Teaching Vocabulary

There are many studies that reinforce the key role of vocabulary size on reading and writing skills, especially on native speakers. Loafer in an analysis of the vocabulary of Israeli students, established that a good vocabulary size was important for reading comprehension and for fluency in speech. Golden claimed that “measures of vocabulary size -particularly the size of academic vocabulary- are important indicators of the ability of second language learners to achieve academic success”. Anderson and Forebode found out that there was a high correlation between a good performance in a vocabulary test and reading comprehension.

Different research studies have also concentrated on tracking the development of vocabulary knowledge f language learners from different perspectives. Within this trend, we can identify several main groups: those studies that have addressed vocabulary acquisition of young learners in their native language, and those that deal with foreign language development. Among vocabulary acquisition studies, some focus attention on the development of depth of vocabulary knowledge (Harmer, Carlisle, Maya Guajarati, Triggers, Baritones,).Some other studies deal with how receptive vocabulary evolves with time and proficiency (Armor, Averred, Garcia Hoc, Smith,), and finally, some there studies address the issue of receptive vocabulary size at specific moments of development (Dolce, Danna, Chemistry, Hall, Golden, Nation, Read, Warning, Kibbles,). The object of our research is teaching vocabulary on the topic environment. The aim of the paper is to analyses various techniques on teaching vocabulary on the topic environment taking into consideration three main levels (elementary, intermediate and advanced) of teaching English as a foreign language.Most of the examples were taken from different books taking into consideration elementary, intermediate and advanced levels of teaching.

Of course, the topic is quite extensive and one cannot say that all possible vocabulary teaching techniques are represented here equally, but the most prominent ones are given due attention in the present paper. Due to the restrictions of space some of the practical examples were not given for each of the levels but only for those they are mostly typical for. The essay consists of introduction, four parts, conclusion and bibliography.Part 1 deals with general considerations concerning what needs to be taught, receptive and productive vocabulary and the criteria for selecting vocabulary and vocabulary exercises. The questions of vocabulary items grouping and how many items to teach are viewed. Part 2 is devoted to the problems connected with presenting vocabulary. The learning.

In Part 3 practicing vocabulary techniques, namely visual aids, lexical and speaking exercises and games are analyses. Part 4 focuses on different approaches to testing vocabulary and vocabulary assessment.The main task of the essay is to show on various examples how all the listed vocabulary teaching techniques work, which ones are more preferable and in what cases most suitable. Part 1 . General Considerations for Teaching Vocabulary Psychologists, linguists, and language teachers have been interested in vocabulary learning strategies for a long time. Numerous studies have been conducted comparing the retention effects of different vocabulary presentation strategies. In fact, the vocabulary field has been especially productive in the last two decades.

Generally speaking, the chapter focuses on the area, of vocabulary learning strategies, the analysis of the vocabulary learning task, the in order to acquire the vocabulary off second language 1. 1. What needs to be taught When a person approaches a relatively challenging task, s/he adopts certain trainees to solve the problem. This problem-solving process is constrained by the learning context where the problem is being tackled. Language learning in general and vocabulary acquisition in particular are such problem-solving tasks at different levels of complexity.The strategies a learner uses and the effectiveness of these strategies very much depend on the learner him/herself (e. G.

, attitudes, motivation, prior knowledge), the learning task at hand (e. G. , type, complexity, difficulty, and generality), and the learning environment (e. G. , the learning culture, the richness of input and output opportunities). Vocabulary is not a syllabus, I. E.

, a list of words that teachers prepare for their learners to memorize and learn by heart. Memorizing may be good and useful as a temporary technique for tests, but not for learning a foreign language.Language student need to learn vocabulary of the target language in another way. If we are really to teach students what word mean and how they are used, we need to show them being used together in context. Words do not Just exist on their own; they live together and they depend upon each other. Therefore, caching vocabulary correctly is a very important element in language learning. Correct vocabulary instruction involves vocabulary selection, word knowledge and techniques.

One way to see the overall task of vocabulary learning is through the distinction between knowing a word and using a word.In other words, the purpose of vocabulary learning should include both remembering words and the ability to use them automatically in a wide range of language contexts when the need arises (McCarthy). In fact, evidence suggests that the knowledge aspect (both breadth and PPTP) requires more conscious and explicit learning mechanisms whereas the skill aspect involves mostly implicit learning and memory (Ellis). Vocabulary learning strategies, therefore, should include strategies for “using” as well as “knowing” a word. Another way to view vocabulary learning is to see it as a process of related sub- tasks.When learners first encounter a new word, they might guess its meaning and usage from available clues. Some learners might proceed to look it up in the dictionary.

