Read Microsoft Word - Guizhou Lectures - Teaching Vocabulary.doc text version

Teaching Vocabulary

The following is adapted (for the sake of space) from the slides we used in a PowerPoint presentation.

Teaching Vocabulary: Key questions

These questions are floated at the beginning to stimulate thought and establish the limits of the topic. We come back to each at a later stage. · What is vocabulary?

· Is it just a lot of words? This may seem like a silly question. In most people's minds, perhaps, vocabulary involves lists of words, albeit categorised and often with multiple meanings for each word. · What's involved in knowing a word? Again, there may be a standard response here: knowing a word may mean more than is realised or than is often stated/thought. · How much vocabulary is enough? Of course, this may prompt another question: `Enough for what purpose?'

Basic terms

productive/active This is the vocabulary that the learner can put to productive use, i.e. in speaking and writing. It is a smaller set than the following. receptive/passive Larger than productive/active, this vocabulary can also be used in listening and reading. Of course there are various degrees of `knowing' and there are plenty of words that even native speakers understand but could not necessarily explain or use accurately. memorise (remember? recite?) Quite often these words are confused and/or used wrongly. memorise: an active strategy undertaken to remember something, e.g. a poem remember: what the mind does with an event or detail, enabling recall recite: to say aloud something that has been memorised, e.g. a poem recycle Seeing a vocabulary item more than once, reusing it, using it in different ways/contexts, etc are ways to recycle. Recycling seems to be beneficial to learning vocabulary. It is surprising how much we forget quite quickly.

Mick & Anne Kavanagh

What is vocabulary?

The idea here is to challenge the idea that vocabulary simply means words. Looking at other levels of vocabulary can be beneficial in terms of saving work. In other words, the prospect of learning a phrase as a `chunk' can be optimistic - one learns several words together and although each may not be known/understood individually the phrase can be used. Some interesting questions here are: · Are numbers vocabulary? · Are acronyms vocabulary? · How is collocation useful? · What can we do with short sentences like `We're having a lovely time!'?

57

Dutch uncle

to put (the light) on

BBC

Good morning!

We're having a lovely time!

1998

in order to

to get on well with someone

to eat

black and blue

to have someone do something for you

Mick & Anne Kavanagh

What's involved in knowing a word?

Some or perhaps most of these are self-explanatory. The main point is that there is a good deal to learning a word, but that busy teachers often tend to concentrate on the first three points in the list. · meaning Does this mean Chinese translation/equivalent? · spelling Often the most easily tested aspect of vocabulary, students are well used to `dictation'. · pronunciation Rather too easily ignored, especially where the teacher may feel unsure, but also where there seems to be no need to know (e.g. words which are only needed for reading purposes) · grammar The grammatical pigeonhole into which the word/phrase can be put (i.e. parts of speech, like noun, adjective, phrasal verb) · collocation Some words go together very often and sometimes to the exclusion of others (e.g. black and white, not white and black; watch TV, not watch a book) · connotation Sometimes there is a meaning that is not very clear from just reading/hearing the words, or even knowing the definition. Sometimes, dictionary definitions of two words may be the same, but there is a difference between the words which is somehow sensed by native speakers (e.g. the difference between smell and stink; thin/slim; thrifty/tight). · register Register is about formality, and words and phrases used, for example with friends may not be so appropriate when talking to the college president

Mick & Anne Kavanagh

How much vocabulary is enough?

`...you cannot become an efficient speaker and listener overnight, thus, the first thing to do is to try to memorise as many words as you can, and this means `stuffing your head with mountains of words'." (English Star, a university Foreign Language Department newsletter) "In order to go to America to study, I learned thousands of English words for the TOEFL test. Now I've forgotten them all!" (Former overseas student) Both these quotations indicate a belief that many words are necessary. The first, however, sounds almost like a surgical procedure. It also strongly states that all this stuffing is necessary before speaking/listening. The second is perhaps indicative of a very common phenomenon - memorising only for tests.

Problems with teaching vocabulary

· Textbooks: long wordlists Many textbooks have very long wordlists for each unit - 100 words would not be unusual. This means that, in order to understand the text/s related to a particular unit, students have to know or be able to guess at a lot of vocabulary. · Boredom: students and teacher Both students and teachers can become bored and demotivated by this. Presentation of vocabulary is often done in the same way repeatedly. · Difficulty: for students, and therefore teacher For English majors, long lists of words are trying enough; for non-majors they are very difficult.

Mick & Anne Kavanagh

Possible solutions

· Motivation Motivation is vital if interest is to be maintained and especially so over the long haul of acquiring a lot of vocabulary · Enjoyment Enjoyment can be a way of motivating and making the heavy task of learning seem a little lighter · Various strategies for learning vocabulary It may be worth considering that not everybody learns in the same way. Even without close attention to learning styles, some variety is beneficial to more or less everybody. Teachers can both suggest and demonstrate various methods to students. · In and outside of class If students are to acquire enough vocabulary, the few hours they spend on English in the classroom can never be enough. They need to be encouraged to work on this after class and between lessons. · Regular revision It is salutary how much is forgotten rather quickly. Students need revision of vocabulary if they are to make their knowledge more permanent. · Recycling Recycling is similar to revision. There are various ways to recycle vocabulary, but textbooks don't always do this for the teacher/student. · Textbook support Textbooks need extra support. In other words, just learning the textbook, and learning from the textbook, is not really enough, and certainly not very varied. It is possible, however, to develop what is in the book in order to give students a better chance.

