(+/- 2mins) Communication breakdown! What does this sign mean? What has gone wrong? Why? We recognise all the words, but can infer no meaning from the sentence. Grammatically, it’s not bad. The word order is more or less correct. The modal verb can is used correctly. This is the reason vocabulary is so important – vocabulary mistakes are far more likely to cause communication breakdown than grammatical mistakes. This is not to say that grammar isn’t also important, it most definitely is, but a good vocabulary can certainly make students far more communicative than knowing lots of grammar ever will.
(+/-3mins) Look at the words in the box and discuss briefly which they consider to be vocabulary and which not. The answer is that all are vocabulary really… Vocabulary doesn’t just mean individual items anymore…there are a lot of chunks or set phrases that are better learned as a single item. People now often refer to this as lexis. The term vocabulary has an association of individual items for most people, but over the past few years it has been established that learning individual items isn’t entirely effective. Students can ‘know’ whole lists of words, being able to ‘spout’ the list from beginning to end…but not actually being able to use the words on the list to do anything with them. This is similar to a child learning to count or say the alphabet…they can go ‘12345… or abcdefg…etc but if you show them a number of letter in isolation they can struggle to identify it, often having to run through the list in their heads to be able to say it (e.g. you show them the letter f and they have to go abcde..oh it’s f). Looking at the examples here, if we take, ‘make up your mind’ – the individual words mean one thing, but the words combined mean something else, there’s no point in teaching the individual items and then trying to work it out from there, far better working with it as a ‘fixed expression’ or chunk of language. Having now clarified what we’re talking about when we say ‘vocabulary’ we can focus more closely on what it is students need to know to really know a word or lexical item and how to best help them with that in the classroom.
Aim: to establish what we need to think of to teach a word. Ask participants what staggered means and elicit some replies. Hopefully you will get more than one definition. It can mean amazed, or walk with difficulty or started at different times, or not straight. This shows us we need to have a context. Next we need to think about what we need to teach, the meaning we want, but more, Point out what students will need to know How to say it – pronunciation the double g or the ed might cause problems How it fits into a sentence – He staggered the street is wrong, it needs a preposition How to spell it – the double g If teachers are good enough maybe mention Part of speech – a verb What it doesn’t mean – although it is a synonym for walk it cannot be replaced with stroll for example Hidden meaning - the connotation for this is drunk or injured Ask participants how many times a student needs to come across a word to truly know it – answer is around 7
(+/- 2mins) Invite participants to say the sentence. Agree that it’s very difficult without a model, phonetic script, etc. Hide the text. Ask participants to say the sentence or name any of the places. Hopefully it will be difficult. Not being able to pronounce a word will hinder students’ ability to process the information and remember the word, even if they know its meaning. By recording all reading texts, Aim High focuses on pronunciation at the same time as meaning ensuring that the first time a word is encountered it is also pronounced. Let’s get back to the reading task.
(+/- 3mins) Now that we’ve established what we mean when talking about vocabulary, let’s look at the different things students need to know in order for that vocabulary to become active and truly accessible to them. You could choose to illustrate this point by (badly) teaching them a word in a foreign language (or a made up word), ideally not a straight-forward noun. Just say the word and then get the participants to repeat it. Ask them if they now know that word and if they feel they’re ready to use it – the answer will of course be no – this is an extreme example as you haven’t even provided the meaning of the word. So you could now provide the meaning (over simplified), then ask the participants if they would now feel ready and able to use the word…hopefully they still say no! The point being that you need to do/know far more than simply hear and say the word to truly know the word. Now ask them to look at the diagram here and discuss what each letter stands for (should be pretty straight-forward)….each represents something students need to know in order to really know a word or lexical item. M = Meaning F = Form P = Pronunciation Let’s now look at each of them in a little more detail, starting with meaning as meaning should come first – looking at the form or pronunciation of a word without knowing what it means, makes it extremely abstract and of course meaningless – it’s just a bunch of letters/sounds that they are repeating because you’ve told them to. So meaning….