Others might take down notes along the margins, between the lines, or on prepare vocabulary notebooks. Some learners will repeat the new word a number of to commit the word to memory. Some would even try to use the word actively. Each of these task stages demands anticompetitive Judgment, choice, and deployment of cognitive strategies for vocabulary learning. And each strategy a learner uses will determine too large extent how and how well a new word is learned..Paul Nation has shed light on the multi-faceted nature of the kinds of knowledge required in learning a word.

Form written What does the word look like? Word parts What word parts are recognizable in this word? Meaningful and meaning What meaning does this word form signal? Concepts and referents What is included in this concept? Associations What other words does this make us think of? Use grammatical function In what patterns does the word occur? Collocation’s words or types of words occur with this one? Constraints of use (register, frequency) Where, when and how often would we expect to meet this word? . 2. Criteria for selecting vocabulary Size of vocabulary knowledge, either receptive or productive, is generally acknowledged to be incremental. Schmitt highlights that vocabulary is incremental in number of ways. First, as regards the incorporation of new words into the mental lexical store; second, concerning the different aspects of word knowledge gradually being acquired. The aspects are not acquired on a yes/no basis, but as Schmitt says, “it may be better to consider the degree of receptive/productive control of the various word-knowledge aspects”.A general principle of vocabulary selection is frequency.

It is worth examining items of the vocabulary on frequency word-counts. One of the most widely known word-counts is the General Service List of English Words (compiled and edited by Dry Michael West). Its aim was to scientifically select and compile the 2,000 most commonly used words in English from a study of 5 million running words of written English. The list also took account of the frequency of different semantic values within those words possessing more than one meaning. The Threshold Level was prepared for the Council of Europe by J. An Eek and includes a lexicon of approximately 1,500 items. The Threshold Level attempted to define a minimum level of “general ability’ and the authors suggest that two-thirds of the lexicon would be required for productive use.

A third, and easily available word- mount is the Cambridge English Lexicon (compiled by R. Handmaids). Handmaids set out to define a comprehension lexicon that would be sufficient for students to pass the Cambridge First Certificate Examination. The result is a list of 4,500 words with over 8,000 semantic values. The contents of frequency counts should not be accepted uncritically.Their value must be Judged against the source of the data and criteria governing inclusion of the data. And even if we accept the legitimacy of the items included, there will still be occasions when usefulness is not determined by frequency.

Word-counts, being based on the utterances of native speakers, will obviously reflect the cultural interests of these speakers. Such interests may not be shared by Al learners, who may wish to express ideas and experiences quite outside those of native speaker. Landscape and environment are examples of this. Coverage very specific meaning.The criteria of need and level presuppose that students who are required to read technical reports in English in their native country will have different lexical needs to those learners who need English for travel purposes. Equally obvious is that elementary students will recognize limitations in their election of lexis that will not be true of advanced learners. As Paul Nation notes “A good vocabulary exercise focuses on useful words, preferably high frequency words that have already been met before; focuses on a useful aspect of learning burden.

It has a useful learning goal; gets learners to meet or use the word in ways that establish new mental connections for the word, it sets up useful learning conditions involving generative use; involves the learners in actively searching for and evaluating the target words in the exercise; does not bring related unknown or partly known words together, it avoids interference. 1. 3. Receptive and productive vocabulary It is not the main goal of this research project to offer a complete definition of what vocabulary is. Nevertheless the theoretical foundations behind this research study must be mentioned to foster understanding.Thus, in this particular section we shall explain how the concept of vocabulary has been understood for the elaboration of this research and the concrete aspects of this construct that have been taken into account and measured. The vocabulary construct is most often understood as being made up of several sublanguages or abilities.

This perspective on vocabulary learning helps the researcher to focus on particular aspects in order to measure and test each one of them. The most widely spread distinction is that of receptive and productive vocabulary; both concepts are very often used with those of passive and active vocabulary.Receptive vocabulary is defined by Nation as carrying “the idea that we receive language input from others through listening or reading and try to comprehend it”. In other words, receptive vocabulary would involve reading or listening to a word and retrieving its meaning. On the contrary, productive scapulars conveys the idea of a learner wanting to express something through speaking or writing, retrieving the word and producing its appropriate spoken or written form. The fact that this distinction is a widely accepted one does not mean that it is free from controversy.In fact there are many researchers that argue that this distinction should not be understood as one with clear boundaries, as their definition may suggest, but as a continuum within the students interlingua.

Near prefers to refer to these two concepts as passive and active vocabulary and as “being the result of different types of associations between words. Following this view, active vocabulary may be activated by other words as it has many different connections with other words while passive vocabulary can only be activated by external stimuli, namely by hearing or seeing their forms.This associations view of vocabulary has been criticized because vocabulary knowledge is not always associational driven but meaning driven. In other words, a foreign language learner may be able to name an object in the second language when he/she sees it and this does not have to favor associations with other second or first words. Others, such as Fearer, Hussar’s, Phillips or Palmer, prefer to interpret this distinction between knowledge. Nation offers a wider vision of the concept and explains that “the terms receptive and productive apply to a variety of kinds of language knowledge and use”.A passive vocabulary includes the words stored in verbal memory that people partially ‘understand,’ but not well enough for active use.

