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Numer publikacji: 26545
Dział: Języki obce

Teaching english vocabulary

TABLE OF CONTENT
INTRODUCTION. The importance of vocabulary teaching........................................3
Chapter 1. The teaching process........................................4
1.1. What should be included in vocabulary teaching ........................................4
1.2. Chosen methods of vocabulary teaching at the beginner level........................................6
2.Chapter 2. Vocabulary teaching in practice........................................8
CONCLUSION........................................10
Bibliography........................................11

INTRODUCTION. The importance of vocabulary teaching.
"Without grammar very little can be conveyed; without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed." (Wilkins 1972:111)
One 's vocabulary can be defined as the set of words within one’s native or foreign language that are familiar to the speaker. Undoubtedly, vocabulary is a fundamental tool for communication and acquiring knowledge which evolves with age. One of the most challenging things in learning a second language is acquiring and memorizing certain amount of words that makes communication fluent.
Vocabulary growth is a complex process. It begins when infants hear words and try to mimic them, eventually associating them with objects and actions. This stage is called listening vocabulary. The next step is speaking vocabulary as a child's thoughts become more reliant on its ability to express itself without gestures and mere sounds. Then follows the first stage- reading and writing vocabularies which are attained through questions and education.
An average child enters elementary school with a recognition vocabulary of 2,000 words. By the age of seven reaches 7,000 words, and by 14 the child should be able to recognize 14,000 words. The vocabulary of adults has been variously estimated at between 10,000 for a non-academic adult to upwards of 80,000 for a professional scientist. College students are estimated to understand some 60,000 to 100,000. An average English speaking person on telephone makes use of a vocabulary of only 2000 words.

These numbers show the importance of teaching vocabulary in the process of foreign language learning. Vocabulary is vital because it appears in every skill of language: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Limited vocabulary causes difficulties in every area of communication.

Obviously this project is not meant to cover all aspects of vocabulary teaching. The author is going to present only some chosen and particular problems connected with the topic above.  
Chapter 1. The teaching process.

The concept of teaching is understood as a process that is inseparably bound up with learning. The process of teaching a foreign language is a complex one. It presents, practices and tests. It also corresponds to strategies used by many good learners who are trying to acquire foreign language on their own. Students make sure they perceive and understand new language by paying attention, constructing meanings, formulating rules or hypothesis. They make effort to learn by mental rehearsal of items, they check themselves by getting feedbacks and being corrected. The teacher’s job is to promote three learning processes: presenting and explaining new material, providing practice and testing. Teacher presents new material, explains it to students to make it clear, gives practice to consolidate the knowledge, tests and checks what is assimilated and what still has to be reviewed. The teacher can provide a framework for organized and conscious learning to make children more interested with learning foreign languages, not only by repeating vocabulary and training grammar structures in the classroom.

1.1. What should be included in vocabulary teaching

Vocabulary instruction focused only on having students look up word meaning and memorize them provides only superficial and short- term learning of words. Students who simply memorize word meaning frequently have trouble applying the information in definitions and often make mistakes about the meaning. In order to be effective and successful in vocabulary teaching the teacher must present not only a word itself but also all aspects that follow.
• Meaning.
a) Denotation, connotation, appropriateness.
Denotation refers to the meaning of a word in the real world. This is the kind of definition that can be found in dictionaries, for example the word cat describes “small furry animal with four legs and a tail”.
Every word have different connotations depending on the context they may occur in. For example the word dog has very positive connotations in European culture. Most people would describe a dog as a faithful, friendly, brave animal. Noticeably the same word has a very negative connotation in Arabic culture. Most Arabs associate a dog with dirt and inferiority.
A good teacher must also explain whether a particular word is the appropriate one to use in a certain context or not. For example some words are more suitable for formal than informal discourse and the opposite. Learners must know that it would be improper to start a formal letter with Hi instead of Dear Sir or Madam.
b) Meaning relationships.
It is also very useful to present a new item in a relation to the meaning of others. Here are some of such relationships:
- Synonyms, items that mean the same or almost the same (dull and stupid)
- Antonyms, items that have the opposite meaning (hot and cold)
- Hyponyms, items that represent general concept (plants- trees, flowers, vegetables)
- Superordinates, general concept that covers specific items (animal is the superordinate of a dog, lion, mouse).

• Form: pronunciation and spelling.
The teacher must present the shape of the word (spelling) and the sound of the word (pronunciation).
• Grammar.
Presenting new grammar items should be taught also by connecting words with other vocabulary in sentences. When teaching a new verb the teacher may give a past form, when teaching a noun, he may present a plural form of a given word.

• Collocation.
We can describe collocation as the word combinations. This makes a particular combination sound right or wrong in a given context. For example we used to say throw a ball but toss a coin. To say throw a coin you would change a meaning of a combination and sound rather odd.

1.2. Chosen methods of vocabulary teaching at the beginner level.

Foreign language teaching naturally includes methodology. Method is a practical realisation of an approach. They include various techniques and procedures as a part of their standards.
Because of limitations of this project the author is going to present only chosen methods of presenting the new vocabulary to the learners at the elementary level.
Total Physical Response

TPR is a method developed by Dr. James J. Asher to aid learning second languages. The method relies on the assumption that when learning a second or additional language, language is internalized through a process of code breaking similar to first language development. That the process allows for a long period to listen and develop comprehension prior of production. Students respond to commands that require physical movement.

