Language Development Session 8 Vocabulary is one of
Language Development Session 8 Vocabulary is one of the most obvious components of language development. Without a common language, teaching or learning can not take place.
The question of what words should be taught in the student's second language often arises. Its important to know where your ESOL student is in his/her vocabulary development.
Knowing the student's level of development will help determine what approach to take to help the student acquire the new vocabulary being taught.
One of the earliest forms of vocabulary instruction was done following the grammar-translation approach. During this approach, students would use a dictionary to translate words back and forth.
With the development and implementation of other programs, the grammar-translation approach is often used as a teaching strategy.
Providing content vocabulary gives students the opportunity to function successfully in mainstream classes and to understand content area vocabulary. Effective vocabulary instruction should
increase the ESOL students' reading comprehension; develop knowledge of new concepts; improve writing; help students communicate effectively; and help foster a deep understanding of words and word concepts.
Today, educational researchers have focused vocabulary development in terms of four areas. These include: (1) vocabulary in the average text, (2) high frequency, (3) academic words, and (4) technical and low frequency words.
High frequency words are words that include function words such as: in, that, of, a, etc. Nearly 80% of the words in the average text are considered to be high frequency words. Technical words are words that are
related to a specific skill. Five percent of the text is considered to be technical words. Academic words are words that are specialized and apply to a specific discipline such as science, social studies, math, etc.
These words make up nearly 9% of the words in the average text. Academic vocabulary is a very important learning goal for academic learning in
English classroom settings. Low frequency words are words that are not high frequency, academic or technical words. Many low frequency words are
proper nouns. Low frequency words need to be learned gradually after learning the high frequency words. Fluency practice needs to be done across all four skill areas (listening, reading, speaking and writing).
Activities to help build fluency might include listening to the same text several times, repeated reading, and ten-minute writing. Native speakers increase their vocabulary by over 1000 words per year until their twenties. Most second language learners achieve one-fourth of this rate
Activities to help build fluency might include listening to the same text several times, repeated reading, and ten-minute writing. Native speakers increase their vocabulary
by over 1000 words per year until their twenties. Most second language learners achieve one-fourth of this rate Its suggested that teachers do not spend class time focusing on these individual
words, but rather focus on strategies for coping with and remembering these words. There are four strategies that will help students learn and retain low frequency words.
Guessing from context clues Using word cards with translations Using word parts (prefix, root and suffix) to break complex words into parts Using a dictionary to find the meaning of a word
To have a well-balanced language course the course should include the following: Learning through meaning - focused listening and reading (input)
Input can be in the form of conversations, classroom speaking activities, listening to carefully chosen or adapted stories, and notetaking. Learning through meaning - focused speaking and writing (output) This involves seeking clarification and
confirmation, requesting, and explaining. Other (spoken) activities include retelling and role play. Learning through language - focused study and teaching This is a direct study of vocabulary involving learning vocabulary strategies, doing vocabulary
activities, and word cards. Developing fluency in listening, speaking, reading and writing Activities with fluency goals should take up 25% of the language course. Fluency practice needs to be done across all four
skill areas (listening, reading, speaking and writing). Word Lists When developing word lists for the second language student, there are many factors to
keep in mind, including: Word Frequency - The words with the highest frequency and the widest range are often targeted first. However, one limitation to selecting only the highest frequency is that these words are often not
the most teachable words to the student at their level of proficiency. Teachability - Includes the words chosen for their reachability through the particular teaching method chosen (total physical response, etc).
Similarity - Words that are similar to the native language vocabulary. Availability - Words that quickly come to
mind when teaching a subject. Coverage - Choosing words for the word list that cover the meaning of other words.
Defining Power - These words are used to help define/describe other words. Read the following article: Vocabulary: Description, Acquisition and Pedagogy
When discussing and studying vocabulary development it is important to also mention word counts. We will briefly mention two of the most popular ways to determine word counts.
Tokens or Running Words This is simply counting the words that are either spoken or written. If the same word occurs more than once it is counted each time. The following questions can be answered when using the Token word count: How many words are there on a page or in a line? How long is this book? How fast can
you read? Types Types counting involves counting all words in a sentence. If the same word appears again it is not counted. The following is a
type of question that can be answered when using the Types word counting method: How many words does the dictionary contain?
Limitations of word counts when dealing with ESOL students include: Most word counts come from written sources
Counts are not always reliable. Some include literacy that is not currently in use (classical text, Bible). Word counts often omit words that are new to language such as TV.
The following site is a good resource to use for choosing word list and vocabulary activities for second language learners: School for International Training, Dave's ESL Cafe. Access and read the following article: The Critical Role of Vocabulary Development for
English Language Learners. With society becoming more culturally diverse, the classroom teacher's challenge is the task of building a classroom atmosphere that fosters cultural understanding and sensitivity to those who
are not the dominant group of society. For the second language learner, acquiring a second language and fitting into the norms of the new culture is like developing a second identity.
