Saturday, September 1, 2012

898. New things, new words


Here you have a thread post by jcl in www.teachingenglish.org.uk , which is the interesting Web site of British Council – BBC, this one now about guessing the meaning of words and phrases from the context and other must-read things. Don’t miss it; it’s useful and usual. After that you have a reply by me. / Photo from: 947fueraderutina blogspot. el animal es una ballena

TeachingEnglish
Meaning from context and learning phrases

Submitted by jcl on 24 August, 2012 - 18:06

We've been looking at working out meaning from context in different forms, with different texts for about a month or so now, and this week the students really seemed to have made it their own. As a teacher, I like this because it means much less dictionary time, while providing the students with a viable alternative. And I also like to think that I'm providing them with skills that they can use outside the classroom, too, when a dictionary might not be available. 

Additionally, some of the students are really starting to engage with phrases and chunks of language that they are learning and trying to use - it's great to hear them drop them into conversation (almost) fluently. So, I feel a lot of the vocabulary learning techniques that the students have had the opportunity to try in class have been useful in ways personal to each of them - phew!

However, these techniques seem to be most effective when the students already have a good grounding in most of the individual words (i.e. they know the meaning and use of topic-specific nouns, adjectives, etc.). If the students are not so familiar with the topic, they tend to focus on individual words and their meanings, rather than the phrases. When the topic is very new to them (like sports equipment this week), there are lots of new individual words for the students to learn.

A comment from a student, that she confused new words if they were of the same group when she first learnt them, made me think of an article from Nation in TESOL Journal, where he recommends not teaching new vocabulary in lexical sets, having found that students find learning words taught in such a way more difficult.

I found this a very interesting article, and if anyone has any comments, ideas, or opinions of similar or different observations from their own teaching or comments made by students, it'd be great if you could share them. Also, what do you (and/or your students) believe is more useful to them: individual words or phrases? Thanks!

Nation, P. (2000) 'Learning Vocabulary in Lexical Sets', TESOL Journal, pp.6-10


My reply:

Hi jcl and everybody else,

An interesting article, because it's something we encounter every day, so to speak.

Honestly I don't follow a single way, you know, Here you are, and what do you think, Ana, 'ruthless' mean. I do this quite often, but other times I write a series of words on the whiteboard and we sort of do plenty of different activities before reading the text with those words: try and guess, I'll say it myself, Pedro look up this word in the dictionary, let's see who's the first in finding the word in the dictionary, or guessing from a possible cognate word in Spanish (our mother language), or who can approximate the meaning from what you see, or here you have a clue.

We have fun, more often than not, and sometimes I present the phrases with an example or whatever, and many other times, I let them look up the meaning.
The point is having fun and much better if the thing we implement could help them some way to remember the words and expressions on coming days.

I hope I've said something useful at all.

Nice regards and best wishes

Fernando

Teacher of English and teacher trainer

Granada, Spain

Further just if you wish: http://fernandoexperiences.blogspot.com
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