These are words that people meet less often and they may be low frequency words in the language as a whole. In other words, activating them takes longer and it demands greater stimulus than most textual contexts provide. Words stop being passive if people are regularly contracting relations that activate them, since this lowers the amount of stimulus needed to put them to use. A facility in using the words develops.Again constraints of another kind in the existentialistic context may also restrict the active use of some words. This can happen even when words are available for active use in principle, such as cultural taboo words that most people know but rarely use outside certain settings. This can be compared with active vocabulary, which are words that learners understand and use in speaking or writing.

The active and passive vocabulary of a learner changes constantly. They start using words, try new meanings, forget words, abandon words that have no use, revise words, etc.This distinction becomes a bit blurred, however, when we consider what ‘knowing a word’ means and when we consider the way students seem to acquire their store of words. It is true that students ‘know’ some words better than others, but it has not been demonstrated that these are necessarily the words which teachers have taught them, especially at higher levels. They might be words that are often used in the classroom or words hat have appeared in the reading texts which students have been exposed to.If we have any belief in language acquisition theories it is clear that many words which students know do come through that route rather than through learning. Other words may be those that students have looked up because they wanted to use them.

At beginner and elementary levels it certainly seems a good idea to provide sets or vocabulary which students can learn. Most of these early words will be constantly practiced and so can be considered as ‘active’. But at intermediate levels and above the situation is rather more complicated.We can assume that students have a store of words but it would be difficult to say which are active and which are passive. A word that has been ‘active’ through constant use may slip back into the passive store if it is not used. A word that students have in their passive store may suddenly become active if the situation or the context provokes its use. In other words, the status of a vocabulary item does not seem to be a permanent state of affairs.

. For example, advanced learners often have an extremely large passive vocabulary but a considerably smaller active one. 1. 4. Grouping of items of vocabularySince vocabulary consists of a series of interrelating systems and is not Just a random collection of items, it is necessary to present items to a student in a systematized manner. Semantic fields are made up of sets of semantically similar items. These fields may range from very broad categories to smaller areas, and the same item may occur in different fields.

Semantic fields form useful “building blocks” and can be revised and expanded as students progress; they often provide a clear context for practice as well. The groupings below consists so different types of semantic fields as well as phonological and grammatical sets.Clearly, some groupings are more most common and useful groupings found in course books e. G. Types of environmental pollution, disasters. Items similar in meaning are those which are easily confused. This type of group needs to be handled extremely carefully; the items need to be conceptualized properly, and it is vital to highlight to students the differences between items as clearly as possible.

Items which form “pairs” are synonyms, contrasts and opposites. Conceptualization is essential here. Items along a scale or cline illustrate differences of degree. Items within “word families” (derivatives).It is often possible to group items of vocabulary to illustrate the principles of word building, the meanings of prefixes and suffixes and the related phonological difficulties. Items forming a set of idioms can form coherent groups e. G.

Under the weather, on top of the world. However, this grouping is fairly restricted in practice and it is often easier to teach it as and when they arise. 1. 5. How many items to teach? We need to consider two questions in this section. First, the optimum vocabulary load for a single lesson, and second, the number of items that should be covered over the duration of the course.Researchers suggest an average of eight to twelve productive items as representing a reasonable input; the lower figure being more suitable for elementary students and the upper figure for more advanced students.

The extent to which learners may fall short of the desired lexicon over the duration of the course, will depend on a number of factors. For learners in their own country much will depend on individual motivation , the priority given to the language course amongst other commitments, and any contact with the language they might have outside the classroom: through books, films, work or native speakers of English.In this context homework can play a very important role in vocabulary development. External factors are also be considered. The most important among them are the following ones: a) How similar in form is the target item to an equivalent in the learner’s own language? Cognates such as “taxi”, “hotel”, “bar” should only cause phonological problems and are thus useful to deal with early on when teaching beginners: they can give a learner a sense of satisfaction as well as allowing him to focus on a new phonological system.False cognates will demand considerable attention and effort on the part of he student. Anything else which is completely removed from the learner’s own language will obviously more difficult to memories.

B) How easy is it to illustrate the meaning? Concrete items which can be represented visually can be dealt with more economically than abstract items. Translation is often a useful shortcut, but sometimes there is no direct, clear translation, and as level of sophistication increase, dealing with meaning and form becomes a time-consuming activity. ) What is the student’s learning environment? Factors such as the intensiveness of the course, whether the students are studying Outside their language classrooms will have some bearing on the vocabulary load which they can handle. D) Learners who fail to adopt effective language learning strategies, or who have a poor memory for language items, or great difficulty with phonology, will probably be unable to absorb as many items as “good” learners. They learnt. Part 2. Presenting Vocabulary There are many approaches and techniques used in the presentation of new vocabulary items.

