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08.05.2016 telc gGmbH 1
Into the mind –
How to teach vocabulary
effectively
Alexandra Haas
08.05.2016 telc gGmbH 2
Schedule of the workshop
 Why teach vocabulary?
 How does the memory work?
– an experiment
 Words in(to) the mind
08.05.2016 3
Why teach vocabulary?
 Grammar rules are the
bones, words are the
flesh.
 Language learning is
mastering structures or
functions.

 Grammar is subordinate
to lexis.
 Language is grammati-
calized lexis, not lexical
grammar.
 The Lexical Approach (Michael Lewis)
Language is a lexical phenomenon.
Language learning is achieved by the ability of the
mind to learn, store and process lexical items.
08.05.2016 4
How does your memory work?
water life fire square death
line air angry pencil ball
picture appel year sheep cluedo
sky hill cloud spring shape
pen foot wind round happy
cat paper arm dog point
foot rabbit round sad intelligent
08.05.2016 5
How does your memory work?
08.05.2016 6
Words in the mind
Any town in real life is likely to
contain “social networks”, groups of
people who know one another and
interact fairly often. […]
This analogy can be transferred to
the mental lexicon. Each 'lexical
town' will contain numerous clumps
of words with strong ties to one
another - though each clump will
also have bonds, yet weaker ones,
with other groups.
(Jean Aitchinson, Words in the Mind)
08.05.2016 7
Words in the mind
The neurobiological view: introducing …
… the brain cell
08.05.2016 8
Words in the mind
 Making connections: synapses
 Learning = building new neuron populations in the cortex
 Babies are born with 100 million neurons, they need to get
connected by synapses
 Synapses get stronger every time they are activated
 The dentist effect: Hebb‘s rule
 „Cells that fire together, wire together“
 Fuel for thoughts – neurotransmitters
 transmitting impulses between neurons/synapses
 excite or inhibit? – neurotransmitters have to be in balance
 a person‘s neurotransmitter-cocktail is as individual as their
fingerprint, unlike the fingerprint, it changes during our lifetime
08.05.2016 9
Take home messages:
 Build networks
= connect new words with things your learners know
(words, things, sounds, tastes, emotions …)
 Recycle words
= do/say new things with old words
 Repeat vocabulary in growing loops
= cf. vocabulary box
Words in the mind
08.05.2016 10
Words in(to) the mind
kutsu
Espressolia / pixelio.de
gudu
Sven Richter / pixelio.de
Tim Reckmann / pixelio.de
Schuh
08.05.2016 11
Words in(to) the mind
The limbic system
 limbus (lat.) = border, the limbic system is the gate keeper
 10 million items of information per second,
only 20 are let through
 the limbic system checks for relevance:
- new? important? pleasant/interesting?
- Is the person in front of me credible?
= the role of the teacher
OpenStax College
08.05.2016 12
Take home messages:
 get the brain‘s attention
 be (in)credible as a teacher
 it‘s all in the mix:
There‘s no such thing as „the ideal learning method“
Words in(to) the mind
08.05.2016 13
Help your
students find the
right methods
08.05.2016 14
Minds are like parachutes.
They only function when open!
Röhl / pixelio.de

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Into the mind - How to teach vocabulary effectively

  • 1. 08.05.2016 telc gGmbH 1 Into the mind – How to teach vocabulary effectively Alexandra Haas
  • 2. 08.05.2016 telc gGmbH 2 Schedule of the workshop  Why teach vocabulary?  How does the memory work? – an experiment  Words in(to) the mind
  • 3. 08.05.2016 3 Why teach vocabulary?  Grammar rules are the bones, words are the flesh.  Language learning is mastering structures or functions.   Grammar is subordinate to lexis.  Language is grammati- calized lexis, not lexical grammar.  The Lexical Approach (Michael Lewis) Language is a lexical phenomenon. Language learning is achieved by the ability of the mind to learn, store and process lexical items.
  • 4. 08.05.2016 4 How does your memory work? water life fire square death line air angry pencil ball picture appel year sheep cluedo sky hill cloud spring shape pen foot wind round happy cat paper arm dog point foot rabbit round sad intelligent
  • 5. 08.05.2016 5 How does your memory work?
  • 6. 08.05.2016 6 Words in the mind Any town in real life is likely to contain “social networks”, groups of people who know one another and interact fairly often. […] This analogy can be transferred to the mental lexicon. Each 'lexical town' will contain numerous clumps of words with strong ties to one another - though each clump will also have bonds, yet weaker ones, with other groups. (Jean Aitchinson, Words in the Mind)
  • 7. 08.05.2016 7 Words in the mind The neurobiological view: introducing … … the brain cell
  • 8. 08.05.2016 8 Words in the mind  Making connections: synapses  Learning = building new neuron populations in the cortex  Babies are born with 100 million neurons, they need to get connected by synapses  Synapses get stronger every time they are activated  The dentist effect: Hebb‘s rule  „Cells that fire together, wire together“  Fuel for thoughts – neurotransmitters  transmitting impulses between neurons/synapses  excite or inhibit? – neurotransmitters have to be in balance  a person‘s neurotransmitter-cocktail is as individual as their fingerprint, unlike the fingerprint, it changes during our lifetime
  • 9. 08.05.2016 9 Take home messages:  Build networks = connect new words with things your learners know (words, things, sounds, tastes, emotions …)  Recycle words = do/say new things with old words  Repeat vocabulary in growing loops = cf. vocabulary box Words in the mind
  • 10. 08.05.2016 10 Words in(to) the mind kutsu Espressolia / pixelio.de gudu Sven Richter / pixelio.de Tim Reckmann / pixelio.de Schuh
  • 11. 08.05.2016 11 Words in(to) the mind The limbic system  limbus (lat.) = border, the limbic system is the gate keeper  10 million items of information per second, only 20 are let through  the limbic system checks for relevance: - new? important? pleasant/interesting? - Is the person in front of me credible? = the role of the teacher OpenStax College
  • 12. 08.05.2016 12 Take home messages:  get the brain‘s attention  be (in)credible as a teacher  it‘s all in the mix: There‘s no such thing as „the ideal learning method“ Words in(to) the mind
  • 13. 08.05.2016 13 Help your students find the right methods
  • 14. 08.05.2016 14 Minds are like parachutes. They only function when open! Röhl / pixelio.de