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How We Know a Word

What are the difficulties in using synonyms to explain vocabulary when working with
Why is it important to be clear in your own mind on the denotation and connotation of
a word before you teach it?
Suppose your student told you his/her (correct) choice of a word was based on a
decision that it just "sounded right". Would you confirm for the student that this is a
valid reason to use the word, or would you ask for a more logical explanation?
Prepare a list of 10 common collocations. (Do not use the examples in the module.)

When teaching beginners new vocabulary it is sometimes difficult to use a synonym, as this can also
be a new word for the student. Instead of resorting to their first language to explain the new
vocabulary it may be more memorable if you can mime the meaning of the word, or show or draw a
picture to illustrate the meaning.

It is important to clear in your own mind of the denotation and connotation of a word before you teach
it. This is so that you can explain the different meaning the word has with respect to different
contexts. How the connotation of the word can be positive, neutral or negative with regard to its

If a student responded to me that their choice of word was based on a decision that it just “sounded
right”. I would accept that this is the case with regard to some phrases that are most commonly used
together. It may be that these phrases are used more often because they are more easily spoken, or as
the student put it “sound right”. I would also explain that this is technically called collocation in

Some examples of common collocations are:

1. Utter nonsense

2. Perform surgery

3. Wreak havoc

4. Splendid idea

5. Spark criticism

6. Cast blame

7. Heavy losses

8. Readily available

9. Narrow margin

10. Serious doubt