Several students have recently asked me for guided help with acquiring vocabulary. Some discussion with expert teachers focusses me on this:
1) Teaching strategies for acquiring vocabulary is more essential than providing key vocabulary in the form of premade word banks.
2) Acquiring vocabulary is more than seeing new or unusual words as ‘big’ words. New vocabulary should ideally be seen as using increasingly more precise or specific words for situations that you are more likely to experience (intellectually at least) as you grow.
3) Relying on students’ ability to learn words incidentally is inherently flawed. Instead, there should be a progamme of language acquisition in place.
4) Vocabulary acquisition is closely linked to understand inference and connotation: two things which will be the focus of upcoming posts.
Since beginning my new school, I have picked up some excellent practice. In particular, requiring students to define vocabulary in a way other than looking at a dictionary (something which becomes self-referential when you see that some language defines itself by another word, which in turn is defined by another).
Useful ideas are contained here: http://www.glencoe.com/sec/teachingtoday/subject/vocab_acquisition.phtml
Another recommended website is here: http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/
As ever, my interest is in the logistic space that Michael Marland occupies – how do you implement this pedagogy in the mainstream classroom? There is (I find) a quantum leap between the ideal of theory and the flaws of practice. I look forward to discovering from myself and others in the months to come.