Mick & Anne Kavanagh

The following are exercises developed form the wordlist of one non-major English textbook. The intention is to demonstrate how a wordlist can be used over and above the explanation and dictation of the words it contains.

Grouping words...by stress pattern

belief mysterious scholar census decline package taxation statistical widespread dramatic participant response statistics

Oo

oO

oOo

oOoo

Students can allocate words to columns according to their stress pattern. Doing this attracts attention to a feature of pronunciation which is easily ignored, but which has implications for both speaking and listening. In order to do this well, students should be encouraged to say the words out loud. This also lends itself to dictionary work, or attention to the wordlist - if dictionaries or wordlists are good they will indicate at least the main stressed syllable. Oo census package scholar widespread NB: the word widespread may fit into either the first or second category, depending on one's transatlantic bias!

Mick & Anne Kavanagh

oO belief decline response

oOo dramatic statistics taxation

oOoo mysterious participant statistical

Grouping words...into lexical sets

(being) divorce participant rate sociologist trend census marriage politician rural statistical unmarried decline married poll scholar statistics urban

Words can also be grouped according to what they mean. In some cases, of course, there may be uncertainty, which may lead students and teachers to discussing vocabulary in a more vibrant way. In this case, the teacher is not simply instructing students in what to do, and vocabulary items themselves can become more interesting as topics.

opposites marriage ­ divorce married ­ unmarried rural ­ urban

people (being) politician scholar sociologist participant

topic census statistics trend statistical poll rate decline

Mick & Anne Kavanagh

Crossword

1 2

3

4

5

6

7

8

1. I am single but my sister is ..................... 2. If they ask me, my ..................... will be `No!' 3. (across) He's a ..................... of ancient Chinese literature. 3. (down) The ..................... explained how rapidly society is changing. 4. The last ..................... showed a small increase in the population. 5. The number of SARS victims is ..................... increasing. 6. Last week's ..................... indicated a 5% fall in Bush's popularity after the war ended. 7. The death ..................... from SARS remains stable. 8. Recent events have not reversed the ..................... of smoking.

1. 2. 3. (across) 3. (down) 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Mick & Anne Kavanagh

Wordsearch

T S U O I R E T S Y M A S W E R T Y U I D P X J I N T E R V I E W A H G G A M A E N C N T J U D O R U R A L A I M I N C L K K A I V O R E E G D O S J N A N A B R U M U I D E M K T H T N M E L C Y N G E C R O V I D N O N Z X C V B L A U X E S

rate medium mysterious urban trend rural interview sociologist decline taxation sexual divorce

Mick & Anne Kavanagh

Jumbled letters

· · · · · · · · · · iegnb tnceian rchlosa eecildn ecdade eacakpg xaaontti riltyima iraacmdt rdidseaewp

Mick & Anne Kavanagh

Teaching Vocabulary

To recap: · Motivation: endless task Because vocabulary learning is more or less limitless, and a difficult process for many, motivation is essential. · Enjoyment: lighten the load Enjoyment can help to lighten the load. · Various strategies: not just one; different for different people Different ways of learning and remembering vocabulary are necessary, and can help to keep both students and teachers sane. · In and outside of class: can't learn for them Work is needed in and out of class. As teachers, we can only do so much (even if more than we normally think) to help students learn. In the end, they have to put the work in.) · Regular revision: including in class Without regular revision, much is forgotten. Revising just before exams is inefficient and leads to more shallow learning. · Recycling: through various means Many different ways to recycle vocabulary can be found and used. Here we have presented just a few. · Textbook support: materials production; advantages of teamwork It is important to consider developing what is already in the book. This involves taking the book as a starting point, rather than the be-all and end-all of English learning. This might result in producing something that can be used as extra materials in or out of class, and to divide up the work (say, to tackle a whole textbook) several teachers could be involved. There are obvious possibilities here in terms of potential publishing projects and working together.

Mick & Anne Kavanagh

Answers: Crossword

m a r r e s p o n s e i e d

p

s o c i o l o g i s t

c e l

h n l

l u

a s t e a d i l y

r

r

r a t e

n

d

Wordsearch

T S U O I R E T S Y M A S X I N T E R V I E W A T I O R E N A B R U M U I D E M T T E C R O V I D O

G

D

C

D O R U R A L

N L

O

C

I

N

L A U X E S

Jumbled letters · · · · · · · · · · being ancient scholar decline decade package taxation military dramatic widespread

Mick & Anne Kavanagh

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