The book is intended as an introduction to some general aspects of language and linguistics for teachers of English as a second language ESL or bilingual teachers. The target audience is teachers who have not had the opportunity to study the English language formally. With that in mind, it is hard not to appreciate the reader-friendly format and writing style that Larry Andrews has adopted for this book. The author avoids technical terminology whenever possible and illustrates every concept presented with an array of examples.
The book includes a preface and six chapters. Each of them opens with a prereading section that acts as both an advance organizer and a good excuse to provoke discussions about the topic in the chapter. These activities ask the student to think about the way English is used in real life and give readers an opportunity to check what they have read in the chapter against everyday use. In the second chapter, A illustrates the different processes of word formation as they apply to English and talks about attitudes towards language change and the importance of knowing how to use a dictionary.
In this chapter, A introduces an idea to which he will come back throughout the book, the notion that there is an inseparable connection between language and the cultural context in which it is produced. In Ch. Here, I found the author slipping into what seems like a pointless effort to find a logical explanation sometimes not very credible of how some language conventions came about.
The chapter regains a more convincing tone when A introduces the reader to some of the principles of pragmatics. The author reminds us of the linguistic irrationality of considering some dialects superior to others and encourages the reader to look at change and variation as evidence of the vitality of the language. The final chapter is an overview of semantics in which A, once again, calls attention to the arbitrariness and the contextual dependency of the process of meaning creation.
This book is definitely not intended for the initiated and its discussions, at some points, may seem a little superficial or obvious. But considering the audience for which it is targeted, this may be more a virtue than a fault.
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The importance of vocabulary in language learning is also known to students. As Schmitt , p. Generally, vocabulary means knowledge of words as well as explanations of meanings of words. But knowing a word is far beyond knowing the meaning of the word.
Nation suggested that word knowledge includes the mastery in several sets of information:. Therefore teachers and learners are expected to learn these aspects of each new word which is technically referred to as "vocabulary depth". On the other hand, the number of words that learners must learn is also an important issue which is called "vocabulary breadth".
In addition to vocabulary depth and breadth, there are other challenges that teachers, learners, and educationalists deal with. McCarten refers to a number of needed words as well as an appropriate list of words besides other challenges in the field.
According to Zimmerman , it is not easy to find out how many words are there in English because, as he exemplifies, items such as differ , difference , different , and differently are considered one word or four? A major problem with counting word families is deciding what should be counted as a member of a word family. The most conservative way, according to Nation , is to count lemmas. A lemma is a set of related words that consists of the stem form and inflected forms that are all the same part of speech. So, differ, differs, differed, and differing would all be members of the same lemma because they all have the same stem — all are verbs.
Despite such difficulties, researchers have attempted to find out how many words native speakers know, so that they can realize the number of words needed for EFL or ESL learners. An estimation is that native speakers of English know between 12, to 20, words depending on their educational level. Goulden, Nation and Reed believe that native graduate students of university know about 20, words.
These native speakers of English obtain 4, to 5, words when they are five years old and then they roughly learn 1, words each year. But it does not mean that communication in English language with limited word knowledge is impossible. It is said that a large section of texts in English can be understood by relatively little vocabulary and this is good news for non-native speakers of English since their vocabulary knowledge cannot exceed 5, Francis and Kucera claim that learners who know 5, words can understand To put more emphasis on importance of vocabulary knowledge, Laufer and Ravenhorst-Kalovsky show that vocabulary knowledge is a key predictor of reading success and the great deal of vocabulary growth is a direct result of reading.
Therefore, Schmitt a concludes that a vocabulary size between 8, and 9, words is needed to comprehend novels and newspapers. Selecting the words that must be taught is not an easy task. When it comes to the question of which words must be taught, teachers tend to differentiate b etween two types of vocabulary:.
Therefore, teachers prefer to teach the words that are familiar for their students but students cannot use them in their own production. The choice of words must be done with regard to three factors:. A word with high frequency is an important word in language. GSL is a high frequency word list including word families in a variety of contexts, such as conversations, novels, news programs, etc.
For general academic preparation, there is another word list known as academic word list AWL which is selected from a 3. AWL contains word families in the fields of business, humanities, law, the physical and life sciences. So a word is salient when it is of central importance in a given context.
