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Learning And Teaching Vocabulary For A Second Language

923 words - 4 pages

“Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things.” (Flora Lewis, 2000) For as long as there are languages and for as there are languages, there are people studying and teaching it, but is there one way of teaching a language that is the right way? There are many aspects to learn a language, for the sake of the assignment I have been appointed only one aspect namely: Learning and teaching vocabulary.

In this report I will be comparing my views on teaching with those of an experienced teacher ,a learner and three experts, using: Concept maps, interviews and pre-assigned articles. I’ll explore a little of second language vocabulary acquisition, theories and strategies of learning and teaching vocabulary.

While creating my concept map there were four main pillars my theories rest on, namely: Time, context, balance and variation. I believe these elements are essential for teaching and learning any aspect of a language. Within these four pillars, I distinguish two different types of essentials: Time and context, to fully understand a word - Fully understanding a word means full receptive and productive comprehension. - And ‘balance and variation’ to make the learning of a word easier and more enjoyable. Arguably, time does also fit into the latter.

Time is of the essence in learning, because words only register incrementally in our system according to Jenkins, Stein and Wysocki, a learner needs six encounters with a word before it is in the permanent system. While Barcroft suggests that there have to be 5 to 16 ‘meetings’ with a word before a learner fully absorbs it’s meaning, behavior, use and pronunciation.

Whereas, Context helps to extend the knowledge of a word far beyond the lexical meaning for the word, because that is not the only meaning a word has, take the word ‘Catch’. “This word has seven different meanings as a verb; five meanings as a noun and sixteen derivative words, idiomatic expressions and phrases.” (Jennifer Hixson, 2012)

Then there is balance and variation, to me these go hand-in-hand when it comes to teaching, because I believe that learning, even the prosaic task of learning words, should be made enjoyable. This can be easily achieved by varying exercises and balancing lessons so that none of the elements of language learning is either underappreciated or overly emphasized. This, however, does not imply that I do not believe in repetition, I simply believe that different styles of exercises should be used to convey the same message.

The interview with the teacher - Ad van Bever ESL teacher at vocational college NOVA college in Haarlem - revealed that our beliefs are almost imperceptible - This due partially if not wholly by the fact that I have been his student for the two final years of my standard-issue English education, during this...

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