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Summaries Chapter Three
Learning and Teaching Vocabulary

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Summary Chapter 3: Learning and teaching vocabulary

How can we learn and teach vocabulary? The L1 and the L2 sets of vocabulary in the L2 user’s mind can be related in various ways and are closely linked. Frequency is only one factor in the choice of words to teach.Meanings of words include general components, lexical relations an  prototypes and levels, some universal, some language specific. Strategies for using vocabulary include guessing, using dictionaries, deducing meaning from the word’s form and relating it to cognates and strategies for acquiring words include repetition and organising them in the memory. Teaching words means fitting in with the students' strategies, teaching basic level words first, teaching lexical relationships, and using components of meaning.


Frequency of words

– Frequency is usually established nowadays from a large corpus of a language, such as the British National Corpus (BNC) for English.

– Words vary extremely in how often they are used.

– Frequency is only one factor in the choice of words to teach



Knowing a word

   Knowing a word means knowing its spoken and written forms, its grammatical and lexical properties and its meaning.

   Vocabulary impinges on all areas of language acquisition and is not just learning sets of words and meanings.


Words in the L2 userís mind

The L1 and the L2 sets of vocabulary in the L2 userís mind may be related in various ways, ranging from completely separate to completely integrated.

– Research suggests that in many cases the two vocabulary stores are closely linked.


Ways of meaning

 Words have many different kinds of meaning, whether sharing general components, linked in lexical relations or related to prototypes and levels.

  While some aspects of meaning are universal, there are differences between languages in how they express concepts of colour etc, which may affect the thinking of L2 users.


Vocabulary Strategies

– To understand an unfamiliar L2 word, people make use of a variety of strategies such as guessing, using dictionaries, deducing meaning from the wordís form and relating it to cognates.

To acquire new L2 words, people use strategies such as repetition, organising them in the mind, and linking them to existing knowledge


Vocabulary and Teaching

 – teach the complexity of words
  – fit in with the students' strategies
  – teach basic level words first
  – teach lexical relationships
  – think about the first presentation of the word
  – teach some words through components of meaning
  – remember it is how the word is practiced, not how often, that is important
  – remember students transfer L1 meanings as well as the words themselves
  – put words in their structural context