Unnecessary and unimportant words rarely motivate the students to learn them Mehring, Core words of a context encourage the students to frequent retention, repetition, and discussion of such words. The final factor for choosing the words is corpus. Corpus is the "large, principled collection of naturally occurring texts written or spoken stored electronically" Reppen, , P.
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A Historical Look at Vocabulary Instruction. The role of vocabulary in second language instruction has changed over the time. The following paragraphs will demonstrate the role and function of vocabulary from the early twentieth century onwards:. Grammar-Translation Method.
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In this approach, the primary goal is to prepare the students to study literary works and to be able to pass standardized language exams. In GTM, students are not required to use language for communication purposes. Teachers ask the learners to translate a classical text into their own mother tongue, and vocabulary instruction is limited to a definition of the word and its etymology. Little attention was given to other aspects of word knowledge such as pronunciation, collocation, register, etc. Reform Approach. In contrast to GTM in which sound or phonetic training is completely ignored, in the reform approach the emphasis is on phonetic training or oral language fluency.
Vocabulary selection is made according to word simplicity and usefulness. Since in this approach the focus is on sentence rather than isolated words, the words are simple and practical, such as names of different parts of an automobile, or articles of clothing, because phonetic training of such simple words is easier than complex technical words.
Direct Method: Both the direct method and reform approach were reactions against the grammar-translation method. DM can be said to be the first approach that emphasized a communicative role in language. The purpose of this approach is to train students who can communicate in a foreign language, and the mechanism of choosing vocabulary is their familiarity and their use in classroom interaction.
In the reform approach, complete attention is given to pronunciation and in the direct method oral communication is the primary concern. The reading approach is a response to declining reading scores in the U. To select the target language context, the advocates of reading approach favored a scientific and quantifiable perspective in language classes. They criticized that focusing on speech without selecting the content in a principled way is not useful. They believed that vocabulary expansion can lead to reading improvement. It can be said that the reading approach played a great scientific role in drawing attentions to vocabulary.
Vocabulary Control Movement is a result of this approach which later led to the advent of frequency-based word lists. Vocabulary was emphasized in language instruction and they were selected according to their usefulness and frequency. West introduced a General Service List of English words which includes most frequent words in English. Audiolingualism: Based on the behavioristic view of habit formation, the audiolingual approach emphasized listening and speaking skills as well as syntax and language structure.
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Charles Fries, the founder of ALM, believed that language learning starts with syntactic structure. According to Fries, vocabulary is an object of illustrating grammatical points. Communicative Language Teaching: This approach includes various methods and its central belief is that language is a means of communication. CLT advocates believe that understanding the structures of language is not as important as the ability to communicate by language. Vocabulary is selected from authentic materials according to their usefulness in real life communicating situations.
But what is certain now is that experts of language teaching and learning consider a strategic role for vocabulary in language learning success. Undoubtedly, learning vocabulary is an essential part of language mastery Schmitt, Developing rich vocabulary is a necessity for both L1 and L2 learners but due to incremental nature of word learning, it is an on-going challenge.
Therefore, so far there has not been a method that best enhances vocabulary learning Yongqui — Gu ; Schmitt, b. Intentional and Incidental Learning. Word learning involves both intentional explicit learning which is the focused study of words and incidental learning. There are different ideas about the best way to learn vocabulary. Schmitt b , however, puts more emphasis on intentional learning. Brown et al. Conscious attention and noticing are generally the first steps of learning but it is highly possible that while reading, learners may not notice the unknown words.
Effective Vocabulary Instruction. As mentioned earlier, vocabulary learning is an on-going challenge which demands much time to achieve a mastery level.
Relying on different research studies, there are four tasks for vocabulary learning:. Repetition: repeated exposure to target word is of great importance for vocabulary learning. There is a lot to learn about a single word, so the learners need to meet it several times to gain the required information.
Webb explains that for each repetition of a word, at least one piece of word knowledge is acquired; therefore, a typical learner should meet a word about 8 to 10 times to obtain full word knowledge. What is worth mentioning here is the intervals between the repetitions. Nation refers to the conducted studies on memory and reports that "most forgetting takes place immediately after first encounter with new information. That is, the older the piece of knowledge, the more slowly it will be forgotten.
This suggests that the first several encounters should be close together, with later encounters spaced farther apart" p. Focus on meaning and form : Learners should be provided with opportunities to focus both on form and meaning.