Words words words:
some ideas about learning vocabulary in English
Por Sandra Llamero Soto
Vocabulary is the Everest of a language; there is no larger task than to look for order among the hundreds of thousands of words which comprise the lexicon.
Have you ever happened that you know what you want to say but you struggle to find just the right word? As teachers, not only do we feel responsible for our own use of language, we also feel compelled to focus on vocabulary study so that our students are exposed to rich, expressive language.
For many years teachers have been teaching vocabulary the same way they were taught. Assigned lists of words, then ask students to look them up in dictionaries and write them in sentences to finally reach the weekly tests. But it has been proved that these exercises did not increase their speaking, reading or writing abilities. The communicative competence, as it is stated in the Common European Framework has implemented the understanding and learning of vocabulary as a communicative means, not as an end itself.
Often teachers will write a word/phrase on the board and ask students what the word means. Or else, they will often ask students to underline all the words in a text and then deal with the meanings. So teachers start teaching vocabulary from the form (the word itself) and then go to the meaning.
But, can we make vocabulary learning more memorable by changing that order around? Can we start with the meaning and then move on to the form? After all, if you think of the word “lemon” what usually comes first: the meaning (idea of a lemon) or saying it (the form)?
In other words, can we present the meaning and elicit the word? Is it really worth changing the model teachers have been using for decades? I hope so. There are several techniques to make vocabulary more relevant and memorable to students of English, some are even rather funny! So, if you want to understand and produce language using a wide variety of vocabulary, come to the School and find them out!