TEACHING VOCABULARY 1 Penny Ur Bnei Brak, February 2015 1. Some basic facts about vocabulary Reviewing terminology word lexeme
morpheme denotation connotation collocation Defining vocabulary The lexical items of a language; including words and lexical chunks, but not grammatical items. Lexical words, composed of one morpheme big, man or more than one
going, beautiful lexical chunks (also called lexical phrases, phrasal expressions, memorized sequences, formulaic utterances, idioms etc.)may take the form of: a) Fixed expressions 1. Compound words: hyphenated swimming-pool, English-speaking or not bookcase, signpost, backup
2. Phrases strictly speaking, call it a day, in any case Fixed expressions contd. 3. Clauses or sentences Whats the matter, as I was saying, How are you? Note: Proverbs and some idioms and clichs are a particular class of fixed sentence expressions. Alls well that ends well. No news is good news. Break a leg! Lets call it a day!
b) Semi-fixed expressions Expressions that vary in subject, object, tense of verb etc. [take] [something] into account, [hold] [someone] responsible, [ ] [have] a good time Sub-sets of these are phrasal verbs take up, get away with, put up with Idioms may be semi-fixed: [lose] [ones] head
c) Collocations: words which tend to link with specific other words verb or adjective + preposition: angry (with), afraid (of), wait (for); adjective + noun: a tall person / a high building, a quick look / fast runner. verb + noun to wage a war, to tell the truth, to make a mistake, to do homework, to commit [a crime];
verb + adverb work hard, sleep soundly How many chunks and collocations can you find here? A young emperor penguin took a wrong turn from the Antarctic and ended up stranded on a New Zealand beach the first time in 44 years the aquatic bird has been sighted in the south Pacific country. Local resident Christine Wilton was taking her dog Millie for a walk on Peka Peka beach on the North Island's western coast when she discovered the bird. "It was out of this world to see it ... like someone just dropped it from the sky," Wilton said. Conservation experts say the penguin is about 10 months old and stands about
80cm (32 inches) high. Emperor penguins are the tallest and largest species of penguin and can grow up to122cm high and weigh more than 34kg (75lbs). Colin Miskelly, a curator at Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand, said the bird was likely to have been born during the last Antarctic winter. He said emperor penguins can spend months at a time in the ocean, but did not know what might have caused this particular one to become disoriented. Miskelly said the penguin appeared healthy and well fed, with plenty of body fat, and probably came ashore for a rest. Peter Simpson, a program manager for New Zealand's department of conservation, said officials are asking people to stand back about 10m from the creature and to avoid letting dogs near it.
A young emperor penguin took a wrong turn from the Antarctic and ended up stranded on a New Zealand beach the first time in 44 years the aquatic bird has been sighted in the south Pacific country. Local resident Christine Wilton was taking [her dog] [Millie] for a walk on [Peka Peka] beach on the [North Island's western] coast when she discovered the bird. "It was out of this world to see it ... like someone just dropped it from the sky," Wilton said. Conservation experts say the penguin is about [10 months] old and stands [about 80cm (32 inches)] high. Emperor penguins are the tallest and largest species of [penguin] and can grow up to [122cm] high and weigh more than 34kg (75lbs). Colin Miskelly, a curator at Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand, said the bird
was likely to have been born during the [last Antarctic winter]. He said emperor penguins can spend [months] at a time in the ocean, but did not know what might have caused this particular one to become disoriented. Miskelly said the penguin appeared healthy and well fed, with plenty of body fat, and probably came ashore for a rest. Peter Simpson, a program manager for New Zealand's department of conservation, said officials are asking people to stand back about 10m from the creature and to avoid [lett]ing dogs near it. 2. What do learners need to know about a lexical item?
Aspects of lexical knowledge: receptive and productive Form: spoken (receptive and productive) written (receptive and productive) grammatical variations Meaning: denotation
connotation L1 equivalent Use grammatical links collocations frequency register, appropriateness Other items with associated meanings synonyms
antonyms Associated words in semantic sets (e.g. red, yellow, green) hyponyms (e.g. dog is a hyponym of animal) superordinates (e.g. animal is a superordinate of dog, cat) Discussion How important is each for you to teach when presenting a new item (at the level you are teaching)?