There are many different influences that affect culture, its influence on the school setting, and how it will influence the impact of the curricula.
Geert Hofstede, an expert on interactions between nations and organizational culture, has identified five domains of culture that influence individuals and how they function. Power Distance - This involves the degree of differences expected between the levels
of power in society. These dimensions can be compared to the caste system. Individualism vs. Collectivism - This refers to the extent to which people are expected to stand up for themselves, or alternatively act predominantly as a
member of the group or organization. Masculinity vs. Femininity - This refers to the value placed on traditionally male or female values. Japan is thought to be the most masculine country while Sweden is considered to the most feminine.
Uncertainty Avoidance - This reflects the extent to which a society attempts to cope with anxiety by minimizing uncertainty.
Long vs. Short Term Orientation - This describes a societys time horizon, or the importance attached to the future versus the past and present. Besides having domains that influence how individuals interact with others and
situations, there are also different degrees of culture and how they impact an individual. These degrees can best be described as a comparison to an iceberg. The Iceberg Concept At the surface culture level, the emotional
load is low. Culture is made up of elements that can easily be changed. These elements include shelter, food, music, dress, language, arts/crafts, work and geography. At the lower level are elements of deep
culture. These elements are often described as the heart and soul of the individuals culture. They are deeply embedded and are often abstract. These elements include courtesy, nature of friendships, concept of self, problem solving roles in relation to age, sex and class, occupation, kinship, and preference for competition or cooperation.
One of the limitations of the majority of current classroom instructional techniques is that teachers talk infrequently with individual students on a daily basis. Most "teacher talk" focuses on routine matters and doesnt elaborate on the individual
childs thinking. When children are exposed to informative and responsive talk, their vocabulary will be rich and continue to build. Research by Dodge, Colker, and Heroman suggests that if the childs exposure to
informative and responsive vocabulary is limited, then the child will spend more time struggling to catch up. An abundance of strategies can be used in the classroom to promote mastery of new vocabulary for the second language
student. These include but are not limited to the following. At the beginning of each class period, time should be devoted to finding students prior knowledge of the topic. Materials and vocabulary should be
previewed prior to the start of the lesson. Vocabulary building activities should be interspersed throughout the week to ensure comprehension and progress.
Assessments should be given to test understanding of key vocabulary techniques to help build vocabulary. Using gestures, body language and visuals Pointing to visuals to clarify meaning Labeling drawings, pictures and objects to help make connections to oral, written and physical objects
Incorporating role-playing activities Think-Aloud -This activity has the teacher talk out any thinking or decision making they are doing during an activity.
Meaningful Sentences - During this activity the teacher list words with spaces between for writing definitions on chart paper. Mapping - Semantic maps have the students choose a topic and place it in the center of the page. Next, the student
verbalizes words associated with the topic. Often students are encouraged to draw simple pictures to accompany their written words. Grouping - This activity reduces the number of discrete elements. Here techniques are
similar to webbing where concepts and vocabulary are placed into meaningful groups. Imagery - Students are asked to picture the new language in their mind.
Sounds - Often auditory links can help students identify a familiar word in their own language to a new word. Physical Response - During this activity, students physically act out a new
expression. Highlighting - Highlighting vocabulary or key
concepts will help emphasize major points and vocabulary that is being taught. Word Banks - Students use index cards to create word banks. Read the following articles: Meeting the Challenge of Content Instruction Also, access and read the following article: Culturally Responsive Classroom Management: Awareness into
Action. Learning logs - Students write words and definitions in daily logs. These logs can become personalized dictionaries for the ESOL students to use while building acquisition in the second
language. Content Specific Cultural Features of Curricula ESOL students come from a variety of
cultural backgrounds. Teachers need to be aware of the needs of the diverse population and the cultural features of their curricula that accompany diverse learners. It is suggested that teachers keep the following in mind when they are selecting the curricula.
Culture is embedded in everyday language in functions that are taken for granted. Teachers need to be aware that they teach culture when they teach language.
The teacher becomes the bridge for the second language student by integrating instruction with the students culture. It is the responsibility of the teacher to recognize these items and adapt the
curriculum and materials to meet to needs of the students. Content should include student interest and experiential backgrounds. It should ensure that the content reflects culture and gender diversity
When choosing curricula and materials, the teacher should identify specific problems ESOL students might encounter. Do not only look for the complexity of the text, but also the skills needed and any culture specific references that might not be
understood. Effective curricula incorporates the ESOL/second language learners language and culture in the curricula as well as the cultural background of the student. It is the responsibility of the educator to
ensure that the curriculum being used is non-biased and beneficial to the learning of the ESOL student. Read the following articles: Meeting the Challenge of Content Instruction Also, access and read the following
article: Culturally Responsive Classroom Management: Awareness into Action.
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