Choosing Vocabulary to teach


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The powerpoint outlines the importance of considering frequency and examples that connect to the communicative outcomes (spoken or written/ productive or receptive) you want for your students. It also argues that we need to get over the need to grade grammar so strongly, especially at low levels, to allow for appropriate voacbulary development.

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Choosing Vocabulary to teach

  1. 1. Choosing vocabulary to teach Andrew Walkley CELT at University of Westminster
  2. 2. Grammar and vocabulary "... it seems obvious that, at least after elementary level, the largest part of a language learners task is to build up an adequate stock of high-priority words and lexicalised phrases." linguistics/language-teaching.htm
  3. 3. How many words do we need? Text coverage Vocabulary size 50% 100 72% 1000 80% 2000 90% 6000 97% 15000 (academic texts)
  4. 4. How good are you at judging frequency?Top 100 get Top 1000 Top 2500 Top 5000 Top 7500 Over 7500have pass meat clay chair (v) pearbeen provide countryside silk banana yogalong book mood undermine purple chillisaid chair (n) insist component garlic medium-sizedwere contain sad exam kind (adj) skinnyis small failure apple curly moodytell economy fun cinema blonde sunburntgo test (n) recommend lamp thriller electrician bus list (v) poster romance civil servant red relief carbon tan salmon list (n) policy allegation bad-tempered serious coal pleased sort (n / v) gold upset bored short term medium relieve potato sue
  5. 5. Vocabulary choice:grammar as words / phrases at low levels Have you been to Brighton? Can you help me? Ill be there in 10 minutes. Maybe we should go now. I must buy some water. I have to go to the bank. Where / what time shall we meet? We could ask, if you want. If you want to go shopping, Id go / I wouldnt go to Oxford street.
  6. 6. Vocabulary choice:numbers and unrestricted grammarHow much is it?What time shall we meet?When does it start?What time does your flight leave?What time do we have to be at the airport?So what time (do you think) we should leave here?How long will you be?How far is it?How old is he?How many people were there?How many people are unemployed?How long have you been here?Whats the average wage? age people leave home? age people get married? age people retire? (1000-2000) any other ideas(die)
  7. 7. Vocabulary choice:Academic word list and usage The apartment will be available on June first Your continued lateness for class indicates to me that you are not really a very serious student. The young popstarof the readily available still in high school after winning a The determination became famous while phosphorus of soils contract with a major record brief visual presentations. The information available in label. Rate of cell death in parkinsonism indicates active neuropathological process Native American mitochondrial DNA analysis indicates that the Amerind and the Nadene populations were founded by two independent migrations. Trust and breach of the psychological contract Contract enforceability and economic institutions in early trade: The Maghribi traders coalition
  8. 8. Vocabulary choice:How good examples can get more out of low frequencycoursebook vocabularyWhen the ambulance arrived hed stopped breathing, but the paramedics got hisheart going again before they rushed him to hospital.Our little boy has been ill a lot, but our doctor isnt sure why, so hes been referred toa paediatrician.Theres been a scandal because the nurses were found to be neglecting patients.Some had even died because of the lack of care.The nurse said the surgeons very good, so Ill be in safe hands when they operate.The surgeon said the operation had gone well and he expects him to recover well.Whats happening?>Im waiting for the nurse to take some blood.
  9. 9. Questions about your examples and your choice Have you heard of anyone who needed a paramedic? Why what happened? Do you know anyone whos had a referral? Who to? What for? Have you ever had to consult someone? What about? Have you heard of any cases of neglect? What of? What happened? Have you heard of any scandals? What happened?
  10. 10. Vocabulary choice:dealing with lexical sets- simple grammar – "random" words and using students- start from a function or phrase rather and limit the set- develop a set from a word (not as superordinate)- stories / texts / conversations rather than sets
  11. 11. No set: simple grammar with "random" words The US government is bad. They dont do anything. The government His new flat is good. Its big. My flat school is OK. Hes happy there. His sons My school good Our science teacher is good. She explains things well. Our teacher is OK The food here is bad. It doesnt taste nice. The food bad The area near the station is bad. Theres a lot of crime. The area This coffee is good. Its nice and strong. This The economyeconomy is bad. Theres a lot of unemployment. The French That restaurant That French restaurant is OK. The foods nice, but its expensive.In general we not only underestimate the frequency of serious words but also theinterests and abilities of low level learners
  12. 12. Limiting sets: start from a function or phrase. Who was the blonde man in the suit? I havent seen him before. Who was the blonde man in the suit? I havent seen him before. Who was the young man in the suit? I havent seen him before. Who was the short man in the suit? I havent seen him before. Who was the big man in the suit? I havent seen him before. Who was the blonde man in the white shirt? I havent seen him before. Who was the blonde man in the red jumper? I havent seen him before. Who was the blonde man in the black jeans? I havent seen him before. Who was the blonde man next to you? I havent seen him before. Who was the blonde man next to Greg? I havent seen him before. Who was the blonde man in the front row? I havent seen him before. Who was the blonde man in the suit? Ive seen him (somewhere) before. And responses…
  13. 13. Different kinds of set: develop a set from a word staff: exploring collocations recession: exploring co-text When theres a recession what happens? - unemployment goes up / soars* - people lose their jobs / get made redundant* - companies close / go bankrupt* - the government (everyone) makes cuts - sell the car / get rid of any luxuries* - get into debt - lose their house / get repossessed* - have difficulties / struggle* - dont spend money / people tighten their belts*
  14. 14. New sets or no set?: Stories / texts unemployment When the recession started, the company he was working for closed down. Hes been unemployed for 6 months. Hes getting by on his unemployment benefit and hes been using some of his savings, but I dont know how long he can survive like that. Hes beginning to get depressed because hes been looking for a job, but theres so much competition. Hes applied for 20 and he hasnt had one interview. Its hard to maintain your motivation and not just sit at home all day feeling sorry for yourself.
  15. 15. Vocabulary choice:What to choose and focus on in texts- frequent words and meaning (adjusted for level)- phrases and patterns which offer opportunities toslot in limited sets- collocations around very frequent words (still athigh level)- words which may generate a lot of associated(frequent) language and stories- word families (and collocations)
  16. 16. Revision and recylingvocaroo and dictations May I open the window? becausefresh air air get some I want to get some fresh air. The strange man suddenly grabbed me by the arm on the grabbed me by the arm arm street,so I ran away soon. suffers from back pain back I suffered from  back pain becausebadly burnt it quite I bought heavy bag. burn up his girlfriend, he threw the her picture into After he broke had to cancel cancel fire,and burnt it quiet badly. chest a bad carry My schedule was changed because of trouble of my customer so take something for your cough chest I have to cancel my fright. me the day off gave I have acough bad chest pains today. my left foot Take some thing for your cough,If you need,I have paracetamol. day off fresh vegetables My boss gave me the day off.because my son took a could. foot My left foot called a A golden left leg when I was a high school students. fresh I like fresh vegetables,Its good for healthy.
  17. 17. Flashcards and rote learningVocabulary showersAct or draw.Make connections / write storiesNOT just meaning / expand on what students did /ask about collocation etc.
  18. 18. Teaching conference May 11thUniversity of Westminster