Help please: Frayer models

What better place to think through a lesson idea than on my blog?! Hopefully all you great teachers can offer a few ideas…

I recently came across the idea of Frayer models while browsing Teacher’s Toolkit. I found other explanations and examples of their use on this blog, and concise definition here. To be honest I’d never heard of them, but they look very useful. It’s a ‘graphic organiser’ for new vocabulary, normally split into 4 sections. Students write a definition of a word, draw the word, then give examples and non-examples of the use of the word. Most models online look like this:

I’ve decided to give this a go next term with my younger students (aged 10) and perhaps some teen classes. I’m going to make an A4 vocabulary booklet with two models on each page, maybe 20 words in total.

My initial thoughts on this are:

  • For recording vocabulary in an ESOL/EFL context I think the model needs to be expanded a bit. It needs to cover more aspects of meaning, form, pronunciation and collocation.  These items could be headings for each box, but I like the idea of giving non-examples of a word too.
  • A lot of blogs/sites stress that the definition of the word must be student-friendly, and is likely to be given by the teacher.
  • This could be a really good way to assess students understanding of different vocabulary, providing the new words they record aren’t always simple, concrete nouns. The model needs to be exploited well.
  • I feel like this model would be great for CLIL-based lessons. The other day we were learning about health and nutrition – the model would have been great for explaining the food groups (carbohydrates, protein, etc)

Here’s what I’m thinking the model could look like with a bit of expansion:

frayer models

I may have to simplify the headings a bit, but I was thinking of using these:

Describe the word (i.e. give a definition of it)

Draw it (Characteristics)

Examples of the word 

Not examples of the word

Use the word in a sentence

Words connected to my word – this is where collocations can be included. Depending on the word, it could also include synonyms, antonyms, hypernyms, hyponyms, etc. It expands on the ‘examples of the word’ section a bit.

Say... this may be a good opportunity to introduce some of the phonemes of English.

Anyway, there are my thoughts – can you help me develop this:

Do you already use Frayer models in the EFL classroom?

Do you think they are useful? 

Do you stick with the original headings or have you adapted them? Have you added anything of your own?

What do you think of the things I’ve added? Would you change them?

Can you think of any problems students might have with using these models?

Cheers for your help! I look forward to any responses!

Note: Frayer models were originally devised by Dorothy Frayer. There’s a citation on one of the sites I linked to above.

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