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SOME PRACTICAL AND THEORETICAL DIFFICULTIES





Outside the classroom our students are not engaged in extensive reading. They have little free time for extra reading when they can improve vocabulary knowledge necessary for new words to be repeated. Sometimes, both large classes and irregular attendance make it extremely difficult to monitor a student development or provide adequate individaul feedback.

There are other difficulties when we do decide to give time to specific vocabulary in class. How many lexical items should be taught in a lesson? Other factors include pronunciation, orthography, semantics / we mean polysemy/, morphology, parts of speech, idiomaticity, etc. The latter are a particulary area for confusion.

Many learners fix on one meaning they know and find it very difficult to use another even if the one they know has no sense in that new context. For example, such a word as bank. We go to the bank to take or invest money. The banks of the river are picturesque. We can give a lot of similar sentences with other words.

There are dangers in teaching synonyms and antonyms as well as homonyms, for instance, please, give me your left hand. She left home at seven /homonyms/.

The emphasis should be made on teaching recognition or discrimination drills. For example, the linguistic contrast between the words b e a t and b i t, l e a v e and l i v e, t h a n and t h e n, etc. The same refers to teaching grammar.

We think these sentences demonstrate it clearly: She reads much. She is reading much. She has read much. Here we can cite the words ... we must teach our students not only how to surf the net, but also how to make waves /Schneiderman, 1977/.

One more important contribution of vocabulary as being basic for communication.

We do agree that if learners do not recognize the meaning of keywords they will be unable to participate in the conversation, even if they know the morphology or syntax. On the other hand, we believe that grammar is equally important in teaching and it is not the case to substitute it with vocabulary teaching. One should also mention the use of dictionaries as a way to discover meaning and foster learner independence /Solange Moras, 2001/.

Discussing this interesting subject, it is worth mentioning adjuncts, the units which operate the logic of the text. Taking into account the property of language system to create the similar groups, it is possible to consider them as follows: expressions with the meaning of comparison, such as compared to, for comparison, as compared with; to remember a group of words, having relation to number /a number of, a range of, a variety of, a set of, etc./ and others.

Among these units we can register the groups of synonyms:

For example owing to in keeping with

for instance due to according to

as well as antonyms /in keeping with (on the contrary/in contradiction with).

We are not afraid to show students the groups with the same syntactic structure

but different semantically, for instance,

in general at least in the way

in total at last in a way

in particular at hand in such a way

in addtion at rest in the same way

in fact at random

It goes without saying that learner s intentions can easily be lost or badly misunderstood, if no connector is used or it is used incorrect.

Finally, I would like to say that teaching these units is one of the important but not very difficult process. It is simply necessary to practice them, decide exactly what to teach, to give students the opportunity to feel confident in using them.

There is no doubt that all the items discussed above are very important while teaching vocabulary.

P R O C E D U R E

Considering all the possibilities and difficulties we decided to give students to answer the questionaire.

P U R P O S E O F T H E S T U D Y

The purpose of this reasearch was to understand how they see the role of teaching vocabulary.

TWENTY FIVE STUDENTS WERE GIVEN FIVE QUESTIONS:

1. What is the teacher’s role in this process?

2. What approach in teaching vocabulary is the most effective:

A/ audio-lingual method, focused on pronunciation of basic sentences/ patterns, etc;

B/ natural approach / communicative approach focused on a clear and meaningful process of acquisition and not on the final product of correct grammar, a list of words and their meaning;

C/ the last and recent approach in schools today “whole language approach”

to start from the abstract and continue to the specifics / contextual

approach /.

3. How will you know when your students are progressing effectively and when they need support?

4. How will you structure your lesson if you want it to be meaningful and relevant?

5. Why is teaching vocabulary as a part of language acquisition so important?

F I N D I N G S

All students are from the English Department and we think that their opinion is very important because they are future teachers of English. The answers we have received are interesting and rather different.

