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U.B. - U.S.A. said:
Teaching (and Learning) VocabularyAs a mother of three I noticed that learning a foreign language at school very often means learning lists of vocabulary (the traditional way) : Memorizing them, then covering one side of the list and reproducing the ?partners? - a frustrating experience for all parties involved and perfect to destroy any interest in learning a foreign language. There is a lot of information how to teach and also how to learn vocabulary. But the reviews are fundamentally different in their approach. Using my common sense and based on my experience I tried to evaluate and connect the most convincing ideas how to teach ? and learn ? vocabulary. The easiest way to learn a foreign language and vocabulary is to be exposed to the language as much as possible and to use whatever you've learned as soon and often as possible ? to learn the language ?the natural? way. Nevertheless that's not always possible and it might take too much time for a sufficient and efficient vocabulary acquisition. Therefore I will summarise the main points how to teach - and learn - vocabulary. ? First of all you have to decide which words you want to teach. What are the topics? What is the level of the class? Is it a common word? Etc. ? Bring the words into context. Read books, articles, magazines, essays etc. Show pictures, realia, movies; use them in discussion, role plays or material production tasks. Present words in a typical combination with other words to memorize them better and to teach how the word is used. Use the words. ? Practice again. It takes about 10 ? 20 repetitions to really make a word part of your ( active and passive) vocabulary. The number of vocabulary exercises is very important. Teach your students the use of flashcards: - Write the word ( whenever a new interesting word appears) on a small card. - On the backside write the translation in L1, a definition in L2 and a sentence how to use the word. - Review your flashcards periodically whenever you have small moments of time ( on the bus; while waiting for a friend; just before dinner etc.) - Don't learn too many words at once. 5 ? 10 words is more than enough. - Devide your flashcard box in 4 sections: New words / words you struggle with (repeat them 20 min. later and/or the next day) / words you memorize pretty well ( repeat them the next day and again within a week) / words you know ( repeat them after a month; if you still know them you can remove them from the box) ? Teach the students the sensible use of the dictionary. Not each single unknown word has to be looked up. Often the meaning is clear by the context. But make clear that a dictionary gives further information, i.e.: how a word is spelled, pronounced, any grammar information and how it collocates etc. ? Use words playfully. There are many games available for the classroom, for at home or the computer. Just google for vocabulary games and you'll find many ideas for your engage / study / activate phase. With the help of those ?games? homework might even be interesting and fun. ? Teach your students memory tricks. Let them find as many associations and connections as possible. It doesn't matter if those associations are funny or silly. Relate the words to words / pictures / circumstances / even places etc. they already know. ? Some students might prefer learning with the ?traditionel? vocabulary lists. There are many books that focus on vocabulary lists needed for several standardized tests. On the Internet are also many interesting word sites, some of them even sending the students a word a day by email. ? Test your students. Vocabulary test on a regulary base help the students to find out which words they have to repeat. It also helps the teacher to learn about their students' progress. ? Motivate your students to read! Reading is an excellent way to improve the students' general English. Furthermore it's by reading that students learn much of what they have to study for the different (school) subjects. Make sure that the texts are not to difficult. Recommend appropriate literatur. ? Let your students get excited about words. Let them discover the pride and joy to be able to express themselves and to say what they really mean. Give them possibilities to realize how much they have already learned and how much fun it is to communicate in a foreign language. Help them to notice how important a rich vocabulary can be. And show them that building a vocabulary is a lifeling propostion. Reading works (among others) by Vera F. Birkenbihl who totally rejects learning vocabulary ( the ?traditional? way) to works by Keith Folse who supports learning vocabulary ( not only the ?traditional? way) I came to the conclusion that teaching vocabulary is a hot discussed topic. Based on negative personal experience many teacher and students reject teaching and learning vocabulary. But I think that there are many new and old ideas how to teach vocabulary which ? used in a appropriate way ? have a positive impact on learning a foreign language. Because until you have a word for something it doesn't exist for you. And as soon as you name it you have made your reality richer.

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