Vocabulary and Culture Development
By Xiaolan Rong
Vocabulary and Culture Development
Grade: College Level
Students’ Age: 19-21
Class Setting:English as a ForeignLanguage (EFL)
Teaching Hour:6hours (Three 2-hour sessions)
This lesson demonstrates a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) approach to developing English vocabulary and English Culture before and during a movie watching. Students are able to be engaged in teaching contents in various ways.
This example uses a Hollywood movie Forrest Gump as teaching content and provides teachers and students with methods and activities applied in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) class.
The targeted students of the lesson are the ones at college level in China. For example, in China, college students are generally intermediate English learners.They have learned English grammar systematically. But due to the traditional Chinese teaching methods over-emphasizing grammar study, students’ speaking and listening ability is not as good as reading and writing. Besides, for college students without pressure from high-staked exams, interest in English study is ebbing away.
In the lesson, UDL principles are applied by
Providing flexible methods of presentation for the vocabulary and culture background.
Providingvariousways for understanding the vocabulary and culture.
Providing students various opportunities to express their opinions.
The students will be able to
Identify vocabulary and provide biographic information orally using more natural English language.
Build knowledge about American history from the 1950’s to the 1970’s.
Developinglanguage skills in ESL students who have not been exposed to natural English.
Developingunderstanding of colloquial English vocabulary that is rarely used in mandate textbooks.
Motivate students’ interest in English learning.
- Traditional Approach
Chinese teachers traditionallyused the following methods in vocabulary and culture instruction:
- Prior to reading a passage, teachers define new words and expressions.
- Have students create sentences using vocabulary from a reading passage.
- Have students read passages on related culture.
- Give students quizzes composed of multiple choices and short essay questions on vocabulary and culture.
- Concept Map (UDL Approach)
Forrest Gump(Video )
Use PPT Slide to present important vocabulary
Provide students with paper-based word list on which they are able to highlight the words new to them and take notes down on the words in time.
Screen video clips to present situational information on vocabulary.
(a)Biography Speech: Tell a story about Forrest Gump.
(b)Biography Writing: Write a story about Forrest Gump.
Activate prior knowledge: Share what they know about the American history from the 1950's to the 1970's.
Provide students with related websites and have them find out the information they are interested in.
Screen related video clips to present comprehensive information on the history events.
Team work: Make s role play with the background of a related history event.
(b)Telling a story
Tell a story about a related history event in English.
Principles of Universal Design applied in this lesson:
Simple and Intuitive
Tolerance for error
Flexibility in use
John De Szendeffy (2005). A Practical Guide to Using Computers in Language Teaching, University of Michigan Press
Pre-Reading: Building Background. Retrieved June 5, 2008, from Teaching Every Student Web site:
Rose, D. & Meyer, A. (2002). Teaching every student in the digital age: Universal Design for Learning. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Retrieved June 5, 2008,from
Sandra, F. & Charles, B. (2004). New Perspectives on CALL for Second Language Classrooms, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.
Understanding Plot and Vocabulary (Grades 9 and 10) Lesson 4. Retrieved June 5, 2008, from Teaching Every Student Web site:
Vocabulary Development. Retrieved June 5, 2008, from Teaching Every Student Web site: