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К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2012

Автор: Кулинка Елена Сергеевна

Educational institutions are oriented toward improving the quality of the educational process and the effectiveness of learning a foreign language. During XX century linguistics, psychology, methodology and didactics solve a number of interrelated problems of learning and mastery of foreign language learners of all ages and levels of education. In particular, it is important for school and university methodology problem that the assimilation of language is a process, which is not particularly clear. Some words and phrases are memorized easily for the assimilation while others require special exercise. But with differentiated work students can take an active lexical minimum.

If the student can perform the equivalent of the word of the native language, does this mean that he knows the word? Apparently, he does. Does this mean that the student will correctly use the same words in expressing his thoughts? Most likely, no, it is not.

If the student, seeing a foreign word, learns it, but he does not understand the meaning. Does this mean that he knows the word? Yes, he knows it. But is this knowledge enough for reading texts, not to mention foreign language communication? Of course, it is not.

Vocabulary is one of the most important parts of the teaching process. Vocabulary is a stock of words that every language contains. Vocabulary is the basis of every language. Teacher has to introduce the new language in such a way as to capture the students’ attention and place the words in their memories. So that to progress in vocabulary learning students need to be aware of some techniques for memorizing lots of new words. Vocabulary learning can often be seen as a difficult process of memorizing lists of unrelated terms. Nevertheless, there are many interesting and successful ways of learning and teaching vocabulary in the ESL classroom.

What is vocabulary? Vocabulary is a set of words of a language. The words that people use in their practice of speech, oral or written, shall constitute an active vocabulary. Vocabulary in the language is an essential component of language skills: listening and speaking, reading and writing. The richer and more varied vocabulary a person has, the easier it is it uses his language.

The main purpose of learning the lexical material is to develop student’s vocabulary skills as an essential component of expressive and receptive types of speech activity.

There is a scale for languages for the reception, production, and interaction, which gives an idea those students, should be able to start to learn a language [1].

Vocabulary skills are characterized by greater awareness, which is shown in its choice of words, in combination with other words and according to the purpose of communication. Also there are some lexical skills such as operations on the analysis of words, word-formation and constructing word combinations.

Increased attention to this aspect of foreign language speech has several reasons:

1) every expression depends on the level of knowledge of a foreign language;

2) new vocabulary is not homogeneous in its psychological and psycholinguistic characteristics;

3) vocabulary is considered as the base language;

4) vocabulary skills are an important component of these types of speech activities such as listening, reading and speaking;

5) there is a need to systemize previously studied lexical units.

On the teaching skills of vocabulary items A. W. Frisby [2] said that "While the teacher is not concerned with the actual selection of vocabulary for text book purposes since practically all the books we use are based on limited vocabularies, it is important that he/she (the teacher) should know the principles, which underlie vocabulary selection". Hereby it means that a teacher should be proficient and innovative in the application of methodologies pertaining to teaching vocabulary items in a classroom situation. These are the main methodologies for teaching vocabulary items.

A good option in teaching vocabulary items can be careful listening to the words in a heterogenic classroom. "Let the students hear the word in isolation and in a sentence. If the sounds of the word have been mastered, the students will hear it correctly with two or three repetitions." [3] Slow pronunciation without distortion will help. It will be also useful to break the word into several parts and build up to the whole new word.

Pronouncing the word enables the students to remember it longer and identify it more readily when they hear or see it.

When using methods of grasping the meaning, the teacher should try to get the meaning to the class without using translation. This is not preferable on the ground that translation may or may not provide the meaning of the word accurately and precisely. It is advocated as it enables the class to go without grasping the meaning of a word that they have learned to pronounce rather than to depend upon the translation.

Teaching vocabulary can be passive and active. Students need to possess active and passive vocabulary knowledge.

There are three basic second or foreign language word acquisition levels [4]:

1. Unknown / new word - a learner does not know the word, never saw it written, and never heard of it.

2. Passive word: a) the learner heard the word in the past but he/she is not sure about its meaning now; b)the learner can recognize/ understand the meaning of the word only when it is written; c) the learner cannot spell the word but can pronounce it; d) the learner can write / spell the word correctly but cannot pronounce it correctly; e) the learner heard the word (or saw it written), however, s/he cannot use the word in speech; f) the learner can recognize the word only when it is pronounced by someone, however, s/he cannot spell it correctly.

3. Active word - the learner can use the word fluently and correctly in all situations, in its written and spoken form.

The most important for comprehension is teaching passive vocabulary. When students listen to speakers they need to possess some active vocabulary. They should have enough knowledge of words used by others to comprehend their meaning. This is also called receptive knowledge of the language.

Active vocabulary is the most important for advanced learners. Students need to have not only some language knowledge but creativity. They should create their own sentences and use their vocabulary. Students use the words they can understand and manipulate in order to use for their own personal expression. This is called productive knowledge.

Teaching vocabulary needs clear understanding of words to know what is actually being said. Students need to be able to carry this knowledge over into the real world in phrases and sentences. Teacher needs to find the meaning of words so that students can fit the words together, build sentences and create their own expressions.

When students are taught new words, they need to understand these essential principles [1]:

- Meaning of the word – its definition

- Context - how can this word be used in real

- Spelling – correct spelling of

- Pronunciation - how will they say this word? Will the sound they produce be stressed correctly and to the standard of speech?

- Grammar –part of speech, positions in a sentence

- Stress

- Accent - the pitch, tone and length of the word

- Purpose- what purpose this word has

- Collocation

- Cliche`- this word or phrase is so overused that it lost its original meaning

There are some effective strategies for teaching vocabulary. These are explicit (intentional) and implicit strategies (spontaneous).

