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THE MAGIC OF VOCABULARY - Tallinn University

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SirleKivihall, MA(
Grammar and vocabulary
English is the universal medium of communication to socialize with people, do business, reach political agreements and update yourFacebookstatus.However, there seems to be theteachers’ as well as students’ obsession with grammar.Why?
Grammar and vocabulary
The truth is that grammar sells!The English language course books are still designed with a linear grammatical syllabus in mind.Language acquisition is a much more organic or holistic process.
Grammar and vocabulary
The concept of “successful language” is much more helpful than “formally accurate language”.Weshouldagree that learning a language is not about knowing how to, but about being able to.“Withoutgrammar little can be conveyed; without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed.”(David WilkinsLinguistics in Language Teaching,1972)
Grammar and vocabulary
Raymond Murphy has explained that he wrote his “best-sellers” so that students didn’t have to waste time in class focusing on grammar exercises.Formalgrammar should not be totally ignored in the classroom.It should definitely take less of a priority than it takes currently.
Language skills
Somescholars of language acquisition no longer talk about the four language skills,but nine skills.Those traditional four skills don’t take into account the other skills necessary for language development.These other skills are vocabulary, spelling, grammar, pronunciation and study skills.
Vocabulary has its place in every lesson and can be organically pulled from the other skill areas covered in the lesson.The new vocabulary which students acquire makes them conscious of the progress they are making in the language development.Taking the vocabulary activities further in the lessons will foster the students’ intrinsic motivation.
Bulk of words
Students often complain of not knowing the words in a text.This is not surprising, given the sheer number of items in the language.There simply are far too many to learn.Why?
Bulk of words
English has borrowed so much from other languages,hence,it has a higher than usual number of synonyms and near-synonyms.It has idioms and metonyms.It puts items together, either as compounds or in collocations.A noun can be used as a verb and vice versa.
Bulk of words
There are also multiple versions within one part of speech.The past and present participles of verb can be used as adjectives or nouns.Modern life has brought about the invention of many new things to which we need to refer, thereby adding specialist terms and jargon to the lexicon.
Exposure to textual language
Encourage studentsto listen to the radio, watch films or You Tube videos, read texts on websites, read novels and short stories.TASK:Ask them to make their own wordlists. Each lesson/every other lesson one student teaches the classmates 5-10 words, depending on the level.
lexicalversusgrammatical words
Lexicalwords are like numbers because they have value, grammatical words are like operators (+, -, = etc) because these signify relationship between numbers.TASK:Hand out a short paragraph of text, divide the class into two, ask each group to use highlighters to mark either lexical or grammatical words. Bring the whole class together for checking and feedback.
words can behave differently
TASK:Ask the students to pick out all the –ingwords in the text and classify them as:Part of continuous form of the verb (She issmoking.)A present participle (He sat in the armchair,smokinghis pipe.)A present participle acting as an adjective (They have not discovered thesmokinggun.)A gerund as a subject or object of a verb (Smokingis now banned in public.)
