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Numer publikacji: 36349
Dział: Języki obce

How to deal with the foreign language vocabulary in the classroom?

Testing provides a form of feedback not only for students but for teachers as well. What is more, a useful backwash effect can be provided the same way. Learners, who realise that their vocabulary learning is going to be tested, can both take this process of studying more seriously and also have the motivation for further practising vocabulary
(Thornbury, 2005: 129).
Students are not expected to produce every word ones learn. Some of them are only needed to be recognized, that is why it is essential to base the teaching on frequency and usefulness of the students’ needs. Furthermore, it should be considered what learners have to know about the taught vocabulary items, for example:
what an item means;
if it is a verb, noun or another part of the speech;
how it is pronounced and spelt;
if it follows any unpredictable grammatical patterns such as woman-women, money – uncountable noun, a word which is followed by a certain preposition, for example, responsible for;
the connotation the item may have, for instance, bachelor is thought as neutral or positive word whereas spinster is perceived as a more negative equivalent;
the situations when the word is to be used or not, it is important to determine if it is formal, neutral or informal;
how the word is associated with others, for instance, synonyms, antonyms, lexical sets;
collocations, for example, things are described in great detail not in big detail;
what the prefixes and suffixes may indicate about the meaning, for example, polite-impolite.

Moreover, it is essential to wonder how to relay the meaning of a lexical item to learners. It is possible by illustration; mime, synonyms, antonyms, gradable items, definition, translation and context. Needless to say, the teachers are expected to encourage students to learn through a game, activity, watching films, listening to songs, and reading books or newspapers
Considering the effectiveness of the learning-teaching process it is advisable to investigate a lot of aspects such as:

different learning styles, some learners prefer to see new words whereas others are satisfied with only hearing them;
the usefulness of various mnemonic techniques the best students used;
different ways of choosing words for presentations;
the influence of reading on vocabulary acquisition;
vocabulary recording strategies, deciding which of them turned out to be the most effective;
the impact of guessing-from-context, persuading students to gain the meaning from the context which is determined as useful during reading unfamiliar texts;
the influence of dictionary usage, sometimes it is necessary to take the meaning from a dictionary but teachers should instruct students how properly use them (Thornbury, 2005: 139-142).

It is claimed, that the most general kinds of testing are: the first limited response, multiple-choice completion, multiple-choice paraphrase and simple completion.
The first limited response is designed for children and beginning-level adults to avoid language skills that have not been mastered yet, for example, writing or reading. It is possible to check mastery of certain vocabulary by saying special commands such as Please show me your foot or Please open your mouth, or by using nonverbal physical responses, for instance, Draw a boy behind a chair or Draw an elephant next to the three. Another task can be connected with a set of pictures and the choice of the correct one on the basis of the simple sentence such as My friend has got black hair. Obviously, it is feasible to use visuals and objects with not only beginners but also with more advanced learners, for instance, a biology student could name the parts of a flower.
Multiple-choice completion is associated with context clues and sentence meaning. This type of item is constructed by deleting a word from a sentence and giving four options to choose. Only content words such as nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs have to be included in vocabulary tests. It is advisable to avoid context that is too difficult due to the fact that students should mostly focus on the given options to choose. Distractors are expected to be the same form of word as the correct answer in order not to indicate the right answer through grammatical clues. Besides, the instructions for the test ought to be brief and clear so as not to embarrass learners. The best solution is to give both oral and written commands for students at the beginning level or for ones with very little skill in English. It is sometimes necessary to explain the instruction in the native language.
Multiple-choice paraphrase is connected with the choice of the best synonym or paraphrase of the vocabulary item. Selecting the right word depends more on knowing the key word than on finding meaning in the sentence. Actually, the context may simply show that the word is a noun, for example:

He eats a lot of vegetables.

A) apples B) oranges C) potatoes D) grapes
* C is correct.

Distractors should not be close in meaning owing to the fact that students can easily eliminate them and give the right answer from wrong reason, for instance:

His regret was great indeed.

A) sadness B) wealth C) power D) strength

* A is correct. Since power and strength are quite close in meaning, a learner may decide to select one of the first two.

Simple completion relies on filling in missing parts of words, usually prefixes and suffixes, that appear in sentences, for example: My teacher is very strict, or supplying missing syllables of any kind such as the ship in friendship. It is advisable to put examples on the exam for students who have not done simple-completion items before. Word formation and compounds are used as the alternate forms of the simple completion, for instance:

Ann has got a beautiful cat. (beauty)
She couldn’t shut the door to the clothes closet in her bedroom
(Madsen, 1983: 12-30).

Needless to say, a vocabulary teacher plays an incredibly important role in the process of teaching-learning. A tutor can be both the source of the vocabulary input and also the adviser, whose task is to show different ways of memorising and presenting new words in an accessible way. Nowadays, it is worth recommending to teachers the multimedia application Insta.ling, which is extremely popular among students. It teaches pronunciation, the correct use of words in a sentence and above all, systematicity, which is so valid when learning words.

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