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Vocabulary is the first and foremost important step in language acquisition. In a classroom where students are not finding themselves comfortable with L2, language learning can be made interactive and interesting with the introduction of appropriate vocabulary exercises. This is the various methodologies that can be incorporated in the teaching of vocabulary items in a language classroom.
Robert Lado: (1955) talked about patterns of difficulty in vocabulary teaching. He highlighted key issues related to words, the native language factor and about patterns.Â He even analyzed Spanish, French and Mexican patterns of difficulty in their respective vocabulary items. He stated that while dealing with vocabulary one should take into account three important aspects of words - their form, their meaning and their distribution - and one should consider various kinds of classes of words in the function of the language. He said that the forms, meaning distribution and classification of words are different in different languages. He revealed that these differences might lead to vocabulary problems.
In my perspective, I strongly agree with Robert Rado. For over twenty years I have been an English teacher in primary school. I have forced various problems in teaching English. One main problem in teaching English is about teaching vocabulary. It is very difficult to make the students understand in teaching vocabulary. The most important issue is related to the the native language factor and about patterns and the forms; meaning distribution and classification of words are different in different languages.
Visnja Pavicic (2003) dealt with a way to improve students' abilities to explore, store and usage of vocabulary items. He determined the role of vocabulary teaching and how a teacher could help their learners. He laid emphasis on self initiated independent learning with strategies, in which formal practices, functional practices and memorizing could be included. He said that the teacher should create activities and tasks to help students to build their vocabulary and develop strategies to learn the vocabulary on their own.
According to Visnja Pavicic's research,I do agree with him. Self initiated independent learning with strategies could be emphasized as well as formal practices, functional practices and memorizing. Moreover, creating activities and tasks could help students to build the vocabulary and develop strategies to learn the vocabulary on their own, too.
On theÂ teaching skills of vocabulary items, Frisby (1957) commented thatÂ "While the teacher is not, himself, concerned with the actual selection of vocabulary for text book purposes since practically all the books we use are based on limited vocabularies, it is important that he/she (the teacher) should know the principles, which underlie vocabulary selection".Â Thus it signifies that a language teacher should be innovative and proficient in the application of methodologies pertaining to teaching vocabulary items in a classroom situation.
In my opinion, I extremely agree with Frisby because the methodologies of teaching vocabulary in English language should be innovative and proficient in a classroom situation.
Here are some strategies I often used in my English classroom.
1. Listening Carefully
Listening to the words carefully may is a good option in teaching vocabulary items in a heterogenic classroom. I always let the students hear the word in isolation and in a sentence. If the sounds of the word have been mastered, the students will hear it correctly with two or three repetitions. Breaking the word into parts and building up to the whole word will also be helpful.
2. Pronouncing the Word
I always pronounced clearly and slowly. The students enable to remember vocabulary longer and identify them more readily when they hear or see it.
3. Methods of Grasping the Meaning
I try to get the meaning to the class without using translation. This is not preferable on the ground that translation may or may not provide the meaning of the word accurately and precisely. It is advocated as it enables the class to go without grasping the meaning of a word that they have learned to pronounce rather than to depend upon the translation.
4. Key Strategies in Teaching Vocabulary
Here are some of the key strategies to unfold the information and meaning of a new word to a class is as follows:
- Definitions; definitions in the target language may be very handy if they are expressed in terms that are better known or more easily guessed than the word that is defined. In this direction teachers and students can refer to authentic and reliable dictionaries.
Self-defining Context; the context makes the situation clear, and this in turn illuminates the meaning of the new word. This practice saves time and develops an intensive reading habit and better understanding.
- Antonyms; when one member of a pair of opposites is understood, the meaning of the other can be easily comprehended.Â This helps the student to understand the different shades of meanings of a word.
- Synonyms; a synonym may be used to help the student to understand the different shades of meaning if the synonym is better known than the word being taught.Â Synonyms help to enrich a student's vocabulary bank and provide alternative words instantly.
- Dramatization; this method can be practiced at ease. It can win the favor of the students as learners like dramatizations and can easily learn through them.Â Many situations can be dramatized or demonstrated.
4. Using realia.
Try to make your lesson lively and interesting. It is done by bringing real objects to classroom (like postcard + book + pen + schoolbag + vegetables and everything that is worth to be brought to the classroom. For example; if you teach the word "tomato", bring a tomato with you and show it to the children, and give it to a child as a reward. If you want to teach verbs such as "sit, stand, throw, catch, bring, take..." you can play games with children. I believe they can learn better through body movements. If the beginners are middle school students with certain learning skills, maybe you can present the words directly.
