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A way with words helping students practice and retrieve vocabulary


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  • 1. A way with words: Helping students practice and retrieve vocabulary Bruna Caltabiano Martins Fontes November 8, 2013.
  • 2. ‘Without grammar, very little can be conveyed, without vocabulary, nothing can be conveyed.’ - David Wilkins
  • 3. Historical Background Direct Method/Audiolingualism Greater priority to the teaching of grammatical structures Choice of words: easily demonstrated or fitted into the ‘structure of the day’ Communicative Approach A major ‘re-think’ of the role of vocabulary Swan and Walter, 1984 – vocabulary acquisition is the largest and most important tasks facing the language learner’
  • 4. VOCABULARY, LEXIS AND GRAMMAR (Scrivener, 2005)
  • 5. Read the text and then, in pairs, define the word ‘head’ ‘Irina was fast asleep when the alarm went off. She opened her eyes with difficulty. Her head was throbbing – she had a headache; but she still had to get ready to teach at her school. After she had finished her breakfast, she put on her coat and headed to the bus stop. When she got to the staffroom, she found that all the other teachers were having a meeting about Svatislav Melaschenko, the new head of the school. They were unhappy about him because (Vlamir said) his new power had gone to his head...’ (Harmer, 2012)
  • 6. Discuss What does the word ‘head’ tell you about eliciting and teaching vocabulary? How do you decide which meaning of a word or words to introduce? Which do you prefer, teaching individual words, or collocations, idiomatic phrases and lexical chunks?
  • 7. Now watch part of an episode of Friends and describe the problem with the letter
  • 8. Some of the difficulties learners may have Functions X form Words may look/sound the same but have quite different meanings Words can have same or similar meanings but be used in different situations or for different effects Collocations (Thornbury, 2002)
  • 9. How do I select vocabulary items to teach? Most frequent and useful items Useful websites: (Ur, 2012)
  • 10. / How to use the website
  • 11. Source: Top Notch Fundamentals
  • 12. Source: Top Notch Fundamentals
  • 13. Source: The New York Times
  • 14. Source: The New York Times
  • 15. How to present vocabulary Those are some common techniques. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Discuss: Demonstration Realia / pictures Translation Antonym/Synonym Definition Association Linguistic Context (Ur, 2012)
  • 16. How would you present the following groups of words? Discuss punch / slap / smack / hit / kick witch / castle / heroine / cruel / brave / cast a spell classical / folk / jazz / pop / ethnic doctor / accountant / engineer / social worker / lawyer promote / resign / retire / lay off / give the sack woollen / cotton / nylon / leather / plastic (Thornbury, 2002)
  • 17. The four aspects involved in remembering (Scrivener, 2005)
  • 18. How do students remember words? 1. Arousal and affect (A&A) 2. Cognitive Engagement (CE) 3. Retrieval and Use (R&U) 4. Repetition of Encounter: meeting words again and again (RofE) (Harmer, 2012) Students need to re-encounter a word between six and sixteen times in order to remember it! (Ur, 2012)
  • 19. Some suggestions: 1.The lexical item list (CE) Lexical Item Pronunciation Translation Grammar Collocations Example Idea (Scrivener, 2005)
  • 20. 2.Word Web -Memory map or mind map (R&U) (Scrivener, 2005; Harmer, 2012)
  • 21. Another example of a Word Web
  • 22. 3. Collocations and Chunks (CE) There was a terrible jam around the ring road. traffic lights. warden The is really heavy today. What’s holding up the ? (Scrivener, 2005)
  • 23. 4. Lexical Item Collector (CE) (Scrivener, 2005)
  • 24. 5. Desert Island words (A&A, RofE) Students look at a list of the words and phrases they have studied. They can be asked which five words they would take with them to a desert island and why. Also, they can put in the fridge (they’ll keep them for later), the dustbin (they don’t need the words), or their suitcase (they want to use them now) (Harmer, 2012)
  • 25. 6. Odd one out (CE, RofE) Give students groups of words and ask them to decide which is the odd one out airplane, bicycle, bus, car, train (Harmer, 2012)
  • 26. 7. Storytelling (R&U) Give students a list of 10 words (or any other number). They have to use five (or any other number) in a story. They might prepare the stories in groups and then one group tells another and this group retells. The stories will be told a few times. (Harmer, 2012)
  • 27. 8. Information Gap (Ex. Describing people) (RofE) Students look at the same picture but student A has some of the names behind the picture and student B has the other names. Students have to find out which of the following names apply to which of the numbered people. (Harmer, 2007)
  • 28. 9. Recall and Share (CE) Write up on the board in a ‘scatter’ about ten or twelve words that you want to review. Tell students they have half a minute to ‘photograph’ the words. Erase the words and ask them to write down as many words as they remember. Join students in twos or threes and see if they can manage to remember all the words. (Ur, 2012)
  • 29. 10. True or False (A&A) Write up on the board ten or twelve items that you want to review in a ‘scatter’ Each student chooses any one of the items and writes down two sentences in which he or she relates in someway to himor herself. One sentence must be true and the other false. The other students will guess with is true and which is false (Ur, 2012)
  • 30. 11. Would you make a good witness? (RofE) It can be used with different kinds of pictures, containing people, clothes, food, etc Show the picture to class for twenty seconds and students ask each other what they remember about the picture Ex: What were they wearing? How old were they? What did they look like? (Wright et al, 2006)
  • 31. Some other ideas Record lexical items in useful ways Revisit lexical item pages Collect lexical items Sort and classify items Chunk and collocation spotting Redesign your pages When an error comes up, review a range of collocations
  • 32. Record real language Challenge students to upgrade language Give collocations rather than definitions Quick choices Guess the collocation Chunk watching (Scrivener, 2005)
  • 33. Vocabulary Games Word Clap Categories Noughts and crosses Coffeepot Back to board Pictionary Spelling race (Thornbury, 2002)
  • 34. Using Dictionaries Discuss: Do your students use dictionaries? Is using dictionaries part of the classroom work? What are the advantages and disadvantages of allowing your students to use dictionaries? Have you ever had students who overused them? How did you deal with this situation? (Harmer, 2007; Ur, 2012)
  • 35. ‘Vocabulary cannot be taught. It can be presented, explained, included in all kinds of activities, and experienced in all manners of associations... But utlimately it is learned by the individual. As language teachers, we must arouse interest in words and a certain excitment in personal development in this area... We can help our students by giving them ideas on how to learn, but each will finally learn in a very personal selection of items, organized into relationships in an individual way.’ (Wilga Rivers – in: Thornbury, 2002)
  • 36. Strategies that successful learners use They pay attention to form They pay attention to the meaning They are good guessers They take risks They know how to organize their own learning – keeping a record of new words, using dictionaries, memorizing techniques, among others. (Thornbury, 2002)
  • 37. BIBLIOGRAPHY Harmer, Jeremy. The Practice of English Language Teaching. Essex: Pearson Education Limited, 2007. Harmer, Jeremy. Essential Teacher Knowledge. Essex: Pearson Education Limited, 2012 Scrivener, Jim. Learning Teaching. Oxford: Macmillan Education, 2005. Thornbury, Scott. How to Teach Vocabulary. Essex: Pearson Education Limited, 2002. Ur, Penny. Vocabulary Activities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
  • 38. BIBLIOGRAPHY Wright, Andrew; Betteridge, David; Buckby, Michael. Games for Language Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. WEBSITES
  • 39. caltabiano.idiomas @caltabianoidio1