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Taking students from introduction to mastery of a new word

Posted: Thu May 10, 2012 5:06 am
by pengyou
Has anyone seen a very structured method of taking students from the point of introducing a word that they are not familiar with to mastery of the word? I do not care if it is overkill - obsessive compulsive, anal, whatever you want to call it. It would be very helpful for me to have this kind of instruction to help my students learn new words.

Posted: Thu May 10, 2012 10:35 am
by Sally Olsen
Learn new words in context - pick a topic and read an article, figuring out the new words with friends, talking about them.
Use the new words in writing what you know about the topic in some interesting way and share this with your friends in some interesting way. It could be a debate, a poster display, a short illustrated book, a song, etc.
Read another article about the same topic and see if you understand the words this time for review.
Keep the words in some manner to review - a dictionary, flash cards, word wall, making games or crosswords with them.
In a few weeks read another article on the topic to review.
Try to use the words as often as possible either in speaking or writing.

Posted: Thu May 10, 2012 2:39 pm
by fluffyhamster
Well, a good course (textbook etc) would teach the students all they really need to know about certain words - say all the useful entries, collocations, phrases, idioms etc relating to it in an up-to-date advanced leaner dictionary. Until that course is really written however, all we can really do is supplement current textbooks (which are still rather thin, "multi-volume" etc IMHO).

Another obvious place to look for ideas and checklists regarding types and depths of knowledge of lexis is in books dealing with the teaching and testing of vocabulary. You've probably heard of these authors/books (the ones that I'm most familiar with) by now, but they hopefully bear repeating here:

Carter & McCarthy 1988. Vocabulary and Language Teaching.
McCarthy & Schmitt 1997. Vocabulary: Description, Acquisition and Pedagogy.
Schmitt 2000. Vocabulary in Language Teaching.
Read 2000. Assessing Vocabulary.
Nation 2001. Learning Vocabulary in Another Language.

IIRC there's a good paper by Richards in his The Context of Language Teaching.

I noticed a more recent (2007) offering from CUP whilst checking Amazon: ... 452&sr=8-3 (Modelling and Assessing Vocabulary Knowledge, eds Daller, Milton & Treffers-Daller).

Posted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 1:56 pm
by iain
Curiosity - What kind of students and what are they learning for? Are they supposed to learn in class and if so how many of them are there?

Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 10:09 am
by woodcutter
Well, the (possibly rather flawed) discipline of applied linguistics would tend to suggest it won't be all that useful for you to have an "anal" method which focuses on taking students from encountering a particualr word to mastering it in every aspect. That's an unusual way to look at language teaching.

Direct method/Callum method style teaching does provide a more rectum-restricted procedure than the average if you want to look into it. I have argued its merits here a few times, while acknowledging its limitations, but the point with it is not really to focus laser like on mastery of words per se, but to make sure there is a helpful structure and procedure set in place for building up language.

Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 3:29 pm
by fluffyhamster
Hi Woody, long time no see. How's it hangin'?

Maybe you could look back over the methods and materials used in Callum-style classes and give us a few examples of how words are introduced and then "built up" over time? Off the top of my head, how about something very high-frequency but ubertricky, like 'a/an' or 'the'; then something like 'get'; and finally something like 'like'?

Oh, but wait, you've begged off that already with that very generalized and hand-wavy "the point with it is not really to focus laser like on mastery of words per se, but to make sure there is a helpful structure and procedure set in place for building up language" (hmm, as if other methods provide nothing of the sort, and don't ever do it better. And for the benefit of any relatively new members: in previous discussions, the limitations of the apparent examples of Woody's favoured method were that they were not particularly natural or convincing discourse-wise, which is worrying if getting students used to authentic discourse patterns is at all a pedagogical aim. To say nothing of the by now well-known limitations of clunky n vague structural slot-fill syllabuses versus the richer descriptions available with modern lexicogrammars etc etc etc). Not much point posting in this specific thread then, is there, or was the temptation to again plug so-called Direct Methods too much to resist? (Talk about withdrawal symptoms!). :o :lol: 8) :wink: