How children learn the
meaning of words
Young Learners Workshop
Cecilia Maller A
Ideas
 Bear in mind that kids are still
building their L1 vocabulary, still in
the process of acquiring and
organizing co...
 Children faced to 3 diff. But related
vocabulary learning tasks:
 1. Labelling
 2. Packaging
 3. Network-building
Labelling
 Discover that sequences of sounds
can be used as names for things.
 Ball
Packaging
 Kids must discover which things can
be packed together under one label.
 Kids learn basic words before their
...
Network building task
 Kids must work out how words relate
to one another.
 Ex. Family relationships
Knowing a word
 It involves many diff. types of
knowledge.
 In the early stages:
Less attention to: aspects of form
( sp...
More attention to:
 How a word is pronounced
 Its meaning
 Its use.
 * Depends on the use: active or
receptive use.
Vocabulary size, selection and
learnability
How many words to teach?
 500 words a year.- depending on
factors like learni...
Factors related to LEARNABILITY
(7)
 1.Demonstrability: When a word is
easy to convey.
 Concrete basic level: CAR
 Abst...
 2.Similarity to L1: Similar words?
 Vehicle- ……………
 3. Brevity: Short or long word?
Short=easier. ( assumption)
Plane ...
 4. Regularity of form: A word that has
regularity in form.
 Ex. Apple______Apples ( easier)
 Foot___________Feet
 5. ...
 6.Opportunism: Relevant word to the
kid?
Ex. Classroom environment vocabulary
Vs
How to build a house.
 7. Centres of interest: Relevant and of
interest to children.
 Coursebooks:
 Basic vocabulary essential for
communicat...
The vocabulary teaching and
learning process
 Kids in their effort to learn new words
will go through 5 main stages:
Stage 1: Understanding and
learning the meaning of new words
 Ideally presented in context familiar
to the child.
 Visua...
 Colours sets: things that are green:
A pea, a leaf, an apple.
-Grammatical sets: adjectives, verbs,
prepositions, nouns....
Patterns or collocations: Play the piano,
ride a bike.
-Opposites or male and female:
hot/cold,
Boy/girl.
Techniques to introduce new
vocabulary
 Using objects- Helps to memorize the
word through visualization.
 Using drawings...
 Using illustrations, pictures, photos,
flashcards ( your own, from
magazines)
 Using action, mime, expressions and
gestures. Sad/happy., swim/run
 Pointing, touching, tasting, feeling,
smelling when...
 Using technology
Verbal techniques
 Explaining- analytical description.
Ex. A present is something….
 Definig the context: The winner of ...
 Eliciting What does the winner of the
swimming competition get?- more
memorable and motivating than a list
of words.
 D...
Stage 2. Attending to form
 Depending on the age and level.
 Listening and repeating
 Listening for specific phonologic...
 Looking at/ observing the written form
( shape, first and last letters, spelling)
 Noticing grammatical information.
Ex...
Stage 3: Vocabulary practising,
memorizing and checking activities
 This requires to do things with the
words __to make s...
 Classifying/sorting. Kids sort words
into categories. Ex. Hot and cold
drinks.
 Giving instructions. T. focuses on
spec...
 Picture dictation: Kids draw what you
say.
 What´s missing: Look at a picture
ans say what´s missing.
 Kim´s game: Objects are used and
displayed on a tray or table.
 Wordsearchers: Kids love searching for
English spelling...
 Labelling: Kids label a picture in order
to practise different nouns from lexical
sets.
Christmas tree
Stage 4. Consolidating, recycling,
extending, organizing, recording
and personalizing vocabulary
 Kids seem to learn fast...
 Vocabulary books
Create their own VB:
Ex. Alphabetically, pictures and drawings,
by topic, situation, grammatical
groups...
 Word network/ webs/trees.
Create their own ones; taking as
starting point a topic.
Ex. Transport….
 Clines or steps degrees of temperature:
Hot/ warm/ cold/ freezing. Animals from
big to small.
 Word stars. Pupils arran...
How children learn the meaning of words 80 92
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How children learn the meaning of words 80 92

  1. 1. How children learn the meaning of words Young Learners Workshop Cecilia Maller A
  2. 2. Ideas  Bear in mind that kids are still building their L1 vocabulary, still in the process of acquiring and organizing concepts.  So learning L2 complex.  Learning is a continuous process- all your life.
  3. 3.  Children faced to 3 diff. But related vocabulary learning tasks:  1. Labelling  2. Packaging  3. Network-building
  4. 4. Labelling  Discover that sequences of sounds can be used as names for things.  Ball
  5. 5. Packaging  Kids must discover which things can be packed together under one label.  Kids learn basic words before their subordinates.  Ex. Chair before furniture
  6. 6. Network building task  Kids must work out how words relate to one another.  Ex. Family relationships
  7. 7. Knowing a word  It involves many diff. types of knowledge.  In the early stages: Less attention to: aspects of form ( spelling, grammatical description, grammatical changes that a word may suffer, etc.).