We will now examine the most common ways in which meaning of new items is conveyed in a normal teaching situation. They are usually divided into woo major groups – traditional techniques and student-centered learning. 2. 1 . Traditional techniques used in the presentation of new vocabulary items Although “traditional approaches and techniques’ may sound pejorative, it is not intended to be; indeed, a teacher who was not able to make use of the following techniques might feel severely handicapped.Most of these are means which tend to be associated with a more teacher-centered approach and consequently the items taught through these means are usually selected by the teacher rather than the learner. 2.

1 . 1. Visual techniques Visuals are particularly useful for teaching concrete items of vocabulary. These include flashcards, photographs, blackboard drawings, wheelchairs and realize(objects themselves). Visuals are mostly used at elementary and intermediate levels. For example: elementary level intermediate level advanced level Miming and gestures are other ways of conveying meaning.When teaching an item such as “flood” or “pollution”, a teacher may build a situation to illustrate them, making use of the blackboard and gesture to reinforce the meaning.

2. 1. 2. Verbal techniques Use of illustrative situations This is more helpful when items become more abstract. It is especially helpful with idioms and collocations To ensure that learners understand, teachers often make use of more than one situation or context to check that learners have grasped the concept.Since idioms and collocations prevail at intermediate and advanced levels, this technique is not frequently used at the elementary level. For example Intermediate level At the elementary level it is usually used in the form of text with inserted pictures.

For example Elementary level Use of synonymy and definition compromise and restrict the length and complexity of their explanations. It would, for example, be Justifiable at low levels to tell students that “freezing” means “very cold”. Secondly, it is commonly used with higher level students and subsequently qualified. Boiling”, “sweltering”, “roasting”, for instance, means the same as “hot”, but are more informal. Translation is insufficient for presenting such items as, for example, “greenhouse effect”. It is advisable to provide a definition. The greenhouse effect is the problem off rise in temperature in the earth’s atmosphere.

Definition alone is often inadequate as a means of conveying meaning, and conceptualized examples are nearly required to clarify the limits of the item. This technique is best applied at the intermediate and advanced level.For example, here is a small text about the weather. You can find definitions for each word in bold type below it. 3. Contrasts and opposites This is a technique which students themselves use, often asking “What’s the opposite 4. Scales Once students have learnt two contrasting or related gradable items, this can be a useful way of revising and feeding in new items.

If students know “hot” and “cold”, for example, a blackboard thermometer can be a framework for feeding in “warm”, cool”, “freezing”, “boiling”.There are many different words referring to features of the environment. Here are some arranged on small to large scales. Brook stream river hillock hill mountain cove bay gulf copse wood forest puddle pond lake footpath lane road 5. Examples of the type To illustrate the meaning of subordinates such as “birds”, “fish”, “rodents”, “reptiles” , it is a common procedure to exemplify them. For example, rat, mouse, squirrel, hamster are rodents. For example Translation is a quick and easy way to present the meaning of words but it is not without problems.

In the first place, translation may not always convey the exact sense of an item, in the second place it may make it a bit too easy for students by discouraging them from interacting with the words. Person-dependent Vocabulary Learning Strategies From guessing at the first encounter, to possible dictionary use and note taking, to rehearsal, encoding, and contextual activation, vocabulary learning in real life situations is a dynamic process involving anticompetitive choices and cognitive implementation of a whole spectrum of strategies.Whether and how a learner evaluates the task requirement and whether and how a cognitive strategy is oriented process view of vocabulary acquisition that looks at naturally occurring vocabulary learning strategies as they relate to individual differences as well as the vocabulary learning task is beginning to form a new trend. Good learners, poor learners, and their vocabulary strategies The Named (1989) study referred to earlier was amongst the first to elicit vocabulary strategies learners spontaneously employ.The good learners were found to be more aware of what they could learn about new words, paid more attention to collocation and spelling, and were more conscious of contextual learning. By contrast, the underachieving learners refused to use the dictionary and almost always ignored unknown words. They were generally characterized by their apparent passiveness in learning.

They also took each word as a discrete item unrelated to previously learned words.Another study that explored students’ ability level and their guessing strategies is Stouten-van Preparer (1989). It was found that, compared to their strong counterparts, weak pupils tended to focus on the problem word and ignore the context; their knowledge of the world was more restricted; they had difficulty integrating knowledge from different sources; they caked mother tongue vocabulary knowledge, and they had difficulty generalizing from words they had already learned to slightly different new words.

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