When asked about the teacher’s role they wrote the following:

- to guide students to be aware of use active vocabulary;

- teacher’s role is to engage pupils in acquiring vocabulary;

- to activate the pupil’s role;

- the teacher should read aloud the new words to teach proper

- pronunciation;

- to use high level vocabulary and translate the new words;

- to challenge students;

- to give examples and ideas;

- to use interesting texts, songs, poems, books and movies;

- to give information to develop students’ skills;

- to enforce students to be interested in learning a new vocabulary and in gaining the knowledge;

- to increase the pupils’s interest by analysing texts;

- the teacher shows techniques of acquisition /the process of building new vocabulary/;

- to provide the opportunity to learning to acqiure new vocabulary;

- to understand different meanings through various contexts;

- to find new ways how to teach better and make the process easier;

- to use the best, clear and creative ways of remembering the new units;

- to teach through comparative analysis;

- make them feel confidence in ability to cope with the problem of acquiring new vocabulary and better understanding it;

- to inspire students’ curiosity.

As for the second question, some students were against the audio-lingual method focused on teaching pronunciation of basic patterns as well as to give students the list of words with meanings.

Five students said that natural/communicative approach focused on a clear and meaningful process of acquisiton is the best one.

The rest were for the use of all methods, that is a combination of audio-lingual, communicative and contextual approach.

They also indicated that it depends on the level of pupils.

While analysing the answers to the third question, dealing with students’ success and teachers’ support, we registered the following opinions which give the possibility to improve the pupils’ knowledge:

- to ask as many questions as possible;

- to check notebooks from time to time;

- when they make progress to use the new vocabulary by speaking a lot as well as force them to write;

- to check their written assignments, paying attention to grammar, punctuation, sentence structure and word order;

- to give quizes and tests;

- to take into consideration participation in class discussion;

- make them express themselves without shyness and not be afraid of making mistakes, that is, relax them;

- to support the pupils in order to make progress;

- to use various types of exercises, including multiple choice, complete a sentence, find key words, the words with opposite meaning /antonyms/, with similar meaning/synonyms/, etc.

- to show them that they become better, praise the pupils;

- to use individual work;

- group work is also very useful;

- to write portfolios and projects;

- make them communicate and be understood, etc.

In our opinion, the fourth question appeared to be one of the most important and we had useful and, to our mind, helpful answers. / How will you structure your lesson if you want it to be meaningful and relevant?/

They sound as follows:

- according to needs, interests and level;

- through fully interesting and thoughtful ways;

- using visual activities;

- teaching through crosswords, games and songs;

- to be close to pupils’s life and their private experience;

- to teach through contexts;

- reading newspapers, poems and fables as well as riddles;

- teaching the language through proverbs and sayings;

- always to make a conclusion at the end of the lesson and focus on what they managed to do at the lesson;

- a lesson should be intensive;

- to use meanigful and selected material;

- to apply all possible ways /material/ to show they are able to study and make progress;

- to increase their interest;

- to use charts and tables /maps/;

- to perform short plays /role game/, English parties and study the habits of the country;

- to use puppets;

- to ask pupils to bring their own material, that is, make them find something interesting;

- to teach grammar through stories.

To summarise – to offer all possible opportunities for true, interactive and communicative practice in the language classroom.

The last and not the least question “ Why is teaching vocabulary as a part of language acquisition so important?”

Our future teachers claim that … ….

- vocabulary is the core of any language;

- it gives the possibility to communicate;

- it enriches the knowledge;

- vocabulary is the sense of language;

- it is basis for understanding;

- you need it to speak freely and fluently;

- it is used for good writing;

- improving vocabulary helps to express yourself better.

C O N C L U D I N G T H O U G H T S

Vocabulary is the fuel. / Neil J. Anderson/

It is possible, she says, to summarize the most important consideration in vocabulary in these three questions:

1. What vocabulary do my learners need to know?

2. How will they learn this vocabulary?

3. How can I best test to see what they need to know and what they know now?

Answers to these questions are given by the students in our questionnaire. We found that our research turned to be logical and rather useful. Moreover, according to Vygotsky / Thought and Word / ‘The relation of thought to word is not a thing but process” … “ it undergoes changes, moves, grows and develops.”

In addition, if language is as old as consciousness, any word is a thing in it, then, consciousness is reflected in a word as the “sun in a drop of water”. /Lev Vygotsky and his famous work “Thought and Language”.

Finally, a great deal of overlap exists between development of vocabulary skills and its acquisition. First, it is a long term process. Second, vocabulary study can be integrated throughout the reading. Next, using both of these strategies may be helpful. In th end, vocabulary as a part of language acquisition may be viewed as a skill today and in the future.

 

 

Пашаева И.В., Развозжаева О.Ю., Санина М.Б.

Иркутский государственный технический университет

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