Explicit vocabulary instructions are the following.

Pre-teaching vocabulary words (when reading texts students need to define new unfamiliar words, and then discuss them and their meaning with a teacher).

Repeated exposure of words (students need to repeat and use new words for several times before it becomes a part of their vocabulary).

Keyword method (words are presented to students before reading the text by giving them keywords (a part of definition, illustrative example or image). It helps to remember the meaning of the word).

Word maps (students write down new words and characterize them according to several categories (classification, qualities and examples). It develops complete understanding of the words).

Root analysis (students analyze words by defining their roots and definitions; they break down unfamiliar words into prefixes, roots and suffixes).

Restructuring reading materials (this strategy is used for improving students’ vocabularies; unknown words can be replaced by synonyms; teacher restructure materials in different ways so that to help students to understand them more easily).

Implicit instructions are the following.

Incidental learning (a word is used a text so that students can determine its meaning).

Context skills are the strategies that are used for incidental vocabulary learning. There are lots of “clues” that help to guess the meaning of the words (illustrations, pictures, captions, titles).

In foreign language teaching methodology, it is proposed to use the method of game. It is quite interesting and effective in the process of learning foreign languages. This method can be used at any stage with a specific adaptation for each specific age. Using this method is intended to create a favorable psychological atmosphere of communication, and it helps students to see real foreign language communication.

The game is one of the methods for teaching foreign language; especially it is commonly used for junior training. With the help of game, it creates a natural communicative game of interest and activity of children. In addition, the elements of competition in the game, the desire to win the attention of students mobilize and train their memory. Games contribute to more successful mastering of new lexical material. [5]

Games are used for various purposes: the introduction of a new lexical material, fixing it in memory of students and developing their speaking skills. Vocabulary games are designed to:

- acquaint students with new words and their combinations;

- train students to use vocabulary in situations close to the natural environment;

- increase intellectual activities of students;

- develop verbal reaction.

Teaching vocabulary includes several methods [7].

Sometimes teachers can use word cards or simple flash cards. The teacher write the definition of the words, a sentence containing this word, its synonyms, pronunciation on one side of the card and the word on the other. This is the most successful method of learning new words. Students can carry their new vocabulary around with them to look at whenever they have the opportunity.

Formation and development of lexical skills to some extent, contribute to spelling game. Its main objective is the development of spelling vocabulary study. Most games can be used as training exercises.

The purpose of spelling games is an exercise in writing foreign words. Part of the game is designed to train students’ memory, while others are based on certain regularities in the spelling of words. Most games can be used to check homework.

The word association technique is another successful method. The words are stored together in sentences and phrases.

Visual techniques include cards with pictures and diagrams. In this way, words are remembered by their color or position on a page or their association with other words, pictures or phrases.

Brainstorming is not less important. The key word should be written on the blackboard and the new vocabulary relating to it can be written around it. This method helps to keep students interested.

So that to check students’ understanding of new vocabulary teacher may ask them to match new words from one column with definitions from another column. Sometimes teacher can mix the definition. It helps to check if students understand the meaning of new words.

Knowing a word does not just know its meaning but knowing the context, this word is used. Students should know where to use new words. Also students are to know some hidden implications that can be connected with the word. Idioms are frequently spread. Idioms are common features of every day language and are an important step in language learning. They can be introduced through authentic reading materials. Learning collocations are also important. They can be grammatical and lexical. Grammatical collocations are when a noun, verb or adjective occur alongside a preposition. Lexical collocations consist of combinations of lexical items. Lexical phrases are good for teachers to include in lessons as another way of improving the natural sound [6].

When reading the text it is necessary to get to know the word and to understand its meaning. While speaking students need to recall every word automatically, quickly and combine it with other words.

It is something more than knowledge of words, it is possession of them. It is based on the lexical skills. We must always remember that the desired goal should be to own the words, not their knowledge. Therefore, we should have such a number of words, no matter to what type of speech activities these words are necessary.

Sometimes words may have different meanings. The meaning of the word depends on the context, prefixes and suffixes. Teaching the prefixes and suffixes can help students to understand the meaning of a word. Prefixes and suffixes can help to introduce new words easily. Teaching students the common prefixes and suffixes can help students to improve their vocabulary by recognizing these other derived words.

Thus, vocabulary is the basic tool for communication and knowledge. It enables people to send information to others, to interpret facts, opinions and views, and to express ourselves. Vocabulary is a collection of words and phrases in language. Teaching vocabulary to students so that they have large, expansive word knowledge and then understand the meaning behind the words, enables them to effectively express themselves clearly and in detail. Knowing and understanding a vast collection of words, where they fit and how they function in sentence structure is vitally important.


1. Гальперин П.Я. Современная методика английского языка. – М.: Просвещение, 1995.

2. Frisby A.W. (1957), "Teaching English", The English Language Book Society and Longmans Green and Co..

3. Robert Lado (1964), "Language Teaching: A Scientific Approach", McGraw Hill: New York.

4. Конышева А.В. Игровой метод в обучении иностранному языку. – СПб., 2006.

5. Кувшинкин В.И. Методика обучения иностранному языку в начальной школе. – М.: Просвещение, 2000.

6. Соловьева Е.Н. Методика обучения иностранным языкам. Базовый курс. – М.: Просвещение, 2005.

7. Варежкина Н.В. Методика английского языка. – М.: Просвещение, 1999.

8. http://iteslj.org/Techniques/Mehta-Vocabulary.Html

К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2012

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