discover compounds
TASK:match the halves to make compound nouns.CreditlicenseChequestarBuslensFilmstopDrivingbookHealth cardContactcentre(credit card, cheque book, bus stop, film star, driving license, health centre, contact lens)
discover compounds
TASK:Match the halves to make compound adjectives.Freeze -producedReady-bakedOrganically-driedFreshly-made(freeze-dried, ready-made/ready-baked, organically-produced, freshly-baked/freshly-made)
Compoundsmake larger units and collocations
TASK:Match these compound adjectives with the nouns.Instant coffee / fruit and vegetables / bread and pastries / frozen mealsFreeze-driedReady-madeOrganically-producedFreshly-baked(freeze-dried instant coffee, ready-made frozen meals, organically-produced fruit and vegetables, freshly-baked bread and pastries)
Teach collocations
Onechance of knowing the answer leads to learning more collocations.TASK:Match each verb with the words it collocates with.Make / take / give / pay / look................... attention, a debt, someone a compliment................... advantage, charge, advice, no notice................... a point, a mess, a fool of oneself................... ahead, around, to the future, out................... advice, notice, someone a lot of trouble(pay, take, make, look, give)
Newuses for old
Explore homophones, homonyms and near synonyms.TASK:Match the dictionary definitions to the correct words.Line / stamp / stick..... small sticky square of paper as proof of payment (n); hit the ground with your foot (vb); place an inked seal on a document (vb)..... an extended horizontal mark on paper (n); put a lining in a skirt, curtains (vb); a queue (n)..... make something adhere to something else with glue (vb); part of a branch of a tree (n)(stamp, line, stick)
distinguish between adjectives and adverbs/ verbs and nouns
TASK:Ask the students to use the words in sentences to show different uses.Alone / deep / direct / extra / lateThelatearrivalsare quite common. (adj.)We will not wait for you if you arrivelate. (adv.)TASK:Ask the students to use the words in sentences to show different uses.Dance / crash / cut / wish / smellMy boyfriend asked me to thedance. (n)I willdancewith you. (vb)
Sticky ball
Write several words you want to review on the board. Give each word a value, for example 20 points for a difficult one, 12 points for an easier one.The students take turns to throw a sticky ball or a paper ball at the board, and they have to make a sentence using a word that they hit.Students win points for correct sentences.
Writing race
Divide the class into two or three teams, each lined up facing the board.Give markers/chalks to the students ahead of their teams.Tell everyone that they will have to write words of a particular kind (e.g. weekdays, body parts, colours, animals, personality adjectives, past simple verbs etc.).On your signal, they run to the board, write a word, pass the marker/chalk to the person behind them and dash to the back of their team.Theteamwiththe most different words wins.
Word formation
Complete the end, the beginning or both of a word in as many ways as possible.PAT_ _ _(patent, patchy, patron)_ _ _ ST(first, yeast, least, trust, roast etc.)_ _ TT _ _(mitten, butter, litter, better, gutter, bitten etc.)
Musical words
Play a piece of music and ask students to move around in the classroom.Pause the music and ask them to work in pairs with the person nearest them.Tell them they have about 30 seconds (longer for more advanced students) to say in turns as many words in English as possible in a given category, e.g. adjectives.After 30 seconds, start the music again and ask them to move around again.Then pause it again and tell them another category, e.g. fruit.
Grouping language
Make a list of language items you have taught and ask the students to organise the words/expressions into groups.Provide the categories yourselfSay how many groups you want but don’t give the titlesAllow the students freedom in deciding how to group the items.In all cases, the students can discuss their groupings in pairs or small groups.
Various links that might come handy
PowerPoint templates, puzzles, games, graded reading, twisters
Short video clips accompanied by worksheets; click on teaching Ideaswww.garycollins.chOnline dictionary, which features definitions, etymology, visual presentation, pronunciation, antonyms, synonyms, idioms etc.http://www.wordnik.comExtra listening practice for homework; various accents of spoken English
Multimedia-based environment; opt for Language lectures and watch short video lessons on grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, slang.http://www.learnerstv.comA bank of enjoyable videos/texts that can be turned into listening tasks or simply enjoyed in application for preparing revision activities, especially with lexical focus
Sources used
RichardOstickGet your priorities right: vocabulary versus grammar;; 28.09.12MaxineMangatMake it meaningful; ENGLISH TEACHING professional; Issue 78 January 2012Isobel Fletcher deTéllezLearning Lexis; ENGLISH TEACHING professional; Issue 80 May 2012AliciaArtusi, GregoryManinThe wonder of warmers; ENGLISH TEACHING professional; Issue 78 January 2012In defence of the old board; ENGLISH TEACHING professional; Issue 78 January 2012RonaldoAdeniltonde Lima; ENGLISH TEACHING professional; Issue 82 September 2012HughDellarRegular revision; ENGLISH TEACHING professional; Issue 82 July 2012





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THE MAGIC OF VOCABULARY - Tallinn University