Young Learner (8-11) vocabulary plus


Primary school age young learners can vary from near beginners to intermediate or above. Below is an outline vocabulary checklist for lower level young learners.

Young learners with very little English will often start their learning of English with a ‘syllabus’ similar to the one below. You can use this as a kind of checklist to see what your student can and can’t do.

  • the alphabet
  • numbers to 10 or 20
  • basic colours (red, blue, white, orange, black etc)
  • common animals (cat, dog, horse, bird etc)
  • common drinks (water, milk, juice, cola, tea etc)
  • common food e.g. fruit, vegetables, ice cream, pizza etc
  • rooms of the house
  • family members (mother, father, brother, sister, grandparents)
  •  sports
  • clothes (shoes, coat, socks, jumper etc)
  • days of the week
  • telling the time
  • very comon adjectives e.g. happy, sad, hot, cold etc
  • common prepositions (in, on, under, next to etc)
  • core verbs (be, have, eat, like, go etc)
  • very simple questions eg are you, do(es), what, where, when
  • ‘classroom English’ e.g. ‘I don’t understand’

At a slightly higher level, young learners can go on to learn:

  • hobbies
  • the weather
  • furniture
  • shopping
  • health
  • travel and transport
  • jobs
  • school subjects
  • more adjectives and prepositions
  • referring to the future
  • actions
  • routines
  • feelings
  • more verbs and more question types
  • polite requests e.g. Can I have some juice please?
  • more ‘classroom English’

Flashcards/pictures can be used for prompts and revision. Photographs (digital) from your excursions and activities can be a great way to reinforce and use vocabulary.

Games with movement e.g. variations on ‘Simon says …’ integrate fun and learning and make use of youthful energy!

Simple Writing

Oral practice can lead on to simple, short writing exercises. As the course progresses you can make the writing more involved.

A daily diary or scrapbook is one way to measure and show progress. This would be written with the teacher prompting, and can relate to the experiences the young learner has had or is planning to have on their course.


Try to make correction fun and not too serious. You will need to review regularly and expect learning to take time. Most of all be encouraging so that learning English can be associated with positive feelings.

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