The Lexical Approach is a method of
teaching foreign languages described by Michael Lewis in the
An important part of learning a language consists of being
able to understand and produce lexical phrases as chunks.
Students are thought to be able to
perceive patterns of language
(grammar) as well as have
meaningful set uses of words at
their disposal when they are
taught in this way.
Vocabulary is prized over grammar per se in this
approach. The teaching of chunks and set phrases has
become common in English as a second or foreign
* The Lexical Approach can be summarized in a few
words: language consists not of traditional grammar and
vocabulary but often of multi-word prefabricated chunks.
In the lexical approach, instruction focuses on fixed
expressions that occur frequently in dialogues, which
Lewis claims make up a larger part of discourse than
unique phrases and sentences.
List of the main principles of the approach:
1. The grammar/vocabulary dichotomy is invalid.
2. Collocation is used as an organizing principle.
3. Successful language is a wider concept than accurate
4. The Observe-Hypothesise-Experiment cycle replaces the
5. Most importantly, language consists of grammaticalised
lexis–not lexicalised grammar.
“Lexical approaches in language teaching brought to light a
view of language in which lexis plays the central role”.
In the 1990s, Michael Lewis wrote two books outlining his language
learning theory: The English Verb and The Lexical Approach.
According to the Lexical Approach, students should learn 'chunks' of
language, since language is made up of collocations, idioms, and fixed
Collocations might be described as the words that are placed or found
together in a predictable pattern. Examples range from two word
combinations such as problem child to extended combinations such as
He’s recovering from a major operation. These language patterns
comprise much of speech and writing.
Collocations: are words that 'sound right' together, even
though there is no grammatical reason they should be used
gin & tonic (but never tonic & gin)
high probability (but good chance)
completely useless (not entirely useless)
Idioms: are phrases that express something entirely different
than what their literal meaning suggests:
to pull someone's leg
to get cold feet
to cut to the chase
Fixed phrases: are commonly-used expressions:
to close your eyes
to get the impression
larger than life
Many other lexical units also occur in language.
Binomials: a binomial is a polynomial with two terms. For
instance; clean and tidy
Trinomials: a trinomial is a polynomial consisting of three
terms or monomials. For instance; cool, calm and
Simile: A figure of speech in which
two fundamentally unlike things are
explicitly compared, usually in a
phrase introduced by like or as.
"Good coffee is like friendship: rich and warm and strong."
(slogan of Pan-American Coffee Bureau)
Connectives: finally, therefore….
These play a central role in learning
and in communication.
Three important UK-based corpora are
the COBUILD Bank of English Corpus,
the Cambridge International Corpus, and
the British National Corpus.
•The role of teacher
•The role of learners
To understand and
materials based on lexical
rather than grammatical
* Comprehending the most
common lexical words
together with lexical
patterns and accesses.
• The lexical syllabus not onlysubsumes a
structural syllabus, it also indicate how the
structures which make up syllabus should be
exemplified (Willis, 1990).
• A lexical syllabus provides a discussion of
some of the major issues in language teaching
methodology ( Willis, 1990).
• Lexical syllabus target how text are used in
• Teachers’ aims :
• Class time should be confined particular learning
strategies dealing with unknown lexical items and
• Teachers can struggle for students’ consciousness and
lexical patterns’ benefits.
• Students should be relaxed for fear of causing confusion
to the learners’ lexicon.
THE ROLE OF
• Teacher talk is a major source
of learners input
• Organizing technological
systems and creating
environment to help effectively
• Teachers’ methodology in
THE ROLE OF
The idea of the teacher
as ‘knower’ = the idea
of the learners as
MATERIALS AND TEACHING
“printout version” of
in text format
Classroom procedures generally
a) Attracting students’ attention to
b) Increasing students’ retention
Revising the course books to seek
collocations , and practicing
Making use of activities developing the
students’ realization to collocation
Teaching individual collocations
Providing students awareness to
Giving the knowledge of collocation and
adding them to appropriate known words
Supporting students to
keep a lexical notebook
This approach’s characterization
still remains incompletely
It is still only an opinion
Teachers should use more
exercises for raising students’
mindfulness rather than
Lewis, M. (1993). The lexical approach: The state of ELT and a way
forward. Hove, England: Language Teaching Publications.
Lewis, M. (1997). Implementing the lexical approach. Hove,
England: Language Teaching Publications.
Nation, I. S. .P. (1990). Teaching and learning vocabulary. Rowley,
MA: Newbury House.
Richards, J. (2001). Approaches and Methods in Language
Teaching:Cambridge University Press.
Sinclair, J. (1991). Corpus, concordance, collocation. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.