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The Vocabulary Notebook The Journal of Nagasaki College of Foreign Languages, No. 53, 1999, pp. 103-109

The Vocabulary Notebook The Journal of Nagasaki College of Foreign Languages, No. 53, 1999, pp. 103-109

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Published by John Spiri
Provides ideas for intentional study of vocabulary by non-native English speakers by using vocabulary notebooks. Reference is The Journal of Nagasaki College of Foreign Languages, No. 53, 1999, pp. 103-109.
Provides ideas for intentional study of vocabulary by non-native English speakers by using vocabulary notebooks. Reference is The Journal of Nagasaki College of Foreign Languages, No. 53, 1999, pp. 103-109.

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Published by: John Spiri on Sep 24, 2010
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The cabuary Notebook
John Small
words areebuldngbocks o languageacquStionAstuden's ablity toretainandusenew
vocabulary wll largely determne her success wth the target language・ Oher aspects of language
learnnggrammr, listenngetC・-arecomromsedwthou adequatevocabuary"Wthou
grammar very little can be conveyed, without vocabulary, nothing can be conveyed (Wlkins 1 1 1
qtd. in Carter and McCarthy 42)・ Before a class exercise, certain vocabulary may be defined for the
student, but a word wll only become a permanent part of the learner's vocabulary after many
exposures・ Hntentional learnlng through instruction-slgnificantly contributes to vocabulary
develpment" (Hunt and Beglar 8)・ The vocabulary notebook can provide learners wth an
accessible, Oganized mthod for acqulrlng WOds・
The steps for implementing a vocabulary notebook in a classroomcan be as follows: (1) Show
an example of a vocabulary notebook and ask students to purchase one; (2) Explain that words can
be gotten fromanywhereHprevious notebooks, other classes, other students'lists, etc・ Avoid giving
thematic word lists (eventhough many textbooks are set up this way)・ It is best for a learner to start
by learning semantically (and phonetically) unrelated words (Hunt &Beglar 8); (3) Encourage
students to self-quiz for a fewmnutes daily, or nearly every day・ "It is more effective to study
words regularly over several short sessions than to study themfor one or two longer sessions"
(Hunt & Beglar 9); (4) Use regularly in class・ Sometimes I give students just a fewmnutes to write
down or reviewwords. Oher times we do various exercises (see pp.104-107). If not used regularly
inclass studens tendtofrget tobringnoebooks; (5) Sudens canbegivenquzzes or tests that
they prepared earlier (see exercise 2 p・ 105 "Coze Procedure").
Decisions for which words are included in a student's vocabulary notebook are ideally made by
each individual student. Thus, students are prayided the atmosphere for autonomous learnlng・
students must Hind their own ways of expanding and organizing their word stores" (Carter,
McCarthy 48). To decide whether to write a newvocabulary in their notebooks, students should
consider their own level of ability, motivation, and reasons for studying English・ They should also
think about the time and energythat the new vocabulary will requlre・AsCarter and McCarthy note,
"Words should be meaningful to the leaner (45)."
The pnnciple source of newvocabulary is the students, textbook・ Thus, some vocabulary Item
will appearonthe lists of several students・ Initially I will go so far as to write difficult / useful
words on the board and encourage students to include themin their notebooks if they dont know
them but the aimis for students to eventuallly automatically wite down unknown words; laterthey
can consult dictionaries・ Also, via a vocabulary notebook, the teacher can require the leamng O
certain words useful for classroominstruction: noun verb, adjective, opposite, choose, partner, take
turns, etc.
I encourage students to write English-native language definitions: higher level students can be
encouraged to wite English-English definitions should they feel comortable. I leavethis decision
to the students.
Hunt & Beglar have identified seven principles for the teaching of vocabulary・ They are: (1)
Provide opportunities for the incidentaHearning of vocabulary (textbooks and class exercisesgenerally accomplish this naturally); (2) Diagnose which of the 3,000most common words leamers
need to study; (3) Provide opportunities for the intentional learning of vocabulary; (4) Gve
opportunities for elaborating word knowedge; (5) Provide opportunities for developing nuency
with known vocabulary; (6) Experimentwithguessing fromcontext; (7) Examne different types of
dictionaries and teach students howto usethem vocabulary notebooks and the exercises that can
be done forthe learning of each student's words, pertain to numbers (3), (4) and (5) of the above
list, all of which are examples of explicit instruction・ Teachers could also provide word lists (see
appendix 1) as a source for students to find new vocabulary.
cabuary Notebook・RelatedExercises
There is virtually no limt to the number and type of exercises that can be done with vocabulary
notebooks; there are, however, Some constraints based onthe fact that words on one learner,s list
wll not necessarily match the words on another student,s list・ This inherent problemcan be
resolved a number of ways
Exercise One: Student Self・Quiz - students cover either the native language half, 。r the
English half of their word lists and try to recall the deflnition of individual words・ This simple rote
mmrizationtechnqueis goodtostawthas mst studens arecombrabewthmmrization
(particulary Japanese students), and it can be practiced any time (like on the train). This can be
expandedtohavea studen quz a paer onher ownwords (inths waystudens alsobecom
exposedtother partner's wordlist)・ Sudyngwords inisoationis anexcelen wayfr aleaner to
greatly improve her vocabulary in a short time (Nation 126).
Exercise Two: Coze Procedure - students can make thei, own cloze. The benefits a,e
many・ Students gain fluency wth their vocabulary; vocabulary are reviewed; and the cloze
provides a future assessment / practice toolStudents need to be encouraged to write clear, specific
sentencesI For example, one student wrote: "I don't eqoy
・" (geography). The sentence
is obviously unacceptable because any number of words could fit・ Afollowup sentence is usually
helpful to clarify. For example: "I couldn't rememberthe names of cities and countries s。 I did
poorly・" Teacher coeCSall senences andevenuallygVeSbacktostudens fr anindvdualized
Students tended to rate this exercise as very useful, but not very enjoyable, in their learning logs.
Exercise 3 Picture Drawng - Studies showthat words wth an accompanying mental image
are learned and retained more readily than words wthout (Elis 554)・ In the followng exercise,
students drawvocabulary; thevisual images (the drawngs) Wll necessarily be derived frommental
images the student makes・ F0-1mg mental images as a memorization technique is an excellent
method to lean newvocabulary. (Aso, see "Keyword Technique" p 107).
Students write one・ two or three "favorite" words onthe board fromheir notebooks, wthnative
language translations so that thereare about 30 words on the board・ The concept of "favorite"
words seem strange at first, but humans have a natural affinity for words; this search for favorite
words (whchcanbe decidedbasedonthe words sound meanng, associations, O whatever)
fosters a general interest in words in the student's target language (Haramy). Native language
definitions are needed as one student's word are not necessarily onanother student,s list.
Ask students to draw pictures Of a few words for a given length of time,perhaps 5-10mnutes.
Mkeclear that studens shoudnumer eachdrawng bu not witeewordnext tothepcture
Encourage students to stretch their imaglnations and not Just drawconcrete nouns. Next, students
dspayther drawngSfr all tosee studens thencircuatearoundtheroom mrkngeach
student's name and drawng number. The student then guesses the word (fromthe board,s list)that

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