By Steve C

September 10, 2020

How To Teach New Words To ESL Students Quickly – The 2-1-0 Method

The 2-1-0 Method for teaching new vocabulary is in my experience the easiest and fastest way for students to learn and retain new vocabulary in ESL classes.

The Details:

  • The 2-1-0 method for teaching new vocabulary is an ESL technique that works best with young learners (4-12).
  • I always use 7 cards at a time.  In my experience 7 cards is about the maximum number or cards a class can learn in any given flashcard cycle.  If students are really young using 3 or 5 cards works just as well.
  • I highly recommend using an odd number of cards so that you can immediately start playing games afterwards.  Odd number mean that if your team is split into teams one team will have more cards.  Competition is always fun.
  • The only materials required are a set of teacher sized flashcards.
  • he 2-1-0 method for teaching new vocabulary should take between 1 – 3 minutes.  Once you finish you should immediately play a game that uses the newly acquired words like What’s Missing or Charades.

How to play:

  1. Start by choosing 7 vocabulary flashcards.
  2. Ask your class to repeat after you.
  3. Cycle through each of the flashcards slowly saying the word once.  Wait for the class to repeat and then say the word a second time.  Wait for the classes second repetition and then move to the next card in the deck. 
  4. Once you’ve taught each of the 7 cards with two class repetitions, go through the deck again.  This time go faster and only say each word once.
  5. Once you’ve completed two cycles of your teaching cards (saying each twice and then once), go through the deck a final time.  This time however do not say the word.  Simply hold up the card and wait for your students to say the word.  You’re class should have already learned the words by this point.
  6. If your class has trouble with any of the words start again from step 3.

This is a fun way to introduce new ESL vocabulary quickly. What starts out as a simple vocabulary card tool quickly turns into an ESL game that your whole ESL/EFL class will love.


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