Running head: NEW WAYS IN TEACHING VOCABULARY TO ESL STUDENTS 1
New ways in teaching vocabulary to ESL Students
The issues of teaching foreign-language vocabulary students have been under greater consideration among pedagogic communities and associations all around the world. Vocabulary is commonly defined as “all the words known and used by a particular person” (Barnhart: 1968). Learning vocabulary is one of the first and foremost steps in learning foreign language. However, acquisition of new words is a continual process and “arguably the most critical component of successful language learning” (McCarten: 2007). Therefore, a large amount of new methodological aspects of teaching and learning vocabulary are being discussed at present time, creating a plenty of opportunities to make these lessons interactive and interesting.
Students acquire new lexis in two ways: the first is by discovery while reading, watching films or interacting, the second is by having words presented in the classroom in a formal manner by a teacher. Both ways could be effectively integrated in vocabulary lessons according to students’ level and age. Regardless of the chosen way, teachers may face the number of intricate issues. McCarten mentions that “ it is equally important to help students with how to learn vocabulary as well as what to learn” (McCarten, 2007). In other words, it seems quite essential to introduce the right amount of language, starting from the most frequent words and developing into more specific lexis. The other crucial point is timing, when small concentrated sessions are better than long-lasting weary ones. Moreover, ESL experts recommend using the language of instructions which is easier than the level of language is being taught. They also suggest planning vocabulary lessons according to students’ individual interests, engaging them in speaking and creating their own examples. It would seem that the least problematic issue of vocabulary is meaning. However, ESL students are frequently confused with different meanings of the same word. Besides, it seems really important to learn new words using synonyms and antonyms as well as word stems. Furthermore, in the recent past collocations and language chunks have become the subject of intense interest. As Steven Pinker considers “the mind analyses language as some mixture of memorised chunks and rule-governed assemblies” (Pinker:1999).
In my opinion, the way of presenting new lexis depends on the students’ age and level. In my experience I have been teaching students starting from preschool children up to secondary school students. As I see, the most rewarding way of teaching vocabulary for preschool children is the combination of different activities in one lesson involving different memory types by playing card games (there is a great variety of different activities in teacher’s books), drawing, singing songs, rhyming, watching videos with more emphasis on role plays as the most effective way of memorising words. Primary school pupils learn new words in connection with phonics and letters. They are quite creative but more concentrated and ready for writing simple words. In combination with picture cards I use word cards and stickers. Among games the most popular are miming games and competitions in teams. The right amount of words for this group is about 5-7 words per one unit. Young learners can memorise simple chunks and acting them out together with new lexis. Last year pupils of primary school who are more confident in reading start discovering new words from the context or monolingual dictionary, actively playing different word games in teams, making up their own sentences, engaging in project work. For secondary school students I commonly teach vocabulary by context discovery, guessing games, synonyms and antonyms, word formation, collocations. Acting out real life situations is extremely popular activity and is considered as the most thrilling. Assuming that such students have their own hobbies and interests, personal tastes, it would be challenging for them to discover words from texts, songs or videos they choose themselves. At this level it is important to introduce difference between spoken and written language. Students greatly relish sms or social net slang which we sometimes practice.
On the whole, nowadays the standard way of introducing vocabulary by a teacher, learning long lists of separate words without context, tiring vocabulary sessions regardless personal student’s interests are becoming less popular and effective. Teachers are now provided with modern techniques to make vocabulary lessons more rewarding and effective.
Barnhart, C. L. (1968). The World Book Dictionary. Edition. Published by Thorndike-Barnhart, Chicago, Illinois.
McCarten, J. (2007) Teaching Vocabulary : Lessons from the Corpus, Lessons for the Classroom, Cambridge University Press
Pinker, Steven. (1999). Words and rules: The ingredients of language. New York: Basic Books.
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Статья о новых методах преподавания лексики, которая предназначена для использования на всех уровнях преподавания языка для учителей школ и Вузов. Данная статья содержит последние разработки и обзор новейших методов преподавания английского как иностранного, обобщает передовых методик в области обучения лексики.
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