Realia.
This method is based on using real objects in the classroom. This might help a teacher to make the meaning of word clear (a postcard, a ball). The teacher may also use classroom environment to present new vocabulary. Things in the classroom can also be “touched“, as it is important to engage more senses into a learning process. Realia is a vital part in presenting vocabulary at the beginners level, where pupils learn words, using concrets.

Picture.
Pictures are very useful in language teaching because they may be used in different ways. These are pictures, blackboard drawings, wall pictures, charts, photos from magazines. They can be used to explain the meaning of words or to create a situation and concept.

Mime, action and gesture.
This technique is useful for explanation of the actions and grammar items. Such concepts as: jumping, smoking or the words “from, on, to“ are easy items to explain through performing those actions. Mime, action is a great fun for children who like acting and moving very much.

Contrast.
This method shows the similarities and differences between persons, ideas and things. For example good and bad, black and white etc.

Enumeration.
This technique helps when any word is difficult to explain visually. For example we can say
‘clothes’ and explain this by enumerating or listing various items. That will make the meaning of the word clear.

Definition.

This method is suitable for upper-beginners and relies on giving the definition of given word. This is a good method in mobilization of students to the usage of dictionaries.

Polish equivalent
In this method the teacher gives the translation of given word in the national language. The translation is the quickest way of explanation and demonstrating a new word.

Chapter 2. Vocabulary teaching in practice.

In my final thesis I have decided to focus on teaching English vocabulary to young learners aged 7. I would like to enclose a lesson plan and also reflect on some observations from the theoretical part. I tried out all the activities described here during my teacher´s career.
It is evident that some learners have been learning the English language for several years, some have just started. The group of pupils I gave a lesson to uses the course book “Bingo!”. Most of the pupils started learning English in the 1st grade, some started in the kindergarten. All the activities reflect the level of the learners, their age and their abilities. I tried to use English in the class as much as possible and I wanted to get learners reactions in English too, if possible. I have to admit that it is a lot of fun to teach children, they do not have almost any troubles with motivation and they still want to learn.

Topic: Colours

Aims:
- to get to know the learners´ favourite colours, to get to know how they feel about colours
- the learners remind names of the colours
- to revise some basic terminology and find out what the learners know
- after the lesson the learners will know at least 7 new words including the word rainbow

Aids:
- pictures, a colour poster, pieces of paper, a story book, colour pencils, picture of rainbow, colour chalk

Assumptions:
- learners probably already know the colours
- they are ready to play
- colour dictation should be easy and fun for them

1. Talking about colours: I say several words and you tell me what I am speaking about. We will do it as a game called “silent post”. The very first person who knows the answer will tell this to me and then we will pass it to others, whispering. The last person says that out loud.
2. I ask them some questions: Do you know any colours? Which one is your favourite? I am telling a story about rainbow (while we are talking, I put the poster on the wall. Every time I call out some colour, I take a colour chalk and draw a big circle on the board. I also point out to the right colour on the poster.)
3. Working with “colours”: Students take their exercise books and they compare what I draw on the board with the picture in the book. I ask them to do the same. But to each colour I ask them to write down the name of it.
4.I ask pupils to take a dictation. I say: “Weź yellow i narysuj słońce. Potem weź black i narysuj three birds.”
5. Summary: After the learners have finished their drawings, they swap the drawings with their partners and we check it together. Usually they do really well and are happy they were successful with their “dictation”. At the end of the lesson we play a game. I ask if they can see this classroom is full of colours. I tell them to shout out a name of the colour and they must run to touch this colour. They can touch a chair, a blackboard, a friend´s trousers, anything. After some minutes the learners get back to their seats and we repeat all the colours once more.

Evaluation:
This lesson is designed for 1st grade learners. I expected that most of the learners already knew names of the colours. Therefore this lesson can not be boring so that even these children would be able to be active. Again, in this lesson I used one of the visual methods and also Total Physical Response. The learners can hear, see and touch and later they can run in the classrooms. I think using TPR is very productive and learners can learn and remember it better. I have to be careful because the learners try to write down the names of the colours. After they have finished that, I usually check the spelling in their exercise books. This topic is quite easy and children have a lot of fun with this. This lesson can be varied in many ways.

CONCLUSION.

Understanding the personality of a young learner plays an important role in effective teaching, one of the subjects of this thesis is to show the characteristics of a young learner. Another subject of this thesis is the vocabulary itself – how it can be presented, taught, also what should be taught. There are mentioned some methods and approaches that can be used in
the lessons.
In the Practical Part I presented a lesson plan. This lesson draft focuses on using different methods while teaching vocabulary to young learners. Every activity mentioned in the lesson plans was tried out during my teacher´s profession.
Students need to be motivated to learn vocabulary constantly, it is important that vocabulary review is as interesting as possible. Teachers can vary the types of exercises, strategies and activities. The visual element is equally important.


Bibliography

Ur Penny, A Course in Language Teaching, Cambridge University Press 1991.
Jack C. Richards, The Role of Vocabulary Teaching, TESOL Quarterly, Vol. 10, No. 1. (March, 1976).
Harmer Jeremy, The Practice of English Language Teaching. UK: Longman, 2005.
Philips Janet (red.), Oxford Wordpower, Oxford University Press 1997.

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