Teaching Vocabulary and Ways to Retain It

Report
Teaching Vocabulary and Ways
to Retain It
Khmelnytskyi National University
February 21, 2012
Carol A. Haddaway,
Sr. English Language Fellow, Ukraine

“Vocabulary forms the biggest part of the meaning of any
language, and vocabulary is the biggest problem for most
learners” (McCarthy as cited in Fan. 2003, p. 222).
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“In communication, vocabulary is often more important
then grammar” (Davies, 2000, p.59).
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Learning new words and how to use them is not a simple
matter and can be quite challenging but working with
words can and should be enjoyable and fun for learners
(Davies, 2000).
Outline
What is Vocabulary
 A balanced vocabulary program
 How to teach vocabulary
 Some teaching techniques
 Vocabulary development strategies
 Academic words

What is Vocabulary?
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Words/items (mother-in-law, post office, ice cream)
Word families (base words and their derived forms)
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Phrasal verbs
child, children, childhood, childish; teach, teacher,
teaching, taught
◦ take away, put on, figure out, look up, pick up
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Collocation
◦ digital photograph, hot summer
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Idioms
◦ call it a day, hot under the collar, cold shoulder, hit
the road running, piece of cake
What does it mean to “Know” a word ?
Layers of Word Knowledge
Examples
Meaning
Denotation
Connotation
Degree (“strength” of a word)
Dictionary e.g. dog - domestic animal
‘dog’ – to British or Arabic people
The conflict annihilated /destroyed/damaged. the
city.
Collocation
Fixed phrases (“word partners”)
forth and back; tall, handsome, and dark
Grammar, Spelling (look)
Pronunciation (sound)
Verbs
Nouns
Adj. or verbs with prepositions
Think, thought
Mouse, mice, information, advice
Responsible for, remind someone of
Word Parts
Prefixes/suffixes – sub, un, able
Substandard, ungrateful
Appropriate Forms
Formal/informal
Direct/euphemistic
Weep or cry, variant/variety, dinner
I heard that your uncle died/passed away
What Vocabulary Should We Teach?
Vocabulary Items that are:
 Frequent (West General Service List – first
2000 head words of English)
 Important (Academic Word List – 570 word
families)
Needed for Classroom Tasks & Activities
 Regular (common patterns or features)
 Easy to learn (cognates)

Must consider level & needs/interests of learners
Must answer students’ vocabulary questions
(Richards, Nation, Genesee)
How Should We Divide Our Time
in Teaching Vocabulary?
Teach each of these for about the
same amount (25%) of time:
(Nunan, 2004. Online course on Teaching Vocabulary
Learning from Input (L, R)
The content has a
message that
students want to
focus on.
 listening to a story,
having a
conversation,
following
instructions,
extensive reading,
watching TV

The man and the mango tree
Learning from Output (S, W)
Opportunity to use
the words
 Repetition
 Attention to
vocabulary, accuracy,
and appropriateness.
 Focus on
communicating
messages

Say/shout the word firstPlaying Cards
Turn the card over and the first player to say/shout the
corresponding word collects that card
PLAYING CARDS OUTPUT
FORUM VOL 48/4 2010, P. 28
Language-Focused (Deliberate)
Learning
Looking for patterns, dictionary work
 Vocabulary strategies
 Word cards
 Intensive reading

◦ Focus on vocabulary and aspects of grammar
and discourse features, while learner get to
practice language-learning strategies.
Fluency (speed + skill)
All 4 skills
 Use known words & grammar
 Encourage lots of use
 Time pressure to perform faster
 Focus on communicating a message as they'd
have to in real life,

Tell ------ - Dice game
4/3/2
Sit in groups of 4
Role the dice. The highest number starts
Take turns asking each other questions. e.g. you roll 6, the
person to your left says, “tell me 6 things about yourself”
Then person who asked the question rolls the dice and
continues like this.
VOCABULARY DICE
GAME – FLUENCY
Vocab Dice Game - examples
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English words
1 thing about yourself
2 things about your family
3 things about your best friend
4 things about your hobbies
5 things you wish you had
6 of your favorite movies
4 things about money, food, restaurants, things you like to do
Adjectives that describe you
Your favorite website
Reasons why you like Facebook
How you plan to make money
Favorite childhood memories
What are you good at
How Should We Teach Vocabulary?

Focus on important words
General Service List, Academic Word List

Give simple, clear explanations & translation
as needed

Use concept-checking questions to check
meaning

Provide repetition over time
Teaching Problem (1)
Teacher: The new word is important.
The stress is on the second syllable. OK,
repeat – important
 Silence
 Learner: What means?
 Teacher: OK – just repeat – important


appraisal
(Thaine, 2010)
Teaching Problem (2)

Teacher: OK, our 12th new word for
today: who knows what we call someone
whose job it is to take care of a building?
Teaching Problem (3)

Teacher: So here on the board is the new
word I’ve written up – wallet. So what
does it mean?

leverage

The player's popularity has given him a
great deal of leverage with the owners of
the team.
Teaching Problem (4)

Teacher: Right, the word is jump. For
example: He likes to jump.