(+/-5mins) Have a look at these pages from Aim High SB2. This is a reading text. HANDOUT pps66-67 Ask: What’s the first thing that we should do? Elicit answers then go through and do these things with the group: Look at the pictures and think about the what the text will be about. Brainstorm all the vocabulary we know about the topic Talk about what is happening in the pictures. Talk about anything else we know about the topic. Why? To create a context, a situation for vocab to sit in, making it more meaningful To activate any previous knowledge of the topic which will help our understanding To bring our personal experience of the topic, which will make it more real and memorable Visuals were used here to set context, but text can also be used (spoken or written), different kinds of pictures/tasks can also be used… NOTE: if an IWB is available, show the activity on this. Use the zoom to focus on pictures and use IWB pens to write on key vocab. Students now have a context and are ready to read.
Not a very exciting slide. So why show it? It’s here to illustrate an important point about Aim High. [If iTools is available, again use it to play a short excerpt of the recording.] Every reading text in the book has been recorded. Why is this? As we said earlier, learning a word means knowing how to say it. In English, pronunciation can be especially difficult because English spelling is so irregular. Let’s look at an example sentence.
Aim: to draw together what has been covered so far and to set up the next part of the session. Display the screen, and explain that we will look at each of these in the context of a lesson from Aim High
Aim: to show how words are contextualisesd Point out the words are in context, the students are asked to show comprehension of the text without worrying about the meanings of the words. This exposure to the language without the pressure of studying it is useful for the students as we shall see in the second session. The students are going from a global understanding to being ready start thinking about more specific meaning. So now we are ready for the meaning
(-/+5mins) After reading and listening they are then asked to quickly read the text to compare their predictions. Following on from this there are a couple of other tasks (true/false and open-ended questions). The students are therefore familiar with the text and have a clear context for the vocabulary task to follow. The vocabulary being focused on also comes from the text and the task itself refers students back to the text….reinforcing that link and encouraging them to see and work with the language in its context, not simply as individual, stand alone items. Key vocabulary is always highlighted in Aim High to make it easier for students to find new words. Let’s have a look at the vocab task together. Even though you haven’t read the article, I hope your knowledge of the subject has been activated. 2 minutes. Elicit a few answers. Move on if everyone is confident with this. Once definitions of the key words are clear, the last activity always checks on some of the other words in the text. This is a good opportunity to see which students are on the ball and which need to do some vocab work. Encourage them to use their dictionaries here. (More on that later). This activity can be done on iTools. If iTools is available, please show an example of this activity from there.
Now, all this vocabulary has been passively learned and swirling round our students’ heads. What we need to do now is get them thinking about it, and using it actively.
(+/- 2mins) In order to really learn vocabulary it’s important that students know how to use it in different contexts. In Aim High, the vocabulary taught in reading lessons is then focused on in the next lesson. ACTIVATE First of all, students use the vocabulary in a new context. It also requires them to manipulate the form (changing a verb tense, changing a noun to singular/plural). So, now, students are thinking in terms of meaning and form. Of course, using the vocab twice isn’t going to guarantee they will remember it, but it will increase their confidence in how to use the word. EXTEND Students have now read these words, inferred meaning from context, matched definitions and finally activated their knowledge in a new context. It’s now time to extend that knowledge. It’s a great way for students to expand their vocabulary by seeing connections between words and by manipulating the form. Let’s have a look at an example.
(+/-4 mins) Extending vocabulary can really help students use the word more effectively and learn more related vocab. Let’s take a look at how we can do this with the word ‘danger’. Work in pairs. Discuss all the different ways you can extend vocabulary. Think about both meaning and form. Elicit a few ideas then reveal: Spelling – Plural/singular forms Word building – adjectives, adverbs, verbs, etc. Uses/grammar – count/uncount nouns, prepositions, collocations Synonyms/antonyms It won’t be necessary to focus on all these aspects, but when introducing new vocabulary ask yourself what the students will need to know (other than the word itself) to be able to use it to communicate. Let’s have a look at some examples from Aim High.
(+/-2 mins) iTOOLS – If available, use iTools to present these activities. And encourage participants to come to the IWB and fill in answers using the pens. If not available, use these slides. Here are a selection of activities from the Extension part in both SB2 and SB3. What are these activities practising? Elicit: Word building/transformation Collocations Idiomatic expressions Phrasal verbs Let’s have a look at one more closely.
