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How to Teach English Vocabulary in a Communicative Classroom

By Danny Alexander,2014-08-30 09:59
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How to Teach English Vocabulary in a Communicative Classroom

    AbstractIn this paper, the author firstly introduces the role of vocabulary teaching in second language Teaching (SLT) and demonstrates the development of each method and approach of language teaching systems including the Grammar Translation Method (GTM),the Direct Method (DM),Audio lingual Method (ALM),and Communicative Language Teaching (CLT).The descriptions and comparison of all the methods and approaches above are in order to elicit that CLT is the most effective in teaching lexical part of the language system. Have elaborated that must persist in these six in CLT, such as “learner -centered instruction, “cooperative and cluabratiue learning”, interacting

    learning” and so on ,but on CLT-based Vocabulary Instruction by using giving examples and making compare of different languages are more popular. Meanwhile, the teacher should take into account individual differences during second language learning ,and choose three sorts of those differences, motivation, anxiety and “risk-taking”, the

    teacher should use some practical, useful applicable in CLT. In addition, the anther also said that doing vocabulary teaching in interacting learning will get twice the result with half the effort.

    Keywords: communicative language teaching, cognitive and met cognitive

    strategies, individual difference, vocabulary teaching

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     要!作者首先引入了第二语言教学中“词汇教学”一词,并阐述了语言教学体系中各种教学方法的发展,这些教学方法包括“语言翻译法”、“直接教学法”、“双语教学法”、和“交际教学法”。对所有口述教学法的描述比较,我们得出“交际教学法”是语言体系中词汇教学最有效的方法。在“交际法中”必须坚持六项原则!以学习者为中心、合作教学、互相配合等等。而在以“交际教学法”为基础的不同语言词汇教学中,使用举例、比较的方法尤为实用。同时,教师在第二语言教学中应注意个人的差异,并选择“动机”、“渴望”、和“冒风险”这三个差异,并在交际教学法课堂中适当采用一些实用并适当的有益的实践活动。此外,作者认为在互动中进行词汇教学会起到事半功倍的作用。

    关键词!交际法语言教学,认识和认识后策略,个体差异,词汇教学

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    Contents

    Abstract………………………………………………………………………i Contents……………………………………………………………………iii Introduction…………………………………………………………………1 1. Background………………………………………………………………1 1.1 The history of second language teaching……………………………1 1.2 The role of vocabulary in each of the methods………………………2 2. Communicative Language Teaching ……………………………………4 2.1 The background of CLT………………………………………………4 2.2 The definition of CLT…………………………………………………5 2.3 The principles of CLT …………………………………………………6 2.4 The relationship of CLT and other teaching methods…………………7 3. CLT-based Vocabulary Instruction……………………………………8 3.1 The necessary of CLT-based vocabulary instruction and the linguistic

    competence……………………………………………………………………8 3.2 Knowing a word meaning……………………………………………9 3.3 Individual differences among learners………………………………11 3.4 The role of errors in vocabulary instruction…………………………13 3.5 Useful activities for teaching vocabulary ……………………………14 3.6 Learning strategies …………………………………………………16 Conclusion…………………………………………………………………17 Bibliography………………………………………………………………18 Acknowledgement…………………………………………………………19

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Introduction

    Vocabulary is one of the elements that make up the English language. Needless to say, how well a language teacher teaches English vocabulary correlates closely with how well she/he handles the entire language. Therefore, the importance of vocabulary teaching can‟t be overemphasized. But oddly

    enough, until quite recently the role of vocabulary teaching and acquisition has been neglected more or less for some reasons or other. In this paper, the author demonstrates that among a number of methods that have thus far appeared on the stage of language teaching, Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) is the best and most successful method in vocabulary teaching.

1. Background

    In order to have a fuller understanding of what CLT is and how it has come into being, it is necessary to take a brief look at the history of Second Language Teaching (SLT) and the role of vocabulary teaching in each of the methods. For the sake of convenience, the author focuses the attention on major teaching methods.

    1.1 The history of second Language Teaching

    When we deal with the history of language teaching, the Grammar Translation Method (GTM) emerges as the first comer. GTM was originally used to teach Latin or Greek in the Western world and in the nineteenth

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    century it was first applied to teaching languages other than those two. In GTM, second language (L2) was taught primarily in the mother tongue (L1) by means of translation from L2 to L1 and scant attention was given to content of texts. And vocabulary was dealt with in isolation simply through rote learning. Richards and Rodgers (1986: 5) mention:

     It is a method for which there is no theory. There is no literature that offers a rationale or justification for it or that attempts to relate it to issues in linguistics, psychology, or educational theory.

    1.2 The role of vocabulary in each of the methods

    At the turn of the 20th century, the Direct Method (DM), one of the well-known “natural methods”, was widely practiced and popularized as a reaction against GTM. By this method, L2 teaching in the classroom was carried out exclusively in L2 with an emphasis on oral interaction and spontaneous use of natural language rather than written and stilted language characteristic of GTM. Only everyday vocabulary was taught by means of realia and association of ideas in light of concrete vocabulary and abstract vocabulary respectively. Finally, it is worth mentioning that according to Brown (2001: 22), DM is a theoretically ill-founded method.

     In the 1950s the Audiolingual Method (ALM) came to the fore to replace DM as a main teaching method. Based on structural linguistics and psychological behaviorism, ALM stressed speaking and listening and viewed language learning as habit-formation, and L2 teaching was conducted chiefly

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    by way of repetitive drills and imitation practices mainly in the form of dialogues. Vocabulary was very simple and limited and learned in context (Prator and Celce-Murcia, 1979, in Brown, 2001: 22-23).

