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ⓘ The Age of Data

Johnlox

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Dec 29, 2015
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When I was learning Russian, my teacher used a great tool for learning vocabulary. For homework, we were often assigned to read short stories. At the time, I was in Russian level 3, but the teacher assigned readings that were at a slightly higher level. He knew the readings would be difficult. The assignment was not necessarily a reading comprehension exercise as much as it was utilized to increase vocabulary. He had us read through the story once through and then go back and read again, but this time as we were reading we were to highlight all of the words we did not know or could not determine via context. Then, he had us choose five of the words we highlighted and look them up in the dictionary and write down their meanings, Next, we had to come up with our own sentence using that word - a sentence that would express clearly that we understood how to use the new vocabulary word. I found this really helpful.
 
I like the way your teacher has approached teaching new vocabulary to you and your classmates. It's a good way to get acquainted with new words and have them etched in your memory as well. I also use the same technique in learning new words and their meanings. Whenever I encounter a word that I'm not familiar with, I find its meaning online or with the dictionary and try to incorporate that new word in my life. That way, it will easier to remember it because I linked it to my experiences.
 
Increasing vocabulary is an important step in getting to know any language thoroughly, and I think in some ways of teaching, they don't focus enough on learning new words, but rather concentrate on mastering the more simple ones.

While it's important to be as fluent as you can in a language, and that often does mean learning the basics, it can often be more beneficial to learn the more advanced words aswell, if only so people get to at least be familiar with them in the future.
 
Increasing vocabulary is an important step in getting to know any language thoroughly, and I think in some ways of teaching, they don't focus enough on learning new words, but rather concentrate on mastering the more simple ones.

While it's important to be as fluent as you can in a language, and that often does mean learning the basics, it can often be more beneficial to learn the more advanced words aswell, if only so people get to at least be familiar with them in the future.

This is very true. I know all the basics of the English language but I get confused with the more advanced words. It's like, I know the meaning of this word, but I cannot seem to formulate the words to define it. And maybe it's because I lack the vocabulary to define that word.

And it's quite nice as well to use words that aren't known by many, lol. It makes me feel like I'm a genius. Or when my husband asks me what's the meaning of this word and I know how to define it. It's such a nice feeling! Haha!
 
A wide vocabulary is very important, I feel. I do the same, when I'm reading books. Digital books are so handy because the apps you read them withh have built-in dictionaries, which help a lot when I'm reading some of the more difficult books. When I was self-studying other languages, I consumed a lot of media as well, not just books and readings. I listened to music and watched television shows in that language. :)
 
Formal education of a language is important to learn the fundamentals, but like you say, the best and quickest way to learn it more in depth is by reading material such as newspapers that are printed in that certain language you want to learn. That way at least you will have learned the basic's, and then be able to see how the language is used more in day to day life.

What you learn of a language in a formal class, is normally a world away from how the language is used everyday and the best way to learn that, is to either read or listen to that language and see how the national's of that country use it.
 
Using reading texts as vocabulary input can be amazingly useful, though it will work better with some micro-skills training.

Lexical inferencing (or word attack (Nuttal 1996 'Teaching Reading Skills in a Foreign Language')) doesn't come easy to everyone when doing it in a foreign language, so you could try and take your students through these steps, adapted from Hedgcock and Ferris (2009 'Teaching Readers of English: Students, Texts, and Contexts'), and Clark & Nation (1980 'Guessing the meanings of words from context: strategy and techniques' as published in System Vol.8):
  1. Determine the word's part of speech
  2. Examine the clause or sentence where the word occurs to identify the word's function.
  3. Examine the relationship between the clause or sentence where the word occurs to the surrounding text.
  4. Use the above information to make an educated guess about the word's contextual meanings.
  5. Check your educated guess with a dictionary after you have stopped reading.

A colleague and I had done a little action research on this around two years ago, with my class receiving training on the above steps, with my colleague teaching a class of the same level (B1 Higher) without training them in word attack skills. They were set the same tasks as reading homework over a period of four weeks. At the end of the four weeks, they sat for an essay-writing test in which they produced two pieces of writing, which we had another two colleagues of ours correct.

Overall, my group (the group who received training on word attack skills) displayed a MUCH wider lexical range, and scored higher on lexical accuracy (spelling, natural collocations, using a word of the correct meaning, etc.) than the class who didn't receive any learner training.
 
Well I have to say I am not too familiar with this approach, and I am not sure I have heard of Lexical Interfacing before, but it sounds intriguing, and it sounds like you got the results that you intended, which is great. This is an area in education that I feel is lacking, and I know that I am not alone in thinking that. Not much attention gets paid to the language and vocabulary as it used to, so any way you can really teach this with efficiency is a breath of fresh air to me. Thanks for sharing.
 
The best way to building vocabulary is by reading, listening, talking with many people, experiencing different things, going out, immersing yourself as much as you can with all the aspects of the language that you're learning; traveling to a country that has that native language would help greatly too and is the most effective way for learning in general, not only vocabulary.
 
I also think that a lot is going to depend on just how much of a vocabulary you want to need to build as well. If you just need to know the basics then is there any point in spending time learning everything if you're only going to be using that language once or twice like on a business trip for example.

If you're moving to a ne country to live then obviously that's different and even though you might not be expected to learn that language fluently, I do think that by doing so you get accepted more as it shows that you are making an effort to fit in.
 
Vocabulary building is important when you are learning a new language, however, how much depends on why you are learning the language. If I am learning a language just to get me through day to day needs I would learn words that help in general conversation and names of daily need items. On the other hand, if I want to excel in a language I would use a thesaurus to enlarge my vocabulary. I would take the simple words that I already use and find the synonyms for them, then I would try to see if they fit into the sentence and convey the same meaning or a different level of meaning. This could be a fun game that not only helps build my vocabulary but also understand the nuances of the language I am learning. This technique works well for me.
 
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