  8. 8. More attention to:  How a word is pronounced  Its meaning  Its use.  * Depends on the use: active or receptive use.
  9. 9. Vocabulary size, selection and learnability How many words to teach?  500 words a year.- depending on factors like learning conditions, time available and learnability of a word.
  10. 10. Factors related to LEARNABILITY (7)  1.Demonstrability: When a word is easy to convey.  Concrete basic level: CAR  Abstract: Transport
  11. 11.  2.Similarity to L1: Similar words?  Vehicle- ……………  3. Brevity: Short or long word? Short=easier. ( assumption) Plane Aeroplane
  12. 12.  4. Regularity of form: A word that has regularity in form.  Ex. Apple______Apples ( easier)  Foot___________Feet  5. Learning Load: Part of a word already known.  Ex. Bed Room Bedroom.( effort to learn it -lower)
  13. 13.  6.Opportunism: Relevant word to the kid? Ex. Classroom environment vocabulary Vs How to build a house.
  14. 14.  7. Centres of interest: Relevant and of interest to children.  Coursebooks:  Basic vocabulary essential for communication as well as child-centred words.  Fun ________value  Kids: like to learn, easiest to learn and remember.  Read pages 83-85 ( whole article)
  15. 15. The vocabulary teaching and learning process  Kids in their effort to learn new words will go through 5 main stages:
  16. 16. Stage 1: Understanding and learning the meaning of new words  Ideally presented in context familiar to the child.  Visual support- to convey meaning and help memorize new vocabulary.  How to introduce them: - Lexical sets: shops, fruit, rooms in a house - Rhyming sets: bat, rat, hat, mat
  17. 17.  Colours sets: things that are green: A pea, a leaf, an apple. -Grammatical sets: adjectives, verbs, prepositions, nouns. Help recognize patterns; e.i. –or, -er,c- ist for jobs.
  18. 18. Patterns or collocations: Play the piano, ride a bike. -Opposites or male and female: hot/cold, Boy/girl.
  19. 19. Techniques to introduce new vocabulary  Using objects- Helps to memorize the word through visualization.  Using drawings- board or flashcards* ( card covered with plastic).
  20. 20.  Using illustrations, pictures, photos, flashcards ( your own, from magazines)
  21. 21.  Using action, mime, expressions and gestures. Sad/happy., swim/run  Pointing, touching, tasting, feeling, smelling whenever possible- pupils use their senses, memorize words and understand meanings.
  22. 22.  Using technology
  23. 23. Verbal techniques  Explaining- analytical description. Ex. A present is something….  Definig the context: The winner of the swimming competition gets a medal.
  24. 24.  Eliciting What does the winner of the swimming competition get?- more memorable and motivating than a list of words.  Describing: It´s made of metal and looks like a coin----medal. Using opposites Kids associate words with a concept they understand in L1.
  25. 25. Stage 2. Attending to form  Depending on the age and level.  Listening and repeating  Listening for specific phonological info ( consonant and vowel sounds,number of syllables, stress patterns, etc)
  26. 26.  Looking at/ observing the written form ( shape, first and last letters, spelling)  Noticing grammatical information. Ex. AN apple  Copying and organizing
  27. 27. Stage 3: Vocabulary practising, memorizing and checking activities  This requires to do things with the words __to make strong memory connections by learning words in groups.
  28. 28.  Classifying/sorting. Kids sort words into categories. Ex. Hot and cold drinks.  Giving instructions. T. focuses on specific vocabulary. Ex. Show me a red square
  29. 29.  Picture dictation: Kids draw what you say.  What´s missing: Look at a picture ans say what´s missing.
  30. 30.  Kim´s game: Objects are used and displayed on a tray or table.  Wordsearchers: Kids love searching for English spelling patterns.  Sequencing: Put pictures on the board as required. Put the red square next to…
  31. 31.  Labelling: Kids label a picture in order to practise different nouns from lexical sets. Christmas tree
  32. 32. Stage 4. Consolidating, recycling, extending, organizing, recording and personalizing vocabulary  Kids seem to learn fast- take care of their long term memory: practise regularly, consolidate and recycle words in diff. contexts.  How?
  33. 33.  Vocabulary books Create their own VB: Ex. Alphabetically, pictures and drawings, by topic, situation, grammatical groups, etc.  Collages: Around a particular theme
  34. 34.  Word network/ webs/trees. Create their own ones; taking as starting point a topic. Ex. Transport….
  35. 35.  Clines or steps degrees of temperature: Hot/ warm/ cold/ freezing. Animals from big to small.  Word stars. Pupils arrange words which rhyme on a star diagram which will help them recognize letter-sound relations.  Reading pg. 90- 91

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