Word association worksheets
Here are some easy word association worksheets that are suitable for most levels of learners. The activities are designed to be completed firstly by students individually then as pair work.
The sheets are all about word association, students must think of words related to each other. If we take the word fish, for example, related words include water (fish live in it), food (most people eat them), and sharks (they eat fish).
The fun and interesting thing about word association is that most people associate certain things differently. For one person football is exciting, yet for another, it may be dull and boring. In these activities, you will find that students will sometimes write some hilarious associations that others would never think of. It makes for good fun in the classroom.
How to use the word association worksheets
Start out by explaining what word association is. A good way to do this is to draw a word association chain on the board where each word relates to the previous word. For example, you could write the words – fish – water – swim – summer – hot – fan – wind etc. Get your students to continue the chain for a minute or 2 and you see that the whole class grasps the idea.
Another way to introduce the concept is to draw a word cloud.Just write one word and get students to think of as many words related to it as they can.
Next, give each student one of the worksheets and set them 5 to 10 minutes to complete their word associations. Note that the sheets are designed for them to write 1 associated word only but there is space for 2 or 3 words if you want to make the activity last a bit longer.
Once time is up, organise the class into pairs. It is best that they sit opposite or in a way they can’t see each other’s responses. Now they must ask each other what they associated and wrote with each word or picture and write their partner’s responses on their worksheets.
Finally, they should count up how many answers they had that were the same to see how much they think alike.
Alternate way to use the word association worksheets
Another way to use these handouts is to make it a kind of game. Firstly they complete the worksheets individually as usual. Next, instead of asking a partner what they associate with the words/pictures, they write what they think their partner would write. Once completed they compare and see how many responses they guessed correctly.
You can even change the partner to be the teacher. This way the whole class has to guess what the teacher associates with the pictures/words. Finally, you can award a prize to whoever got the most correct answers.
Related word association activities
If you enjoyed these worksheets, there are a few other activities that involve word association on ESL Vault.
There are the things that go together cards where students match pictures of words that belong together. The Family Feud for the classroom game also involves word association as does the Taboo ESL game.