Teach English in Mangnong Zhen - Chifeng Shi

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One of the main reasons to learn a new language is to communicate. To be able to communicate well, one has to know a lot of words. Van der Nulft, & Verhallen (2002) argue that there are three principles to consider when learning vocabulary to children: 1. Tagging 2. Categorize 3. Network building The more words someone learns, the larger one’s network becomes. These connections are important for the way one teaches new words. Teaching random words is not effective, because these are harder to memorize without any context. Therefore, on the one hand the words have to be useful and meaningful for the learners. On the other hand, frequency is an important aspect to bear in mind when choosing to teach certain words or not. The words have to be able to connect with other words, so you can expand your network. To visualize those networks of groups of words, you can use graphic models, such as a ‘word-spider’, ‘word-umbrella’ and a ‘word-stairs’. Van der Nulft, & Verhallen tell us that there are four steps to teach vocabulary. The first step is called 'Preparing', where you activate the foreknowledge of the student. The second step is 'Explaining', where you explain the words by telling what it means, by portraying the words (if that is possible), by connecting the words with other words, and by pronouncing the words. The next step is 'Consolidation'. The learners practice those words until the words and meanings are memorized by playing all kinds of short games. The last step is 'Checking' if the students actually remember all those new words. According to the International TEFL and TESOL Training (2011), it is also important during the explaining step to teach how and when to use a word in an appropriate way, where the word belongs grammatically, how it interacts and affects other words, and how it is written. They also claim that the best way to teach vocabulary is to use a so-called straight arrow ESA approach. First there is the 'Engage' stage, where it is important to get the students talking and thinking in English. You can use realia, pictures or start a discussion about the subject for example. The next step is the 'Study' stage. Now you can explain the words that you want to teach and do some exercises, such as crosswords, gap-fill exercises and drilling. The last step is the 'Activate' stage, where you put the new vocabulary into a realistic context. Here, the students can do a role-play game or have a debate. There are some differences between the two approaches. For instance, Van der Nulft, & Verhallen use graphic models to visualize the networks of groups of words and the International TEFL and TESOL Training do exercises during the study stage. However, there are also similarities. They both find it important to start with conversation and activating the foreknowledge. In addition, both have in common that they practice the new vocabulary in as many different ways, as often as possible. Therefore, it seems to me that both perspectives can be used to teach students new vocabulary. They complement each other, rather than they got in the way. References: - Nulft, D. van der & Verhallen, M. (2002) Met woorden in de weer. Bussum: Uitgeverij Couthino - International TEFL and TESOL Training (2011) Unit 7 Teaching new language