A word wall is a very basic tool - the idea is simply to post vocabulary words on the wall which will remain there for as long as you want. There are many different types of word walls in the world language classroom:
- ones which have all of the semester words up there already and are referred to when new words are introduced
- ones which have words for a particular unit and are then taken down after the unit has been completed
- ones to which new words are constantly added and serve as a running, cumulative list for students
Here is my Latin 1 word wall from last year just after a few months of instruction - note that I was limiting vocabulary.
- A word wall, however, does not work unless it is reviewed constantly. Reviewing the words on the word wall serves as a great warmup activity. I point my laser pointer at the word wall and can ask a variety of questions, e.g., quid tristis significat Anglice? quid vocabulum significat Latine gives to him?
- As a result of the word wall, students know exactly which specific words I want them to acquire. Just because I use a particular word in a story does not mean that I want them to acquire it at that particular moment (as it may be a word which I am previewing for later acquisition or it may just be an "icing" word). If students see the word on the wall later, then they know that it is a target word.
- The wall serves as a reference for students when using the language, especially in a timed write. If students cannot think of something to add to their story, they can glance at the wall and use a word for inspiration.