You can bring colorful pictures to the classroom and then show students what the things are. If you would like to expand students` vocabulary knowledge, you can elicit pictures from students by asking concept questions. I think `eliciting` is the best way of attaining goals on vocabulary tasks.
Use the words in a real environment or context. Though challenging sometimes, it is really a good technique especially when it comes to abstract words like happiness or lucky or to go on a trip. Don't forget to help them find useful strategies to memorize the words. Give them some suitable exercises according to their ability to consolidate what they learn. At the same time, try to inspire their motivation and arouse their interest.
7. Mime and pantomime.
It is done through gestures and facial expressions and also via actions.
I used to make my students memorize much needed words, starting with irregular verbs then nouns, adjectives etc. Everyday they learnt 3 to 5 words .Whenever they had memorized enough words (as I planned, according to their stages) I made a test.
I used to participate with them in memorizing words inside the classroom, the first five minutes of the lesson is for the words they have learnt over the weeks. Remind and test them at every chance, and picnic, playing in friendly weather, in the school corridor. I have good clever students now in English Arts Department.
Warming up by games are always good activities for the English class to encourage students. Here are some dynamic games for reviewing and revising Lexical items.
1. Noughts and Crosses
- Teacher writes the vocabulary to be revised on the board in a noughts and crosses grid (9 vocabulary items).
- Divide students into two teams, one noughts and the other crosses.
- Toss a coin to see which team starts and nominate a 'volunteer' to choose any word from the grid.
- That student must use the word in a correct sentence and show the meaning in the context of the sentence.
- Be strict, the sentence must sound normal to your ears; otherwise the word gets thrown over to the other team for them to try.
- When a correct sentence is provided, rub out the word and replace it with a nought or cross depending on the team.
- Now it's the other teams chance to pick a word. The team with three 0's or X's in a row wins.
I usually elicit/re-present any words remaining in the grid after the game has finished, as they are likely to be the ones students don't know yet.
Note: Lexical items could be a collection of verbs, phrasal verbs, nouns, adjectives, expressions, idioms, vocabulary. from text etc.
2. Back to the board
- Divide the class into two teams (A and B).
- Choose a student from each team to move his/her chair so that the students have their backs to the board and are facing their team mates.
- Teacher writes a word or phrase on the board and both teams try to describe it to their team mates at the same time.
- The first to correctly reproduce what's on the board gets a point, insist on passable pronunciation.
- Rub the word out and put another one up. Keep the pace snappy. Rotate the students periodically so that everyone gets a chance in the team 'hot seat'.
- Deduct points for team members saying the word as soon as the teacher has written it (it's easily done), and for team representatives, turning round to look at the board and using mirrors, etc.
3. Board Run (Works well with kids)
- Put students in teams (two, three, four depending on class size) and line them up facing the board. Give the first student in each line a board pen.
- Teacher describes a word or phrase. The first students run to the board and write the word legibly scores a point. Tripping, holding and biting is allowed, but the word/phrase must be written correctly.
4. Chain Story
- Teacher writes vocabulary to be revised on the board. Teacher uses the first item of vocabulary in a sentence to start off a story. Students continue the story around the class by using vocabulary from board in ( or out of ) sequence.
5. Click your fingers
- Get students on their feet and in a circle. Start clicking or clapping, and on the third 'beat'
- Nominate a student who has to say a word from last lesson. This works best with groups of words, e.g. professions, forms of transport, phrasal verbs, sports, words beginning with 'P' etc.
- When a student can't provide a word within reasonable hesitation time (a second?), or repeats a word already said by another student, he/she is 'out' and sits down.
Is brainstorming still a buzzword? Put students in groups. Tell them to think of as many words as possible in three minutes on the subject ofâ€¦â€¦â€¦. (Over to you!). Appoint a group secretary to note down the words. Who has the most?
7 . Hangman: A word is represented on the board by one dash for each letter, e.g. coffee
_ _ _ _ _ _ Students suggest letters (usually vowels first). If the letter doesn't belong in the word. Teacher writes letter on the board and draws one line of a hangman's gallows. The students have to guess the word before a man gets hanged. One guesses counts as a line.
8 . What is this called in English?
Cut out pictures, stick them on card and on the other side write the word (and phonetic translation if you like).Students mingle and hold up cards asking, "What's this called in English?" Students can't sit down again unless they can name all the items on he cards.
In conclusion, vocabulary teaching is developing greater importance in English language classroom. Teachers are exploring ways of providing vocabulary instruction. Teacher is to experiment cautiously with the kinds of activities available in contemporary course books and to gauge their usefulness in assisting learners with the very considerable task of acquiring vocabulary. Given the frequency, attention, practice and revision are all necessary for successful vocabulary learning.