Vocabulary as the essence of a language is one of main tools for language learning, and has been the object of many studies. In fact, the vocabulary learning is considered as the heart of language learning and main component of language teaching (Laufer, 1997).In the past, the vocabulary was given little priority in the literature of English language learning and teaching, and received only incidental attention in textbooks (Hedge, 2008; Richards &Renandya, 2002). This may refer to the assumption that expressed the lexical instruction is not necessarybecause it can be occurred by itself (Moir& nation, 2008). Therefore, this assumption made the vocabulary teaching no popular on that time (Nation, 1990).
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Several studies have recently discussed about lexical problem of language learners. For example, communication is generally associated with the lexical problems because it breaks down when people do not know the right words to use (Allen, 1983; Bowen, 1985). Nowadays, it is more accepted that vocabulary plays an important role in a language learning and teaching. For example, Griffiths (2003, 2006) showed the importance of vocabulary teaching to the language learners has been acknowledged. Hence, there is an increasing interest in the vocabulary learning as main part of every language learning and teaching. Although there is a number of studies on the field of vocabulary learning (Folse, 2004; Hunt &Beglar, 2005), but its most effective means is still unclear (de Groot, 2006).
For vocabulary learning, one way is finding the means of words in the dictionary and adding them in one’s vocabularies. Another way is using vocabulary card or flash card that is faster process than the previous way to increase word power. The flash cards can be studies almost anywhere and anytime, especially when one has a free time, even very short (Brown, 2000). In addition, they can be arranged as logical groups of the target words (Cohen, 1990; Gairns& Redman, 1990).Some studies reported that language learners could more effectively improve their vocabulary by using the flash cards instead of word lists (Mondria&Mondria-de Vries, 1994; Schmitt & Schmitt, 1995). In the history of language teaching, the flash cards have been used for many purposes such as (1) to improve word recognition ability of students who are poor in reading skill (Culyer, 1988); (2) to practice vocabulary development of student during their foreign language learning (Ervin, 1988);(3) to teach English as second language (Hart, 1982); (4) for teaching structure of sentences, articles, propositions, and tenses (Palka, 1988), and; (5) to improve the reading and comprehension speed (Tan & Nicholson, 1997).
Ehri and Roberts (1979) compared language learning ability of first graders based on printed words in context and in isolation. Their results indicated children with flashcard-training base learned more about the orthographic form of words, while the context-trained children learned more about the word semantic identities.Cuvo and Klatt (1992) evaluated the impacts of three instructional conditions: 1) teaching sight words by using flash cards; 2) community-referenced sight words, and 3) teaching the phrases with a videotape setting and sight words with the natural symbols in community to youths with moderate mental retardation. The results represented that learning and recognition of the community-referenced sight words was very fast in all three conditions, while a generalization from the flashcard and videotape conditions occurred to the community sites. These results confirmed the positive effects ofusing flash cards for learning a language; even some studies have reported that the flash cardsshould be used as a tool for creating fun in classrooms (Nicholson, 1998). Report byDin and Wienke(2001) showed using flash card is an effective approach in learning and training of chemistry vocabulary and study for high school teachers and students. In addition, study about effects of using flash card and word list approaches on language learning ability of EFL student (Learning of foreign language vocabulary) determined no significant difference in the effectiveness of both methods Baleghizadeh and Ashoori (2011). The literature review indicates that efficiency of using flash cards method in the vocabulary learning and teaching process is limited, and needs to be re-evaluated.
Review of literature
Acquisition of vocabulary is one of the most challenging parts for language learning. In order to solve the problem of forgetting learnt words by language learners through the time, teachers can attempt to use learning devices into their classes. Thus, this study would like to present a newvocabulary learning tool that called “Vocabulary Flash Card” (VFC). Many researchers agree that curriculum designers and EFL educators will feel that their responsibility in language learning and teaching is more sensitive after knowing there are individual differences in learning process.Furthermore, it will help them to fit teaching and learning in order to develop students’EFL learning potentials, and to support students to become familiar with the approaches they can learn most effectively. In addition, it canassist to the students forcreating and developingother techniques and tools which can motivate language learners more than before. Better understanding on students’opinions about the vocabulary learning process and using techniques enables teachers to design and provide suitable materials and activities for improving the students’ vocabulary learning and lexical competence.
Problems resulted from lack of vocabulary knowledge may be the main barriers to successful language learning. Therefore, finding solutions for these problems may greatly help both language students and teachers. To prepare guidelines for solving vocabulary acquisition problems, the first step is to discover those problems and identify their nature. Hence, this study by revealing main problems of vocabulary learning and give solutions to them helps English teachers, students, curriculum designers, and may be parents to change their using strategies for English language learning to the new and more applicable ones such as Vocabulary Flash Card (VFC) using.
Flashcard is a card, one side of card includes new vocabulary and the other side includes translation or synonym. According to EslahkarKomachali and Khodareza (2012) flashcard for EFL teaching or self-study has been useful tool for teachers and learners.Nation (2001) describes this strategy in learning vocabulary in another language that a learner writes foreign word on one side of a small card, and its translation of the first language on the other. The learner goes through a set of cards and tries to recall its meaning.as Tan and Nicholson (1997) stated flashcards have been used to improve both comprehension and reading speed.Some researchers have criticized using flashcard for stressing memorization over comprehension and others have argued that they should be used as a devise to create fun classrooms (Nicholson, 1998).
In the past more teachersemphasized on the grammar, they pay less attention on the learning vocabulary. While grammar translation approach to the teaching of language provided a balanced diet of grammar and vocabulary, audiolinguisticssuggested that emphasis should be strongly on the acquisition of the grammar patterns of the language (Shakouri and Mehrgan, 2012).It was believed that if learners were able to internalize these basic patterns, their large vocabulary building comes later (Nunan, 1991).
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There are some reasons and factors about why teachers neglected vocabulary in the past.During the period 1940-1979,Allen (1983) outlined two reasons: (1) it has emphasize too much in language classroom during the years before that time, and people considered it as the only key to language learning, and; (2) the meaning of words couldnot adequately be thought, so it is better not to try to teach them.
Results from Zimmerman (1997) would also lead us to think that most second language learners have traditionally been through by methods gave minimal attention to vocabulary, so it seems reasonable to expect most teachers will continue to neglect vocabulary language, whether it is because of the methods by which they have learn the methods by which they are learning.
Researchers are always trying to find appropriate ways to facilitate learning vocabulary. Learning vocabulary is different in different situations and levels. Using flash cards comes from anaudio-lingualmethod. Teachers pay less attention to using flashcard in teaching and methodology. This article tries to determine the effect of using flashcard on promoting students’ knowledge of vocabulary,according to shakoori and mehrgan (2012) using flashcard is not effective in learning abstract words. For teaching abstract words it is better to create context, whileusing flashcard enhances learning vocabulary. Both students’ participations in classroom activities and performances on vocabulary test have been significantly increased after using flashcard.
This study indicates there was different between using flashcard and traditional teaching method. They believed that using flashcard is much better than traditional method according to four reasons.(Mondriya and mondria-de vries, 1994; nalcata; schmith and achmitt, 1995) . First new words can be easily practiced extensively with flashcard. Learners can separate cards into several categories based on their difficulty level. It helps them to review the new words. Second, working with flashcard increases vocabulary retrieval. Since learners are presented with a second language word and its definition on the other side of the card, they can easily practice new words and recall their meanings in as much as the words appear on two different sides of the card. Third learning words through traditional method, because some words may receive less attention than others because of the particular positions in the class. Nevertheless, there is not such a problem in learning with flashcard since they tend to be more flexible.
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