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Principles of Vocabulary Instruction LTP TESOL Certificate TESOL 5 Dr. Rob Waring Notre Dame Seishin University.

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Presentation on theme: "Principles of Vocabulary Instruction LTP TESOL Certificate TESOL 5 Dr. Rob Waring Notre Dame Seishin University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Principles of Vocabulary Instruction LTP TESOL Certificate TESOL 5 Dr. Rob Waring Notre Dame Seishin University

2 Rob Waring’s TESOL sessions TESOL 5 Principles of vocabulary learning TESOL 6 Managing an Extensive Reading program TESOL 11 Balance in language teaching TESOL 12 Getting the most out of your materials

3 Some starting questions How do you teach vocabulary? What kinds of words do Japanese students need? What is the best way to deal with vocabulary for Japanese learners?

4 What do you think? Grammar is more important than vocabulary It’s best the teacher explain word meanings to the students The best way to learn words is in context Translation is not a very good way to learn words You don’t need to study words, they can just read a lot Verbs are more important than nouns Most course books deal with vocabulary quite well There is a good balance of vocabulary activities in my classes I teach vocabulary well

5 Typical vocabulary teaching Most vocab teaching is from context Haphazard selection of materials Different vocab topic in each unit Too many words at once Rare words are favoured over common words Focus on single words not multi-word units and combinations All students learn the same words Word teaching = definition and spelling Teachers give meanings

6 Typical vocabulary teaching II Low recycling of vocab in course books and teachers Teachers leave vocab learning to learners Vocab learning strategies are rarely taught Vocab learning techniques are rarely taught Vocabulary learning goals are rarely set Dictionary skills are rarely taught Vocab notebooks not encouraged Words are kept in lists Vocab exercises test not teach Teachers trust the course book to deal with vocab

7 How many words do learners need to know? About 2000 everyday words occur in all types of English. About 4000 words for fairly advanced users Learners need 7000-8000 word families to read native novels easily Learners need ‘specialist words’ as well. Wordlists are available on

8 What’s a collocation? Collocations are words which often appear together. We sayWe don’t (usually) say beautiful girl handsome girl blonde hairyellow hair big surpriselarge surprise black and whitewhite and black go to workgo to job catch firedo fire / go fire high costexpensive cost demand a responseask a response make a mistakedo a mistake

9 What’s a colligation? Colligations are words which often appear together grammatically We sayWe don’t (usually) say depend on someonedepend of someone be good at somethingbe good on something ask for something ask on something give something to someonegive something someone

10 What collocations do they need to learn? Verb uses of one word - Idea… “Abandon an idea.” abandon, absorb, accept, adjust to, advocate, amplify, advance, back, be against, be committed/dedicated/ drawn to, be obsessed with, be struck by, borrow, cherish, clarify, cling to, come out/up with, confirm, conjure up, consider, contemplate, convey, debate, debunk, defend, demonstrate, develop, deny, dismiss, dispel, disprove, distort, drop, eliminate, encourage, endorse, entertain, explode, explore, expound, express, favor, fit, fit in with, follow up, form, formulate, foster, get, get accustomed/used to, get rid of, give up, go along with, grasp, hammer out, have, hit upon, hold, implement, imply, impose – on sb, incorporate, inculcate, instill, jot down, keep to, launch, meet, modify, negate, oppose, pick up, pioneer, plant, play with, popularize, present, promote, propose, put an end to, put forward, put – into practice, raise, refute, reinforce, reject, relish, resist, respond to, revive, ridicule, rule out, spread, squash, stick to, subscribe to, suggest, support, take to, take up, test, tinker with, toy with, turn down, warm to …

