Words that go together

This lesson started out as an idea for a 15 minute job interview micro-teach. However the plan below can run for about an hour. Therefore, it is anticipated that only Activities 1 and 2 will be completed in the 15 min micro-teach. Brief: to teach a vocabulary session. Students not known to teacher. If the vocab below is already known to Ss, then the aim would be to improve pronunciation and/or spelling of these words. The category of words being studied is compound nouns, and this is contextualised by concentrating on words used in college.


  • Understand the term ‘compound nouns’
  • Practice using compound nouns you know
  • Learn some new compound nouns
  • Improve your pronunciation and spelling, if time


  • Underlined text denotes assessment opportunities
  • [Square bracketed] text denotes differentiation strategies
  • Differentiation that is also an assessment opportunity or vice versa is both [bracketed and underlined].


T writes boards his name and Ss write names on EGART sticks. [Point out misuse of capital letters. Be aware of anyone who has difficulty writing their own name]. Given time constraints, this may have to suffice by way of introduction. Otherwise, T and students intro themselves using I’m (+ name, + from …, + a …)

Teaching and learning activities

Throughout the three activities, Ss should not write unless specifically asked to. Instead they should actively engage with a partner, taking turns saying target vocabulary items. [This needs close monitoring to ensure all are participating.] Ss should discuss difficult items rather than using a dictionary. Where possible, pictures (or actual items present in the classroom) should illustrate meaning.

Activity 1 (Intro) should be used to assess how much Ss already know in order to judge what to cover and how quickly. Matters not grasped in Activity 1 may become clearer in Activity 2 so don’t labour Activity 1. Activity 1 should raise awareness of compounds inductively.
T displays nonsense  words. (Ss should not yet see the pictures.) Ss consider the nonsense words with some prompting from T (Where’s the course basin? Does anyone have handrinks? Allow Ss to talk among themselves briefly before saying more in open class. Ss should reach the conclusion that something’s wrong with these words. T guides them subtly towards this if necessary. T elicits from Ss (using EGART sticks) English terms for the numbered pictures underlining each element on the the board after each plausible answer. [Give emerging E2’s clues rather than waiting too long for responses. Consider alternating EGART stick selection with allowing more confident Ss to volunteer–this will also keep things moving.] If Ss give a plausible ‘wrong’ answer causing a word to be used twice, T underlines it twice. If there are any words left over (and corresponding words underlined twice), T asks Ss to revise their ideas in order to use all words once. T points out that compound nouns are either spaced, joined, or hyphenated, and even native speakers need to check the dictionary to know which. Ss match the words spaced, joined, hyphenated with doorway, fire exit, mother-in-law .

Activity 2 (small groups/pairs), Ss pair single words from columns to provide compound nouns. (Dictionary use not allowed.) If Ss can find the object in the classroom they write what it’s called on a post it and stick the post it on the item thereby ‘claiming’ it. (No item can be claimed twice.) After the time is up (4mins?) T counts up who claimed what and declares a winning team. T explains what’s wrong with any unacceptable choices. [Ss who finish the task early should test each other on the spellings, while less advanced Ss receive more support from T.](Where more time available all Ss to use up most/all of the available compounds.) T points out that no spelling change occurs. T asks Ss which is correct: back’spack or backpack. By this point the 15 min micro teach would have ended.

There will, in all likelihood, be no time for Activity 3 in the micro-teach. However it might come in handy in the event of unforeseen issues arising.

Activity 3 Ss arrange all their cards in a complete circle so that a well-established compound is formed across each join. In feedback, T points out (or asks Ss to identify) where the stress falls. This should lead to the observation that in most compounds the first syllable is stressed.



Activity 1 materials

hand drinks
exit mate
address way
class machine
course basin
email representative



Activity 2 materials

When you get to 26, go to 1.         

1. book
2. capital
3. class
4. emergency
5. English
6. enrolment
7. exclamation
8. exit
9. fire
10. hand
11. notice
12. plug
13. data
14. head
15. hole 
16. home
17. key
18. learning 
19. lesson 
20. lunch 
21. note
22. back
23. work
24. Tower
25. light 
26. door




Activity 3 answers

phone number, workbook, lesson plan, timetable, website, staff room, question mark, student number, student card, pencil case, fire extinguisher



Complete word list

Words for warmer using photos Words for body using split/mixed columns Words for game
email address
course representative
drinks machine
fire exit
hand basin
capital letter
emergency exit
English class
enrolment form
exclamation mark
exit sign
fire alarm
hole punch
learning plan
lesson aims
lunch break
notice board
Tower Hamlets
plug socket
light switch
data projector
phone number
lesson plan
staff room
question mark
student number
student card
pencil case
fire extinguisher
spelling test





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