     The 1970s saw the emergence of communicative language teaching (CLT), the Notional-Functional Syllabus (NFS) and some other lesser methods. CLT will be thoroughly treated in the next part. So here only NFS is briefly explored. In Richards, Platt and Platt (2000: 314), NFS is defined as “(in language teaching) a syllabus in which the language content is arranged

    according to the meanings a learner needs to express through language and the functions the learner will use the language for”. Wilkins (1976: 19) comments:

     The advantage of the notional syllabus is that it takes the communicative facts of language into account from the beginning without losing sight of grammatical and situational factors. It is potentially superior to the grammatical syllabus because it will produce a communicative competence and because its evident concern with the use of language will sustain the motivation of the learners. It is superior to the situational syllabus because it can ensure that the most important grammatical forms are included and because it can cover all kinds of language functions, not only those that typically occur in certain situations.

     In NFS, the importance of vocabulary acquisition is underplayed to the extent that relevant theoretical and pedagogical literature is not easy to come

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    by (Zimmerman, 2001: 13). According to Paulston (in Johnson and Johnson, 2001: 232), NFS “is quite a theoretical; it says nothing about how languages

    are learned”.

     Last but by no means least, with the development of computer technology and multimedia, computer assisted instruction (CAI) in language teaching has been gaining momentum these years. Warschauer and Healey (in Brown, 2001: 145) list the following benefits of computer-assisted language learning (CALL): multimodal practice with feedback; individualization in a large class; pair and small-group work on projects, either collaboratively or competitively; the fun factor; variety in the resources available and learning styles used; exploratory learning with amounts of language data; and real-life skill-building in computer use. But computers have limitations. For example, Kenning (1983: 4) mentioned that “they [computers] operate in a predetermined fashion and cannot cope with the unexpected”.

2. Communicative Language Teaching

    2.1 The background of CLT

    In the first half of the 20th century, structural linguistics played a major role in Europe and the United States. But in the 1950s, with the publication of Syntactic Structures, Chomsky spearheaded a sweeping campaign against structuralism, and his theory, later known as transformational generative grammar (TG grammar), has got the upper hand in the linguistic arena ever

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    since. Central to the TG grammar are the two concepts, competence and performance. Chomsky remarks “we thus make a fundamental distinction

    between competence (the speaker-hearer‟s knowledge of the language), and

    performance (the actual use of the language in concrete situations)” (1965: 4). He comments:

     Linguistic theory is concerned primarily with an ideal speaker-listener in a completely homogeneous speech community, who knows its language perfectly and is unaffected by such grammatically irrelevant conditions as memory limitation, distractions, shifts of attention and interest, and errors (random or characteristic) in applying his knowledge of the language in actual performance. (Ibid: p.3)

    2.2 The definition of CLT

    Discontent with the fact that Chomsky, only with native speakers in mind, just focused on abstract knowledge of language, American linguist Dell Hymes in the 1970s coined the term “communicative competence” (CC) to draw attention to linguistic use in authentic contexts. By “communicative competence”, he refers to the “internalized knowledge of the situational appropriateness of language” (Zimmerman, 2001: 12). Furthermore, Gumperz (1970: 205) points out:

     Whereas linguistic competence covers the speaker‟s ability to produce

    grammatically correct sentences, communicative competence describes his [speaker‟s] ability to select from the totality of grammatically correct

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    expressions available to him, forms which appropriately reflect the social norms governing behavior in specific encounters.

    2.3 The principles of CLT

    As Brown suggests (2001: 46-51), the following principles are embodied in CLT. The first is “learner-centered instruction” which includes:

     1). Techniques that focus on or account for learners‟ needs, styles, and goals. 2). Techniques that give some control to the students (such as, group work or strategy training). 3). Curricula that include the consultation and input of students and that do not presuppose objectives in advance. 4). Techniques that allow for student creativity and innovation. 5. Techniques that enhance a student‟s sense of competence and self-worth. (Brown, 2001:

    46-47)

    The second lies in cooperative and collaborative learning. By this principle, students work in pairs and small groups to achieve common goals and objectives together with their teachers. Five types of cooperative learning activities are available to facilitate cooperative learning: peer tutoring, jigsaw, cooperative projects, cooperative/ individualized method, and cooperative interaction (Richards, Platt & Platt, 2000: 108-9).

    The third involves interactive learning in which students practise orally by forming pairs and groups to receive and produce authentic input and output and write with real persons in mind.

    The fourth is whole language education based on the following ideas:

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    Cooperative learning; participatory learning; student-centered learning; focus on the community of learners; focus on the social nature of language; use of authentic, natural language; meaning-centered language; holistic assessment techniques in testing; integration of the “four skills.” (Brown, 2001: 48-9)

    The fifth is related to content-based instruction, which integrates content learning with language learning. In this case, language acts as a medium by which certain subject matter such as maths and geography is taught.

    The last is task-based instruction. Skehan (1998, in Brown, 2001: 50) defines task as an activity in which meaning is primary; there is some communication problem to solve; there is some sort of relationship to comparable real-world activities; task completion has some priority; and the assessment of the task is in terms of outcome.

    2.4 The relationship of CLT and other teaching methods

    He distinguishes three stages in carrying out tasks: pre-task, during task, and post task in order to optimize the chances of materializing the following goals: “the extent to which one can target individual structures and the extent to which instruction can be adapted to individual learners” (Skehan, 2002:

    28)

     As far as theoretical underpinnings are concerned, theory of language as communication and functional grammar, among others has contributed to the development of CLT (Richards and Rodgers, 1986: 70). Richards and

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