11 What collocations do they need to learn? II Adjective uses. “An idea is ………...” abstract, absurd, advanced, ambitious, arresting, basic, bizarre, bold, bright, brilliant, classical, clear, common, commonsense, confused, controversial, convincing, crazy, diabolical, disconcerting, elusive, enlightened, entrenched, exaggerated, extravagant, extreme, false, familiar, fantastic, far-fetched, feasible, feeble, fixed, flexible, foolish, grotesque, hazy, heretical, imaginative, inflated, ingenious, ingrained, innovative, instinctive, intriguing, irresponsible, mad, misconceived, mistaken, monstrous, new- fangled, novel, original, old-fashioned, outdated, out-of-date, outrageous, peculiar, persuasive, preconceived, preposterous, prevalent, provocative, (un)real, (un)realistic, remarkable, revolutionary, ridiculous, risky, sensible, silly, splendid, strange, striking, superficial, untenable, useful, vague, valid, well-defined …

12 What else do they need to know? III Lexical phrases and chunks of language How’s things? I’d rather not … If it were up to me, I’d … So, what do you think? We got a quick bite to eat. What’s the matter? What do you mean by that? Well, what do you know? Look what the cat just dragged in Plus THOUSANDS more

13 What else do they need to know? IV The grammar systems (e.g. the present perfect tense) A government committee has been created to … He hasn’t seen her for a while, has he? No, he hasn’t. Why haven’t you been doing your homework? There’s been a big accident in Market Street. Have you ever eaten Japanese food? It’s very hard to see the patterns – there are many forms: Statement, negative, yes/no and wh- question forms, Simple or continuous Active or passive Short answers and questions tags (Yes, I have. …… hasn’t he?) Regular and irregular - has vs. have walked vs. bought Present perfect for ‘announcing news’, PP for ‘experiences’, etc. etc.

14 What do we know about vocabulary? It takes 8-50 meetings (or more) to ‘learn’ a word Because we teach a word does not mean they learned it (i.e. teaching does not cause learning). Note* our text books assume this. Because they finished the textbook does not mean they know all the words in the book Written and spoken vocabulary are different. Fewer words are needed for speaking Initial word knowledge is very fragile. Memories of new words that are not met again soon, are lost to the “forgetting curve”.

15 What do we know about vocabulary? II Some words are more difficult to learn than others Learners cannot guess new meaning from context if the surrounding text is too difficult. About 98% coverage needed. Words live with other words, not in isolation Not all words are equally frequent. There is a core useful vocabulary everyone needs (about 2000 word families). Not everyone needs the other 90% of the words in English. Students should learn the most frequent and useful words first, later they can specialize.

16 Two states of vocabulary learning Form-meaning relationship - matching the spelling and sound to a meaning The ‘deeper’ aspects of vocabulary learning - multiple meaning senses / nuances of use - frequency, usefulness etc. - use in context - domain (lexical set) - restrictions on use / pragmatic values - register – polite, rude, spoken, written, formal, informal - collocation and colligation - lexical access speed, fluency, automaticity - etc.

17 How well are our courses presenting the language students need? Research suggests an average language course: does not systematically recycle the grammatical forms outside the presentation unit / lesson has an almost random vocabulary selection without much regard to frequency or usefulness (mostly based on topic) rarely, if ever, recycles taught words either later in the unit, the book, or the series provide little additional practice in review units or workbooks has an overwhelming focus on new material in each lesson

18 Typical Japanese reading texts In Junior High School -teaches the first 1000 words quite well - readability seems adequate – short passages, easy vocabulary, picture support In Senior High School - radical change to low frequency vocabulary - hundreds of the most important 2,000 words aren’t met So what do typical texts that Japanese students meet look like?


20 A Typical Reading Text Short texts Many difficult words Many exercises Definitions given

21 How much text do learner need to meet? To have a 9000 word vocabulary you need to read 30,000,000 words But JH and SH learners meet a total of 100,000 words over 6 years All Oxford, Cengage and Penguins (800 graded readers) from levels 1- 6 total only 4,000,000 words (will give you a receptive vocab of around 4000 words) Number of words Average Incoming 1 st year English major (N=2350) Average 4 th year English major (N=1670) Average JH English teacher (N=239) Average SH English teacher (N=195) Average Japanese College Literature professor (N=74) (Maeda and Asano, 2001) 1820 2460 2980 3560 6530

22 How many words do Japanese students meet in JH/ SH? TypesTokens Horizon 1, 2, 3 (Junior High)1,1249,440 Powwow I, II, Reading (Senior High)2,85727,221 Centre tests (680 types / 3000 tokens average per test) x 4 1,00012,000 College Entrance tests (590 types / 1600 tokens average per test) x 4 1,0006,400 A total of approximately 55,000 running words will be met (not counting juku and self-study). A generous estimate is 100,000 words and about 3,500 types over 6 years. Listening input would be approximately 10% of this.