(+/-5 mins) In pairs. Match the expressions with their definitions. Elicit answers. Now, in order for vocabulary to stick, it’s really important to personalise vocabulary wherever possible. In pairs, choose 2 expressions. Think of a time when you have done this thing. Make sure you can answer these questions about it: When? Where? With whom? How? Why? What happened? 3 minutes. Elicit some feedback. This sort of activity can be done throughout the course to practise, activate and help students memorise vocabulary.
(+/-5 mins) The student’s CD-ROM also provides plenty of opportunity to practise vocabulary. Let’s have a look at some examples. Open CD-ROM and show examples above. Don’t just use the screenshots here! The activities practise the following: Aim High 2, Unit 4, Skills, activity 2 – Wordsearch To practise spelling Aim High 2, Unit 2, Vocab, activity 1 – Crossword To practise spelling, meaning Aim High 2, Unit 9, Skills, activity 2 To practise meaning Aim High 2, Unit 1, Skills, activity 3 To practise meaning, word-building CLICK on the Wordlist when in these activities. Show that the vocab is presented in context and all the target vocabulary from the unit is recorded. This is ideal for students who need more help with pronunciation at home. Stress again that meaning, form and pron are all inseparable.
(+/-5mins) On the Skills pages, vocabulary is often presented through a visual context. Let’s look at an example. Tell participants that you’re going to show them a picture, but they will only have about 20secs to look at it. After 20secs, click to ‘hide’ the picture. Now ask them to work in pairs to write a list of everything they can remember seeing in the picture. Click to bring up the picture again so they can compare their lists to the picture and ask them to quickly match the words to the visuals. Go through the answers. This task, activates students existing knowledge about the topic to the task and creates a bit of a context.
(+/-5mins) After activating the vocab, the Skills lessons always give students a chance to Listen and Speak. LISTENING always comes first to give students clear models for their own speaking and to help them with pronunciation . You can quickly check what vocabulary they can remember before the listening. Elicit some useful vocab: lane hedge village woods lake stream bridge cottage etc. Then play the recording and ask them to follow directions on the map. If IWB is present, invite a student to the board and follow with the pen. Finally, in pairs, teachers give directions to each other following the map in the books.
(+/-5mins) Let’s have a look at some more examples of speaking from the Skills pages, which really personalise the vocabulary, making the words mean much more. Look at these examples where students are asked to personalise the language. Choose 1 or 2 and discuss with a partner. (if you have the space you could ask the participants to change partners after 1-2mins and to choose another ‘Talk about it’ to discuss with a new partner (repeating 3-4 times). Elicit some answers.
For students who want to improve their vocabulary, it’s vital they are equipped with a monolingual dictionary. Aim High recognises the importance of that so we have included a Dictionary Corner at the end of each unit. The aim of these exercises is to familiarise students with using dictionaries and help them see the benefits of having a monolingual dictionary. Because of the high level of students at this level and the wide range of vocabulary covered by Aim High, we recommend Oxford Student’s Dictionary, although any dictionary can be used. However, Dictionary Corner can be done without OSD for those schools that don’t have them. First of all, let’s have a look at how they work.
(+/-3mins) Students will benefit from a little orientation, so let’s look at a few activities that can help improve your students dictionary skills. The first and most obvious is the alphabet. For those students whose first language doesn’t use the Roman script, getting them familiar with the alphabet and searching for words is an important task. Young people today are less likely to have leafed through the phone book than to have called things up on a computer screen. So some practice to help them speed up their searches may not come amiss. And remember, finding where the word is in the dictionary by its first letter is only the first stage. Dictionary writers know only too well that the letter S can go on for pages and pages in the dictionary. To find ‘sugar’ you have to know not just that it begins with ‘s’ but that it comes after ‘string’ and before ‘sweet’. So here’s a quick activity to make students think alphabetically right through the word. If you put these letters in alphabetical order, they spell a word. malsot – almost phisc - chips It’s worth turning this into a race, because when looking up a word, speed is everything. The Oxford Student’s Dictionary comes with its own CD-ROM. This makes looking up words much easier, especially for students more suited to using a computer than a book. Let’s have a quick look at it.
