I glanced at the page for number vocabulary. Numbers were listed in order, and there were some blank lines. I dismissed it entirely and turned the page. My students know how to count, I thought, so what’s the point of a lesson on number vocabulary? Was there really a point to having them listen to the audio of someone reading the numbers and then having a ten-question listening exercise where they wrote the numbers they heard? As it turns out, many of the other teachers at that school felt the same way, and we all gave number vocabulary the short shrift. Even students agreed and happily turned that page. What a mistake!
We forget that number vocabulary is not just about the numbers themselves.
Students quickly learn to count to twenty, and then we tend to think the job is done. A number is a number, after all, and if they can count, they’re good to go, right? If only English were that simple! How we say numbers when we are telling time, talking about money, exchanging phone numbers, giving an address, or telling a date is not all the same. Now throw ordinals into that mix, and it’s an even bigger issue to deal with.
Here are two things you can do.
Try a simple pronunciation check of number vocabulary.
Try writing some numbers on the board and asking students to read them to you. You can use these:
Next, tell them that they should say,
- thirty-one oh nine (the number part of a street address)
- four oh five, seven six two, sixty-eight fifty-one (one way to say a phone number)
- a quarter after three (the time)
- fifty-four dollars and nine cents (the price of something)
Try saying the phone number like four-hundred five, seven-hundred sixty-two, six-thousand eight-hundred fifty-one. No one listening would even recognize it as a phone number!
Practice numbers in a variety of ways.
Because every textbook ever provided for me to teach from rarely had more than ten lines for one or maybe two number vocabulary exercises, I looked for more. I found LOTS, but it was all aimed at children. Then I started making my own, used my students as guinea pigs to get their feedback, and tweaked and added to the resources. Since then, I’ve also developed BOOM decks based on those printable resources. If you don’t have time to create your own resources, rest assured that I’ve got you covered. ^_^
Read more about teaching adult ESL!
- Stop Pre-Teaching Vocabulary All the Time!
- Two Engaging Multi-Level Vocabulary Games for Adult ESL
- Learning New Vocabulary: 3 Reasons Adult ESL Students Struggle
Before I point you to some ready-to-print resources and ready-to-use digital resources, I want to share a free sample with you.
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Pre-Made Resources for Number Vocabulary
Whether you are looking for low-prep printable resources or self-checking digital BOOM cards, you’ll love what I have made for you. Below you’ll find a few of the resources I have available.