How to do Vocabulary Teaching in Middle School

By Esther Hawkins,2014-08-28 16:40
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1 How to do Vocabulary Teaching in Middle School Abstract: Word is one of the three basic language units. It is essential to communication. Without vocabulary we can convey nothing, therefore, vocabulary teaching is an indispensable part of English curriculum. But some traditional vocabulary-teaching methods seem to isolate the words fr..

    How to do Vocabulary Teaching in Middle School

    Abstract: Word is one of the three basic language units. It is essential to communication. Without vocabulary we can convey nothing, therefore, vocabulary teaching is an indispensable part of English curriculum. But some traditional vocabulary-teaching methods seem to isolate the words from the context or break away from the scientific rules. They can’t help students to develop a language competence in the long run but cause them to lose interest in English. Middle school English teachers should pay attention it, since they are the premier ones who introduce students to the field of English .In this paper, I would provide six scientific vocabulary-teaching techniques. I think they could be valuable for middle school English teachers during their teaching process.

    Key words: technique, vocabulary, context, competence






    Abstract„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„i Contents„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„iii Introduction„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„1 1 The importance of vocabulary teaching in middle school„„„„2 1.1 The importance of word„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„2 1.2 The importance of vocabulary teaching in English curriculum2 2. The vocabulary teaching methods of middle school„„„„„„3 2.1 Three distinguishing features of English vocabulary„„„„„„3 2.2 The drawbacks of several traditional vocabulary teaching methods5 2.3 Six scientific methods of teaching vocabulary„„„„„„„„10 2.4 The useful of scientific methods in vocabulary teaching „„„„15 3. The importance of keeping student interested and encouraged in

    learning vocabulary„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„16 3.1 The importance of keeping student interested in learning vocabulary17 3.2 The importance of encourage student to learning vocabulary„„„17 Conclusion„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„18 Bibliography„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„19 Acknowledgements„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„„20



    In China, English teachers have sometimes tended to overlook the importance of lexical system. This is especially obvious in the middle school. This phenomenon might have resulted from the fact that linguists have worked out a perfect equivalent Chinese vocabulary system to English vocabulary system, so that teachers and students can more easily deal with the vocabulary than with the grammar and sound of English which are quite different from the Chinese grammar and sound system. Lexical items may also have appeared to be of secondary importance because they have sometimes been seen as that which is used to “flesh out” the structure or to exemplify parts of the sound system. However, without lexicon the major meaning-caring element in language is missing. Therefore, the acquisition of vocabulary is an integral part of English teaching. On the other hand, there are teachers who have tended to overemphasize the learning of words in the lengthy vocabulary lists. The solution is to seek scientific techniques of vocabulary teaching, so, in the following part, I will discuss three topics: I. The importance of vocabulary teaching in middle school. II: The vocabulary teaching methods of middle school. III The useful of scientific techniques of vocabulary teaching.


    1 The important of vocabulary teaching in middle school 1.1 The importance of word

    Word is one of the three basic language units (sound. word. Grammar ). It is essential to communication. One of the famous linguists wilkins once said that,” without grammar very little can be conveyed, without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed .”(wilkins .ENGLISH STUDY, Foreign language

    study Institute,1987).

    1.2 The importance of vocabulary teaching in English curriculum

     Little children learn to speak in isolated words and then in chains of nouns and verbs. A child who says “Mum bye-bye bike is easily understood

    by English-speaking adult. Students who are immersed into a new linguistic settling tend to pick up vocabulary first, and then gradually develop a more accurate, structural framework in which to use these words. And they must continually be learning words as they learn structures and as they practice the sound system.. Therefore, vocabulary teaching is an important part of English lessons in middle school, and an important task for the teachers. Weather a middle school English teacher can follow scientific methods to teach vocabulary or not directly bring good or bad influence toward the students. If his methods are suitable for the students and beneficial for them in the long run, he could arouse their interest on English and help them to develop a solid foundation of language acquisition ability; whereas if he fails to do so, it


might result in the students′ diffidence toward themselves and might cause

    them to disgust English.

2. The Vocabulary teaching methods of Middle School

    2.1 Three distinguishing features of English Vocabulary

    Before studying the better techniques in Vocabulary teaching, we had better know about the characteristics of English words. English words. English words are quite different from Chinese characters, the former one is a spelling system While the later is a stroke system, English words have three distinguishing features:

    i. Firstly, the pronunciation of each word is corresponded to its Spelling, for example, look at the following two lists of words:

    ?old, cold, hold, whole, so[ ]

    ?smart, artist, mark, garden [ ]

