or outside school, some family background and his future plans or goals are will help you as a teacher to measure your students level of knowledge in the English language. How well he explains himself in English words, will give a clear idea of how much words he knows and understands. It will also provide a hint to you, as a teacher about how oriented your student is to the English language, the American culture or the culture of other English speaking nations.

Give a Pop Quiz

Give an instant quiz on your first or second day of classes without announcing it beforehand. Pop quizzes are great methods of gauging what English words your student already knows. From this, you will be able to see if you need to start from ABC or proceed to higher levels of the lessons such as sentence and paragraph construction for a given word.

As an ESL teacher keep in mind that you need to focus on the abilities, orientation and skills of your student in order to help him build his master English word list.