Teaching Vocabulary We have chosen to write on this topic


We have chosen to write on this topic because we believe that vocabulary acquisition and development, like learning, is a lifelong process. Therefore teaching vocabulary is a very important aspect of an English teacher's curriculum. Vocabulary, or understanding the meaning of words, is the key to understanding the meaning of a dialogue or written passage. No educator would disagree with this statement,  however how we should teach vocabulary most effectively is a hotly debated topic and the subject of a great deal of research. A typical traditional vocabulary acquisition activity is to look up dictionary definitions, writing each word in a sentence and then memorizing word meanings for a test. This may not be the best method. In fact it may accomplish very little. Recent research has shown that it may not be necessary, or even desirable because of the time required, to teach all new vocabulary items in the traditional way.  Further this research has shown that (1) it is not necessary to know every word in order to understand a passage or a dialogue and (2) teaching all the new words will not necessarily increase understanding. If we accept these two points then the logical conclusion is that teachers should devote their time to teaching only a limited number of new words.  There are two criteria useful for selecting which new words should be selected for inclusion in vocabulary instruction. !. Teach words that are essential for understanding a reading selection.  For instance the teacher could ask "if readers did not know the meaning of this word, would they still be able to understand the passage'" In other words, avoid teaching vocabulary words just because they are highlighted in some way or because they appear in a list at the end of a chapter, or that will be of little use to the student after the test, etc. 2. Teach words that are common or generally usefull for students to know. Students in a particular level can be expected to become familiar with certain words that they will encounter frequently in the future, words that represent common knowledge. These vocabulary words are the ones that should be taught, not words that the student will rarely encounter again.  There are several things that a teacher could do to expand each student's vocabulary and therefore improve his speaking and reading. 1.Teach words in related clusters Words are not separate and disconnected units that need to be learned in isolation. Synonyms, antonyms and root words are a few examples of the connections that exist between words. To teach words as separate entities in a list is to ignore the richness of the language and to trivialize vocabulary learning. When a teacher provides the meaning of a new word he should focus on its relationship with other words. Readers and speakers comprehend and learn better when they are able to connect the new vocabulary with something they already know. One teaching technique that we have found helpful is to have students brainstorm whatever comes to mind when they are presented with a new word. This facilitates connections. 2. Provide multiple opportunities for active student involvement in vocabulary acquisition A student needs more that a brief exposure to a new word. Students need many opportunities over an extended period of time to see the word in a variety of contexts. They need to actively read, hear, write, and speak the word  so it can become internalized and become part of their active vocabulary. Students need to be active learners and participants in their vocabulary acquisition. All types of word sort games, multiple definition work sheets, cross word puzzles are helpful activities here and would work well in the Study phase of a lesson. 3. Provide time and opportunity to read  Research has shown that the single most important thing a teacher can do to promote vocabulary growth is to increase their students' volume of reading. More opportunities to read along with the direct teaching of word meanings is a very effective combination. Other effective practices in vocabulary instruction include: Generating student discussions that center on the use of a new term, teaching strategies that enable students to learn vocabulary independently, and making connections between old and new vocabulary.   Resources: Stratregies related to vocabularywww. muskingum.edu The Literacy web at the University of Connecticutwww. literacy.ucon.edu Vocabulary Universitywww.vocabulary.com The Clarifying Routine: Elaborating Vocabulary Instructionwww.idonline.org Vocabulary Instruction in Secondary Schoolswww.indiana.edu Web English Teacher-Vocabulary and Spellingwww.webenglishteacher.com Vocabulary Workshopwww.southampton.liunet.edu Litsite Alaskawww.litsite.alaska.edu