    In list? the letter “o” in the five words are all pronounced as [ ];and in list ?the letter combination “ar” in the four words are pronounced as [ ].If

    students have noticed this relationship between English pronunciation and spelling, they would be easier in pronouncing and memorizing new words. But with a long history of development and variation, and with the influence by other languages, the spelling of English words dont always observe this

    rule ;for example, the letter “u” is pronounced differently in the following



    Truth[u:],Uncle[ ], Until[ ], full[ ], music[ ] In another case, with the influence of American accent, the word “clerk[ ]” is also pronounced as [ ]

    ii. Another feature of English words is that they frequently have more than one meaning. The word “book”, for example, obviously refers to

    something you use to read from (a written work in the form of)a set of printed pages fastened together inside a cover, as a thing to be read. According to one learners dictionary. But the same dictionary then goes on to list eight more meanings of “book” as a noun, tow meanings of “book” as a verb and three

    meanings where “book” +preposition makes phrasal verbs. So we will have to say that the word “book” sometimes means the kind of thing you read from,

    but it can also mean a number of other things. In other words, students need to understand the importance of meaning in context.

    iii. The third characteristic is that English words can change their shape and their grammatical values, too. Students need to know facts about word formation and how to twist words to fit different grammatical contexts. Thus the verb “run” has the participles running and ran, the present

    participle running can be used as an adjective and run can also be a

    none .There is a clear relationship between the words death, dead,

    dying and die. Students also need to know how suffixes and

    prefixes work. How can we make the words potent and .expensive opposite in meaning. Why do we preface one with in and the other with in? Knowing the three distinguishing characteristics of English vocabulary will help teachers to


deliver vocabulary teaching.

    2.2 The drawbacks of several traditional vocabulary teaching methods

    i. Teach words in isolation

     Middle school English teachers in china usually ask students to learn vocabulary lists in which words are isolated from the context. In one case ,they let the students pick out all the new words in the text ,list them on a paper, and consult the dictionary for the Chinese or English meanings; for example, “display” mean “show”, “arrive” means “reach”. In another case,

    they try to get the students to associate each word with an image or an object; for example, they hold up a picture of a car and say “This is a car.” Both these

    teaching techniques imply that learning vocabulary means learning individual word one at a time. These two methods may save time and be fast-effective. However, the relationships between words are as important as the meaning of the word in isolation: how “car” contrasts with bus and “truck”, and how it

    is related to “driver” and “engine” are as important as the word itself.

    Neglecting the study of the relationships in English vocabulary system might result in students′ slowness in comprehension and inappropriateness in

    exploiting the English words. Being taught in these ways without a change, students might have difficulty in working out the meanings of some words, such as “time” in the following three sentences.

    ii. Teach English words in one to one correspondence to Chinese words.

     Many English teachers tend to teach English words in one to one


correspondence to Chinese words; for example ,English “glass” is “玻璃”in

    Chinese, English “cup” is “茶杯”in Chinese, and so on. This traditional

    translation teaching method which has been adopted in china for a long time is considered to be helpful. But in the long run the overuse of this method is harmful to the development of students′ language competence. Especially in

    the elementary stage, this method should be avoided as possible as it can be. When students say that they know the meaning of an English word, the usually mean that they have found an equivalent word in Chinese language, but this equivalent word may be misleading. Let′s take the word “with” for

    example. in the sentence of “I have milk for breakfast”, the word “word” in

    Chinese culture refers to hot milk, because Chinese people are used to dink milk hot ; while the word “word” in the American culture refers to cold milk,

    because Americans never drink boiled milk as we Chinese do. This example shows us that the same word “milk has different social meanings in different

    cultures, In fact, many linguists believe that no word can be exactly translated into another language. Learning the vocabulary of a second language is not just to memorize the equivalent words of language one, but to learn the meaning relationship between “milk” and all other words in English within

    the context of cultural life.

    iii. Treat all words equally

    Some English teachers treat all vocabulary equally. That is ,they generally imply that students should be able to produce all vocabulary


    presented. But as is suggested by the linguists that words can be classified into receptive vocabulary and productive vocabulary .according to the needs, language levels and professions of the learners. They point out that all speakers are able to recognize more words them they usually use on a productive level. Productive vocabulary is that utilized in everyday speech. Receptive vocabulary, on the other hand, although needed for comprehension, is not necessarily essential for production in speaking and writing. Teachers who do notice this fact ask students to concentrate equally on the acquisition of both receptive vocabulary and productive vocabulary. This method of vocabulary teaching adds much burden to students, and would cause them to become tired of vocabulary learning.

    iv. Neglecting the cooperation of sense organs

    According to the experiments of linguists, an average English learner will better remember a new word and make it become an active one if he observes, speaks out ,hears and writes as well as recites it .But many teachers seem to be unaware of this rule that there are not a few students remember vocabulary by incorrect ways. On one hand, they treat the new words as if they are telephone numbers. They read the new words letter by letter without observing the Pronunciation rules. For example, when they read the word “classroom”, they do it in this way: “c-l-a-s-s-r-o-o-m, classroom” instead of

    “cl[ ]-[ ]-[ ]-[ ]-[ ]-[ ]-[ ]-[ ]-[ ]-, classroom”. This stupid method adds the

    difficulty in memorizing new words. On the other hand, since the teachers do


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