= essential =important ?= less important, or not sure x= not necessary (at this level) Form and meaning spoken form written form grammatical variants denotation connotation
hyponyms superordinates Form and meaning spoken form written form grammatical variants denotation connotation L1 equivalent(s) Use
grammatical links collocational links frequency? register, appropriateness? Associated meanings synonyms x antonyms x semantic sets x hyponyms x superordinates x
Task What else besides form (spelling, pronunciation) and meaning (basic, most common meaning) would you want to teach your students about the following items (choose a list appropriate for the level of one of your classes). Foundation: back begin ready mean(v) right short time, Intermediate: absolutely else free responsible save spend worry Proficiency: apology praise convenient accurately foreigner severe update
For example Short Pronunciation (American/British?) Spelling (sh, or) The fact that it usually means not Some common collocations: a short time, a short story Task What else besides form (spelling, pronunciation) and
meaning (basic, most common meaning) would you want to teach your students about the following items (choose a list appropriate for the level of one of your classes). Foundation: back begin ready mean(v) right short time, Intermediate: absolutely else free responsible save spend worry Proficiency: apology praise convenient accurately foreigner severe update 3. The importance of vocabulary learning
Background research and theory Laufer, B. (1997). The lexical plight in second language reading: Words you don't know, words you think you know, and words you can't guess. In Coady, J. & T. Huckin (Eds.), Second Language Vocabulary Acquisition (pp.20-34). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. No text comprehension is possible, either in ones native language or in a foreign language, without understanding
the texts vocabulary. This is not to say that reading comprehension and vocabulary comprehension are the same, or that reading quality is determined by vocabulary alone. Reading comprehension (both in L1 and L2) is also affected by textually relevant background knowledge and the application of general reading strategies, such as predicting the content of the text, recognizing the text and text structure, and grasping the main idea of the paragraph. And yet, it has been consistently demonstrated that reading comprehension is strongly related to vocabulary knowledge, more strongly than the other components of reading
(p.20) In other words: Vocabulary is not the only factor (also background knowledge, strategies) but the main one. Evidence that it is the main predictor of success in reading comprehension. High correlation bet vocab knowledge and success in reading comprehension (Laufer and others) Syntactic complexity didnt make any difference. Reading strategies are usable only if know vocab,
cant transfer otherwise. Words are more important than background knowledge. Experience and reflection Can you understand what this text means? day, lion and bear be forest see goat path jump goat kill , then start fight decide eat . As compared to: One a awere in a. they (Vpast) a .. on the
they (Vpast) on the . and (Vpast) it, (Vpast) (Ving) to (Vbase form) who would (Vbase form) it. Bottom line: Vocabulary is probably THE most important component of language proficiency to learn for comprehension and even more so for production. BUT How much time do teachers spend talking about
grammar in lessons? Vocabulary? How much space in workbooks is occupied by grammar exercises? Vocabulary? 4. How much vocabulary do students need to know? How much vocabulary (%) do you need to know in order to understand a text? What would you guess? 80%? 85%? 90%? 95%?
30 Answer: Answer: readers probably need to understand 95-98% of a text in order to understand the main gist and in order to guess the rest from context (Schmitt, 2008). Lets try it out. Extract from a speech by Obama:
Can you say what he is talking about? What the missing items are? That is the work we began last year. Since the day I took office, we renewed our focus on the __________ who __________ our nation. We have made substantial __________ in our homeland __________ and disrupted _________ that threatened to take American ____________. (86%) 32
And now? (95%) That is the work we began last year. Since the day I took office, we renewed our focus on the _________ who threaten our nation. We have made substantial __________ in our homeland security and disrupted plots that threatened to take American lives. (95%) 33
That is the work we began last year. Since the day I took office, we renewed our focus on the terrorists who threaten our nation. We have made substantial investments in our homeland security and disrupted plots that threatened to take American lives. 34 Conclusion
With 85% of the text unknown, it is difficult to get the gist. Even with 95% we cannot be sure of guessing unknown words correctly. According to research Students need to know 5,000 8,000 vocabulary items families in order to understand an unsimplified text (Schmitt, 2008). But it appears that most 4- or 5- point students in 12th grade know about 3000.
Hence - difficulty with the Bagrut reading texts (60% of the grade). What can be done? 5. Vocabulary in the Israeli curriculum and materials Goals of the vocabulary component in the curriculum 1. Quantity: To make sure that enough
vocabulary is taught (i.e. a minimum number of items for each level); 2. Selection: To make sure that the most important items are covered at elementary and intermediate levels. 1. Quantity By the end of 6th grade: 1200 items By the end of 9th grade, another 2000: 3200 items altogether By the end of 12th grade, another 2200: 5400
items altogether Proficiency Intermediate Foundation 2200 new items (700-800 a year)
2000 new items (600-700 a year) 1200 new items (about 400 a year) 5400 items 3200 items 1200 items
Altogether So, assuming students learn English in school about 30 weeks a year They should be learning at least 12 new items a week in elementary; at least 20 new items a week in Junior High; at least 30 new items a week in High School. Probably in the younger classes, nearly all of these need to be deliberately taught.
