LG 637

LG 637
Standard view of language as structure and
words; The Lexical Approach proposes that
language consists of chunks which produce
continuous coherent text in combination. 4
basic different kinds of chunks. One is single
words while the others are multi-word. There
Fixed Expressions
Semi-Fixed Expressions
What is Lexis?
Found and explained in dictionaries. Words
which stand alone, OPEN/CERTAINLY are
lexical items, as are words were a single
substitution produces a new meaning I like
DOGS/CATS. The largest item in the lexicon.
Much of the lexicon consists of multi-word
items; items may occur in non-reversible
combinations such as bread and butter, fish
and chips…these are arbitrary combinations,
or polywords.
Certain words co-occur in natural text with
greater than random frequency. Most
collocations as partnerships in which a
certain slot may be filled by a partner word
or limited number of partner words. Fixed
idioms: Only one way to complete..To pull
the ….over my eyes/ the tail wagging
the……./ There are many more phrases, while
not fully fixed, are likely to be completed in a
small number of ways…. A bar of…./we had a
Language teaching recognises and uses
certain types of fixed expressions. Some
are fully fixed and others have slots that
receive a choice of words, usually limited.
 Good morning//no thank you//Happy
Birthday//can you tell me the way to….
Also as idioms…storm in a teacup
Fixed expressions
Almost fixed expressions: which permit
minimal variation..//its/that’s not my
 Spoken sentences with a simple slot:
could you pass….please?
Slot is filled by a specific kind of filler. I
haven’t seen you since/for [+ time
Semi-Fixed expressions
Chomsky’s view of language was generative,
emphasising that speakers had a capacity to
create and interpret unique sentences, an
infinite range of possibilities, never produced
or previously heard, the Lexical Approach
holds that only a minority of spoken
sentences are entirely new creations, that
multiword units or chunks, memorised
patterns form a high proportion of the fluent
stretches of speech used in everyday
A More General Approach
Collocation is also important in lexical theories of
language, referring to the regular occurrence
together of words. i.e.
DO….my hair/the cooking/the laundry/my work
MAKE…my bed/a promise/coffee/a meal.
Many other lexical units occur in language, such
Binomials: clean and tidy, back and front..
Trinomials cool, calm, and collected..
IDIOMS dead drunk, to run up a bill.,
CONNECTIVES. Finally, to conclude
The Theory of Language in The
Lexical Approach.
Collins Cobuild English course represent an ambitious
attempt to realise a syllabus and accompanying
materials based on a lexical rather than grammatical
principles. It was not a commercial success. Willis
notes that the computer analyses of texts indicates
that the most frequent 700 words of English account
for around 70% of all English text.
It was decided that word frequency would decide the
course content. Level 1 would aim to cover the most
frequent 700 words of the language
The use of activities that typically draw learners
attention to lexical collocations and seek to enhance
their retention and use of collocations. Teachers could
re-examine their coursebooks for collocations, adding
exercise that focus on lexical phrases. They should
develop activities that allow learners to discover
collocations for themselves both in the classroom and
in the language they encounter outside of the
classroom. Teaching students to teach themselves is
aimed at. Collocation is mainly a matter of noticing
and recording, so that trained students should be
able to explore texts for themselves
The single most formidable task for the learner is
mastering a sufficiently large lexicon. English,
with its combination of German and romance
source lexicons, may be a particular problem.
Moderately competent users of English must
have a good knowledge of the 2000 most
common words. The next thousand are met
comparatively infrequently, but are essential for
intermediate level comprehension. Any
specialised use requires another substantial
vocabulary. For example several hundred words
are essential for university students to function
in an academic environment
Don’t worry if you don’t understand everything when listening or reading,
a lot of listening/reading, partially understood, will help you much more
than a small quantity where you understood every single word.
Don’t worry about confusion and mistakes, they are a positive sign that
you partly understand, not a negative one that you didn’t understand
Sometimes grammar mistakes are made through not knowing enough
vocabulary: if you want to avoid grammar mistakes, building your
vocabulary will help you moiré than lots of grammar practise.
Try to learn whole expressions containing useful words, rather than just
the words alone, even though that seems much more difficult.
When you record a new lexical pattern/item in your notebook, consciously
try to think of other examples similar to those of the patter. It is not
wasting time to explore certain words slowly and carefully.
Modern dictionaries provide good descriptions and are
excellent at helping learners de-code meaning rather
than translate. Simple dictionaries may assume
synonymy of meaning rather than similarity, someone
word is f defined by giving another with the ‘same ‘
meaning. So many dictionaries assume that one word
may be defined through other words. A better way of
looking at meaning between two words of similar
meaning may be precisely by looking at their different
collocational profiles. A more useful kind of dictionary
would include lists of collocates to supplement the
traditional definition.
The lexical approach is not purely that language consists of
prefabricated, prebuilt items, but that much more language
than we have previously thought is stored and produced in
this way. The lexical approach is far from language being
the product of the Application of rules, most language is
acquired lexically, then broken down, and then may be reassembled in potentially new combinations. This suggests
we need to make changes to the kind of input, particularly
in the early stages of learning, which will be most
appropriate and useful in helping learners develop the
ability to produce novel language on the basis of what is
initially memorised as lexical intake.
Much language is acquired and remembered
lexically. After several meetings a lexical item
is incorporated into the learners’ lexicons.
With a sufficiently large lexicon they break
lexical items into pieces and gradually
develop awareness of the possibilities of recombining parts into new combinations,
prefabricated lexis is the basis for analysis
and later novel re-synthesis. This is
essentially a holistic view which integrates
lexis and grammar.
Lewis, M. 2000. Teaching Collocation: Further Developments in the
Lexical Approach. LTP.
Hill, J. & Lewis, M. 1998. The LTP Dictionary of Selected Collocations. LTP.
Nattinger, J. & DeCarrico. 1992. Lexical Phrases and Language Teaching.
Bahns, J.1993. Lexical Collocations: A Contrastive View. ELT Journal.
Lewis, M. 1993. The Lexical Approach: A Way Forward. LTP Press.
Lewis, M. 1997. Implementing The Lexical Approach. LTP Press.

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