Foliage

The foliage was think and I couldn’t see the
sun.
Teaching Problem (5)
‘Sissors’. Does everyone understand the
meaning of this word?
 (Silence)
 Teacher: Do you understand? Anya?
 Learner:Yes.


peripheral
SOME TEACHING
TECHNIQUES
The Universal Declaration of Human
Rights
IDENTIFYING WORDS
WE KNOW
Lexical Sets
A cluster or group of related words
Words can be related in several ways
By topic: furniture, clothes, family
relationships
 In pairs – opposites: hot/cold, old/new
 In pairs – synonyms: slip/slide,
booklet/brochure
 By superordinate: FRUIT
 Hyponym of FRUIT: orange, apple, banana,
kiwi
 Word families: paint, painter, painting


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Things that are cold
Things that are boring
Opposites
Example:
hot/cold
old/new
Word families
KNOW: knowledge, knowing, known, knowledgeable
ACCURATE
FRIEND
POLITE
HAPPY
Adjectives
beautiful
Phrasal verbs
get up
Idioms
piece of cake
brainstorm
Why are lexical sets important?
We probably don’t store words in our
brain in alphabetical order like a
dictionary does.
 Memory: We apparently store words in or
brain in groups of related words (or
lexical sets)
 If a new word can be “hooked’ to words
which are already stored, it might be
easier to remember it
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Word Associations
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Cough
Grass
Red
Salt
Puppy
coffee
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Blue
Pepper
Tea
Kitten
Sneeze
Green
Connect the matching
words
Collocations – words that cooccur with high frequency
Grammatical
 Reason for
 Account for
 Rely on
 By accident
 In retrospect
Lexical
 Spend money
 Inflict a wound
 Dense fog
 Deeply absorbed
 Dead fatigued?
Thematically related
VOCABULARY
DEVELOPMENT
STRATEGIES
Extensive ((joyful) reading

Read constantly! The more you see new
words used in context, the more you will
be able to recognize, spell and use them.
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Is one way to become familiar with lowfrequency words
Using Context
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To guess words in context, one must know
95% of the words in the text, i.e. 19 out of
20 words.
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Knowing 98% (one unknown word in 50) is
considered an “independent reading level”
Since there is no time like the present, he
thought it was time to present the present.
(Laufer, 1989; Nation & Waring, 1997)
Prefixes and Root words
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Many academic words have Latin or Greek roots so if
you understand the prefix and root meaning, you can
often guess the word meaning.
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For example:
Sub = under
Marine = water
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Submarine = a boat that can dive under the ocean
Word Building
Selective Dictionary Use
Do I need the word? Can I understand the text
without it? Is it a word I may find valuable later?
2. Does the context help?
3. Do the word parts help?
4. Does it help to pronounce it? Does it sound like
a word that I know?
1.
http://www.thefreedictionary.com
http://www.dictionary.com
Academic Vocabulary

Academic vocabulary must be taught simply
because it does not occur in daily interactions
and conversational exchanges
Academic Word List (most frequent university academic
words across several disciplines)
http://www.victoria.ac.nz/lals/resources/academicwordlis
t/
Practice with Academic Words
Accurate
Attach
Analyze
Conclude
Reluctant
Define
Display
Economy
Emphasis
Estimate
Injure
Predict
Rational
Relax
Relevant
Find your match
Effective Strategies
 SPACED
REPETITION
◦ Review words learned 2 weeks ago, 1 week ago, 2
days ago, yesterday
 REVIEW
REVIEW
 FLASHCARDS
FLASHCARDS
FLASHCARDS
REVIEW
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Convincing students to be independent
learners, responsible for their own
vocabulary learning represents the single
most effective teaching strategy.
(Hinkle, Tesol 2009)
VOCABULARY WEBSITES
Vocabulary Activities
Learning vocabulary can be fun
http://www.vocabulary.co.il/
200 vocabulary exercises
http://web2.uvcs.uvic.ca/elc/studyzone/200/vocab/index.htm
Interactive vocabulary games
http://pbskids.org/arthur/games/unmatching/index.html
http://esl.fis.edu/vocab/index-fp.htm
Interactive puzzles
http://vlc.polyu.edu.hk/XWord/xword.htm
Dictionary.com
http://dictionary.reference.com/
VOCABULARY ACTIVITIES
Vocabulary quizzes/activities
http://www.geocities.com/pccprep/qz.htm#vocab
Interactive vocabulary matching exercises
http://www.eslbears.homestead.com/matching.html
Vocabulary and grammar activities
http://english-zone.com/index.php
Vocabulary and other activities for young learners
http://www.abcteach.com/sitemap.htm
Vocabulary website from Ohio University
http://www.ohiou.edu/esl/english/vocabulary.html
Word Lists & Frequency Lists
General Service Word List (most
frequent 2000+ words)
http://jbauman.com/aboutgsl.html
Academic Word List (most frequent
university academic words across
several disciplines)
www.vuw.ac.nz/lals/research/awl/
http://www.uefap.com/vocab/select/awl.htm
(Coxhead’s Academic Word List)
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Refererences

Crandall, J. & Bickel, B. What’s in a Word?
The Importance of Vocabulary & Some Ways to Teach It
presentation (UMBC)

Davies, P. & Pearse, E. (2006). Success in English Teaching.
Oxford.

Decarrico, J.S. (2001) Vocabulary Learning and Teaching. In
Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language, 3rd ed., edited
by M. Celce-Murcia. Heinle.

Hinkle, E. Teaching Academic Vocabulary and Helping Students
Retain It. TESOL 2009, Denver, CO.

Nation, P. (2005). Teaching Vocabulary. Asian ELT Journal

Nunan, D. (2003). Practical English Language Teaching. McGraw
Hill.

Thaine, C. (2010). Teacher Training Essentials. Cambridge

Zimmerman, C. (2009). Word Knowledge. Oxford.

Zimmerman, C. (2011). Academic Vocabulary and School Success
presented at the 2011 TESOL Academy.

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