Open CD-Rom. (You will need to install it on your machine beforehand!) Don’t just show this slide! Highlight: How to search for a word – type in word in search box Listen to pronunciation – click on audio icon Definition Example sentences Exercises – how they work NOTE: The OSD CD-ROM has so much on it and you could spend 60 mins looking at it. All we want to do here is to show what it is and briefly what it can do in a couple of minutes. You can say that it’s something your students can get to know a lot better. We want to concentrate on using a dictionary in class.
(+/-3mins) When a student finds a word, it’s important that they know how to understand the entry. Let’s look at an example. Point out the following: Entry – note pack1 and pack2. Explain different homonym numbers for words with same spelling Oxford 3000 – the 3000 most useful words to learn. Worth explaining a little more about this. Mention: Developed out of extensive research by language experts Words which are most frequently used in written and spoken English across a range of different text types Words which are familiar to English speakers even if not most frequently used, eg. travel words, body parts, words for paraphrasing Pronunciation – phonetic spelling. There is a guide to this in the inside front cover Part of speech Definition 1 – the most commonly used first Other definitions – in order of most commonly used Subject label – which subject area word belongs to Example sentence – to put the word in context. Useful to see which prepositions to use, etc. cross reference
(+/-6mins) Here’s a quick quiz, based around the word ‘sun’. It’s a nice activity to really highlight the huge range of information that a dictionary can give you. Tell participants this is a race. Elicit answers and highlight the type of information that each answer is illustrating: 1 definition 2 grammar 3 example sentence/definition 4 cross referencing 5 idioms 6 facts/pictures 7 prepositions 8 Uncountable/countable nouns
(+/-4mins) Let’s have a look how Dictionary Corner works. This section is all about the body and bodily functions. Ex 1 requires students to look up and understand definitions in order to complete the sentences. sneeze – to make air come out of your nose suddenly and noisily… for example because you have a cold Ex 2 is about collocations and idiomatic expressions. blow your nose – idiom Ex 3 is about categorising vocabulary and encourages students to find the picture of the human body. Let’s have a look at some more examples.
(+/-5mins) Here are some more examples. These look at three different aspects of vocabulary; correct usage, synonyms and affixes. In groups of three. Each person chooses one exercise. Spend a few minutes doing a few questions. Then stop and explain the answers (and how you found the answers) to your partners. Feedback a few examples. Highlight: It can be tricky knowing what exactly to look for. But this will help students get to know the dictionary better. They may know the answers without needing a dictionary. But it’s worth encouraging them to use one to find extra information that they don’t know.
(+/-3mins) So far, we’ve looked at how Aim High teaches vocabulary, through providing contexts, focussing on meaning and form, helping with pronunciation and extending knowledge. But students also need a way to successfully record and reference all the useful vocabulary that they learn. This is where the Wordlists in the SB and WB come in. To begin with, the SB wordlist. All the key words from units are recorded in the wordlist at the back of the SB. Words are divided into parts of speech. Each entry includes the word (bold words mean these are target vocab), the phonetic script, and the key which means that the word is one of the Oxford 3000. At the bottom of each page in the Wordlist there is a guide to the phonetic script. As we looked at before, being able to vocalise a word makes it a lot easier to remember it.
(+/-3mins) The WB Wordlist is slightly different. Each entry still has phonetic script, but it also has space to write in associated words, synonyms, antonyms, and anything else that the student has picked up from the course. A vital part of the learning process. It can be used in conjunction with the dictionary or without
In summary: It’s more than just learning a list of words Meaning, form, pron – 3 vital components in learning vocabulary Aim High always provides relevant contexts to motivate students and get them interested in the topic The Aim High approach to vocab. Every stage is covered. Dictionaries – more than just translation. A good monolingual dictionary is the key to success outside of the classroom.
And with a bit of help we can go from this: to this
Aim High Turkey, August 2010
What it means to know a word Vocabulary & Dictionary skills
danger Spelling Plural/singular Word building danger ous (a) danger ously (adv) en danger (v) en danger ed (adj) Uses/grammar a danger to health they live in danger a dangerous animal an endangered species Synonyms & antonymns hazard, risk safety