Teaching Vocabulary
Methodology L7
Lecture 2
Dr. Hanaa El-Baz
Teaching vocabulary
'Vocabulary' is a collective noun referring to words. In Arabic, we can talk
about 'a vocabulary i.e.( one vocabulary item or /mufrada/ ). In English , we
should say ' a vocabulary item.
It is sometimes said that students are interested in learning as many
vocabulary items as they can. They compete on knowing unfamiliar words.
Many Ss are reported to learn words from dictionaries.
keeping of well-organized vocabulary notebooks
The system for organizing the notebooks should be left to the individual
- What do you think about learning a list of words???????
Dr. Hanaa El-Baz
Teaching vocabulary
Some assumptions about vocabulary teaching
Vocabulary development will have to be given much more
prominence in language teaching than it now gets
The assumption that learners must somehow learn
vocabulary but teachers should not really try to teach it
should be changed
Teachers also need to encourage their students to take
more responsibility for developing their own vocabulary
Grammar Translation Method emphasizes the learning of
grammar rules and structures not vocabulary learning
Many English language teachers like to stress grammar
over vocabulary because grammar is a finite system,
Dr. Hanaa El-Baz
Teaching vocabulary cont.
For teaching and learning purposes, vocabulary is divided into two
Are you going to teach all new vocabulary the same way???????
A- Passive vocabulary. It includes words that Ss need to understand
when they encounter them during reading or listening i.e. when
they listen to others saying them or when they come across them
during reading. This sort of vocabulary is sometimes called
'receptive vocabulary since Ss use it for 'decoding' the message.
b- Active vocabulary. It refers to those words that Ss need not only to
understand an oral or a written message but also to send an oral
or a written message. Ss use active vocabulary items to produce
messages. Hence it is sometimes called 'productive' vocabulary.
Students need not only to know active vocabulary but also to be
able to use them in their language production
Dr. Hanaa El-Baz
Techniques for teaching a new vocabulary item (a new word)
There are three different techniques for teaching a new
vocabulary item (a new word):
I- Using visual aids
2- Using verbal contexts
3- Using translation
Dr. Hanaa El-Baz
I-Using visual aids
Teacher uses one of the following eye-oriented devices:
= Real objects
= Pictures
Teachers are advised to develop their files of pictures. They
can have cut-outs from newspapers, magazines, and
textbooks. What they do not need today may be needed one
day in the future. Teacher can organize the pictures in the
file in categories. For example category (1) is for animals,
category (2) is for places ,and category (3) is for jobs and
so on.
= Maps and stamps can be used to present a lot of vocabulary
items, such as nationalities, languages and countries.
Dr. Hanaa El-Baz
Using visual aids cont.
= Blackboard drawings: T can use simple drawings to present
the meanings of new words. T is not expected to be an
artist, so only sketchy lines can give the meaning. For
example, the words 'tree', "fish' and 'car' can be easily
drawn on the BB.
= Actions and facial expression : T can act out some verbs in
class to present their meanings. If T feels shy, a student
can act out the verbs instead. Verbs like 'jump' and drink'
can be presented through actions. Verb like 'smile' can be
presented through facial expressions
Dr. Hanaa El-Baz
Using visual aids cont.
= Wall-charts and picture cards
Wall-charts are large pieces of hard paper with
illustrations, announcements, pictures, tables or
model sentences. They can be bought readymade at the bookstores or made by teachers or
students. A wall-chart can be used to present
more than one word, especially if the words
belong to one category.
= Picture cards are either bought ready-made or
drawn by T or Ss. When drawn by T or Ss, picture
cards should be of standard size i.e. 10 by 15
Dr. Hanaa El-Baz
2- Using verbal contexts
A verbal context may be a phrase , a
sentence or a number of sentences. T can
use one of the following verbal contexts:
a- Examples. Examples can be either
authentic i.e.,. related to facts actually
known about Ss, their families, the
community or life as a whole. Examples
may also be imaginary i.e. T and Ss invent
meanings for the sake of word practice.
Dr. Hanaa El-Baz
Using verbal contexts cont.
B- Synonyms i.e. words of the same meaning. For example, if the
word 'glad' is familiar to Ss, for teaching the word 'pleased' T may
say." pleased means glad". In fact, many linguists will argue that
that are no two words that are identical in meaning. In other
words, true synonyms do not exist in any language. The reason
behind that assumption is that words are created to help man
express a certain meaning. Once this need is satisfied, man will
not think of another word to express the same meaning. This idea
seems scientifically correct. So what we may have are just words
that have 'approximately' similar meanings
C -Antonyms i.e. words that have opposite meanings For example, if
Ss already know the word ' pleased', the teacher may teach the
word ' angry' by saying ," 'angry' means 'not pleased'".
Dr. Hanaa El-Baz
3- Using translation
T can resort to translation if s/he thinks that no other technique
will work. Translation is not recommended because, although it is
the shortest way for presenting the meaning, it does not present
how the word is used in a sentence. The problem is that once the
student has known the meaning, S loses any incentive to see how
the word functions in a context. Moreover, it is sometimes
impossible to find equivalents of English words in Arabic.
Translation is used for teaching abstract words that may not be
understood through either visual elements or examples T gives
the Arabic equivalent followed by an example. Ss repeat the
example not the Arabic meaning. T should never translate full
sentences. It is strange to find Ss' textbooks stained with
translation not only of full sentences but also of whole
Dr. Hanaa El-Baz
Using translation cont.
Teacher should encourage Ss to use
dictionaries from the very beginning.
Children's picture dictionaries are
available. Most common available
text books give Ss practice in using
picture dictionaries. T also should
encourage Ss to guess the meaning
from the context.
Dr. Hanaa El-Baz
Steps for teaching a new vocabulary
Presentation- Drill - Practice
1- T says the word three times while Ss listen.
2- T presents the meaning using any of the above mentioned
3- Ss repeat after the teacher in chorus, in groups and individually .
4- T uses the word in a sentence.
5- Ss repeat the sentence individually.
6- T writes the word on the bb and reads it.
7- Ss write the word in their copybooks.
8- T asks questions to check for comprehension. Questions may be
personal and/or general.
9- T may give extensive word practice by using word expansion" T
gives Ss one word (usually reflecting a concept ). Then T asks
them to brainstorm i.e., remember as quickly as possible other
words connected with it. Vocabulary building
Dr. Hanaa El-Baz
Steps for teaching a new vocabulary item cont.
holiday etc.
This process is sometimes referred to as 'semantic mapping' i.e. outlining
all the ideas related to a certain concept. In addition to the concept
'school' that is mentioned above, another example is the concept of the
"farm'. Words that are related to it and that can form a semantic map for
'farm' are : crop, water, pump, canal, animals, harvest, birds etc.
The end
Dr. Hanaa El-Baz