In older classes, some of the responsibility can be taken by the students themselves. 2. Selection A core list of items (words and chunks) that must be taught. About half or less of the total number required according to the table. Task If you were composing a list of core items that
are essential for learners of English what would be your criteria? Criteria Frequency How do we know which items are most frequent in the English language? Intuition? Research?
Intuition Which would you say were the top 10-12 most frequent full verbs in English (not counting be, do, have, modals like can, should, might)? The most common adverbs? According to research The most common verbs: say go get
make see know take think come give look use The most common adverbs: so, then, more, now, just, also, well, only, very, even
Were your intuitions good? In any case, intuitions need support from: corpora research teacher judgment Criteria for inclusion in the Curriculum 1. 2. 3. 4.
Frequency Practical usefulness (classroom) Relevance Easiness Not necessarily included: cognates lexical sets Why not cognates?
Many are not the same for all the students L1 (e.g. banana); No consensus as to which are the most important ones; Teachers and materials writers can select their own and include. Why not lexical sets? The research indicates that words that are a list of similar items (colors, clothes, parts of the body) are not learnt well if presented together.
Lexical sets It appears from research that learning items in lexical sets (e.g. names of colors, names of animals, parts of the body etc.) do not lead to good learning. Research on learning semantic sets Tinkham (1993)
Does it help learners to master a new set of lexical items if they are all members of a semantic set (same part of speech, same kind of meaning: e.g. clothes, animals)? 53 Learners were presented with two sets of items from an artificial language, and told their meanings; one set all related to the same domain, the other did not. shirt = moshee
shirt = achen jacket = kawvas sweater = nalo 54 The learners consistently learned the unrelated items better. The research was later replicated, with similar results. Waring (1998), Erten & Tekin (2008), Papathanasiou (2009)
When asked, learners said that they found they were confused because words had similar meanings. I.e. if you learn two words with similar meanings (or forms?) the learning of one interferes with learning the other. 55 But words linked to each other syntagmatically and thematically are learnt well. e.g. blue + sky is better learnt than blue + red +
yellow mother + love + home . better learnt than mother, father, son, daughter, sister, brother So The vocabulary presented in elementary textbooks should be based not on semantic sets or pairs, but on thematic and syntactic links. 56 Further implications 2
The teaching of lexical sets leads to teaching relatively infrequent words (e.g toes, purple). We have an enormous amount of vocabulary to teach: why waste effort on infrequent items that will not be useful to learners? Further implications 2 Any pairs or groups of words that might get confused should probably not be taught simultaneously as new
items. Antonyms: arrive / depart Synonyms: big / large Synforms of various kinds: Homophones: accept / except Homonyms, homographs: bear, entrance 58 Semantic associations may be useful for: a) The teaching of a new item hooked on one
already known which is semantically linked to it (e.g. teaching miserable when they already know sad). b) The design of practice exercises, e.g. odd one out or suggest an opposite. 59 Samples from lists. Note that: 1. Verb past forms provided only when irregular 2. Chunks are provided under headword
alphabetical order: so in front of after from 3. Meaning illustrated by brief sample uses, e.g. grade I study in sixth grade. friend from in front of full funny game
garden get, got girl give, gave glad glass go, went go on, went on going to good
good at goodbye grade I study in sixth great green grow, grew guess half half past
hand hang happen happy hard have, had have to, had to he head hear, heard hello
help her herself here high him himself his hold, held home
hope hot hour house how How are you? hundred I'm hungry idea if immediately
important million mine The car is mine. minimum modern moment more more and more
more or less Moslem/ Muslim (n/adj) mountain mouth museum must nation nature neat
necessary neither nor nervous newspaper noise none normal north not only note (n) note (v)
notice a number of object (n) occur odd Your behavior is odd. offer (v) offer (n) office
oil once again once more at once one another move onto operate operation opinion in my opinion opportunity
opposite ordinary orange (n) orange (adj) order (v) order (n) put in order in order to How can such requirements be
implemented in practice? 1. Textbook writers All the core items in materials for Foundation and Intermediate levels. A large number of items in order to enable learners to reach the target quantity. 2. Teachers Awareness of need to teach most frequent items.
Awareness of need to teach also chunks. Awareness of need to teach a lot of vocabulary. So both writers and teachers need a repertoire of effective teaching strategies to help them achieve good vocabulary learning by the students.
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