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first learn the lexis and then the grammatical structures It involves memorizing and understanding the meanings AVOID mechanical memorizations

Combine the vocabulary with real life situations and encourage students to do the same The meaning is not in the words themselves but in the words as a pattern (Fries 1957) HOWEVER, there are students who enjoy and succeed in learning through memorization

Set your vocabulary goals


to achieve unassisted reading

NO MORE THAN ONE unknown word in every 50 words

Prepare a list of words and phrases that students must learn at a specific period of time and at different stages. Make sure that the words are: Frequently used in the language Easily combined Included in the topics of discussion

REMEMBER: it takes AT LEAST a year to increase vocabulary size by a thousand words The word is considered to be learned when it is spontaneously recognized while hearing and reading and it is correctly used in speech (Pavliy 2008)

Vocabulary levels

words: 80-90% of the words in

a text Academic words: for those who do academic study. 4% of the words in an academic text Technical words: for a very specific study Low-frequency words: the remaining words of the language



focused input: learning via comprehensible input through listening and reading Meaning focused output: learning through speaking and writing. The vocabulary is used in creative ways. Then the memory for these words is strengthened. Make use of retelling, rewriting, role plays, group and pair work involving negotiation. Language focused learning: involves the deliberate learning and study of vocabulary. Make use of flashcards, word parts etc. encourage dictionary use.

Vocabulary learning
Receptive Passive assimilation: Reproductive Active assimilation: Students understand the words while reading or listening Students use the words to express their thoughts either in oral or written communication

Usually receptive lexical units become reproductive BUT when the new vocabulary is infrequently used in speaking it becomes receptive Receptive assimilation involves: Analysis of phonetic structure and spelling of words Phonetic reproduction of the assimilated lexical units Reading texts containing the lexis Listening to texts containing the lexis

Work with words in a sentence


the word from context Analyze its phonetic structure Compare it with analogous phonations of other words Analyze its meaning Encourage students to use it in different contexts How? Reproducing sentences with the given word Filling the blanks Translating sentences which include the given word

Explicit work with discrete words

1. Translation of words from English to the native language The teacher says a word and the student translates it orally The teacher gives out word cards and they translate it orally The teacher dictates some words and they translate it in written form The teacher gives a Greek word and they translate it in English 2. Grouping words Assign the students to group the words into categories of their own preference Group similar looking words Group similar sounding words Find Synonyms and Antonyms and group them Group the words according to topics

The incidental teaching approach


naturalistic procedure which involves timing of occasions of instruction based on the childs spontaneous interests (Valdez-Menchaca and Whitehurst 1988) The learner initiates the interactions enhances vocabulary acquisition Especially effective for disadvantaged and developmentally disabled children as well as for children with specific expressive language delay May happen at home as well Research shows increase in spontaneous language use

Good VS poor readers

WHY? good readers derive meaning from context more easily Poor readers read less WHAT WE CAN DO Read stories to them Encourage them to read texts with varied vocabulary The texts chosen must provide contexts that help students get the word meanings Use direct instruction of vocabulary Do not focus on particular words. Make sure that teaching one word leads to the learning of other words. Teach how to get the word meaning from context

Getting word meanings from context


technique (Jenkins, Matlock, & Slocum, 1989) substitute a synonym for an unknown word Check for clues that support our choice Then accept or revise Look inside-look out technique (Herman & Weaver, 1988) Look inside an unknown word examine its parts look out for clues and examine the general mood talk-through technique The teacher uses directed question prompts like What part of speech is the word? What words around it tell us something about this word?



testing: the Vocabulary Levels Test looks at highfrequency, academic and low frequency vocabulary. Available online: Proficiency testing: measures vocabulary size and how well it is known Achievement testing Active recall : turn into water m_______ Passive recall: when something melts it turns into ______ Active recognition: Turn into water: a. elect b. melt c. blame Passive recognition: Melt: a. choose b. turn into water c.accuse

I know what this word means and can use it in a sentence.


I pretty much know what this word means.

I have heard of this word.

I have not heard of this word.

Sample of vocabulary checking activities

1. Clap if you agree: Soccer is a gentle sport. Ice cream is usually bitter. Riding a bike can be exhausting. 2. Tell about some time when something was a coincidence. 3. Which would you do if you wanted to look quickly at someone or something? Glance or gape?

4. Evasive people like to say exactly what they mean. True? False?
5. Would you be more dubious if your mother baked a cake or if your grandmother ran a marathon?

(adapted from Isabel Beck, Bringing Words to Life, 2002

Assessing Vocabulary retrieved November 3, 2012, from

Nation, P. and Chung, T. (2009). Teaching and Assessing Vocabulary. Long, M. and Doughty, C. (eds.), The Handbook of Language Teaching (pp. 543- 559). UK: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Pavliy, B. (2009). Teaching English Vocabulary. Center for Student Education Resource, 17,97-104. Stahl, S. & and Shiel, B. (1992): Teaching Meaning Vocabulary: Productive Approaches for Poor Readers, Reading & Writing Quarterly: Overcoming Learning Difficulties, 8(2), 223-241. Valdez-Menchaca and Whitehurst (1988). The Effects of Incidental Teaching on Vocabulary Acquisition by Young Children. Child Development, 59,14511459.