23 Lexical coverage of some reading texts % inside the top 2,000 most frequent words Typical beginner level graded readers99% Typical elementary level graded readers97-98% Typical advanced level graded readers92-94% Typical unsimplified native texts85% Typical Daily Yomiuri article87.4% Harry Potter Chapter 294.1% Typical Time magazine article80.9% Japanese High School text (Spectrum U16)76.8% Japanese High School text (Milestone)78% Japanese High School text (Unicorn)79% Source: Browne, C. ECAP Conference, 2008

24 Lexical coverage of some exams % inside the top 2000 most frequent words Keio University69% Sophia University72% Waseda University72% Kyoto University77% Nagoya University68% Tokyo University80% Source: Browne, C. ECAP Conference, 2008

25 The number of words a learner will probably learn from course work (225,000 words over 3 years) Probably knownPartially KnownProbably unknown 50+30-4920-2910-195-91-4Total Course book only 5232102294725801,2613,275 Data from Sequences, Foundations, Page Turners and Footprints by Heinle Cengage 225,000 60,800 570,000 174,000 (=1,029,000) Add one reader a week 1,0232832505395701,3253,990 Add two readers a week 1,3723803676948772,8826,572

26 Why can’t Japanese students read, listen, speak and write well? Their language knowledge is often abstract, separated, discrete and very fragile so they forget There’s too much work on “the pieces-of-language” and not enough comprehensible, meaningful, connected discourse They haven’t met the words and grammar enough times to feel comfortable using them They CANNOT speak until they feel comfortable using their knowledge They haven’t developed a ‘sense’ of language yet

27 A linear structure to our syllabuses Each unit has something new Little focus on the recycling of vocabulary, grammar and so on The theory is “We’ve done that, they have learnt it, so we can move on.” i.e. teaching causes learning Unit 1 Be verb Simple adjectives Unit 2 Simple present Daily routines Unit 3 Present continuous Sporting activities Unit 4 can Abilities Unit 5 …. …..

28 What happens to things we learn? We forget them over time unless they are recycled and memories of them strengthened Our brains are designed to forget most of what we meet - not to remember it Time Knowledge The Forgetting Curve

29 What will naturally happen to the learning? Unit 1 Be verb Simple adjectives Unit 2 Simple present Daily routines Unit 3 Present continuous Sporting activities Unit 4 can Abilities Unit 5 …. …..

30 What does this all imply? A linear course structure -is focused on introducing new words and grammatical features -does not fight against the forgetting curve -by its very design cannot provide enough repetitions of words and grammar features for long-term acquisition to take place -is not focused on deepening and consolidating older knowledge because the focus is always on new things This is NOT a criticism of course books. They can’t do everything even though we might expect them to. Course books are only part of what students need.

31 How does learning happen? Notice something We don’t understand Get feedback Try it out Get more input Understand and add to our knowledge Correct use Incorrect use “Then they saw an ancient temple …”

32 Notice something Get more input (feedback) Try it out Add to our knowledge The Cycle of Learning

33 Central Vocab Concepts What principles emerge from this? Two stages of vocabulary learning Frequency – Usefulness / Need - Range Receptive – Productive Contextualized – Decontexualized Intentional – Incidental learning Scaffolded learning – Random learning Single items – Multi-part words Massed – Distributed practice Spaced retrieval Scheduled review / recycling / repetition

34 Principles of Vocabulary Learning There is not enough class time to teach everything about a word We don’t need to teach every word in the book Select the vocabulary carefully - Useful and frequent words first Single words as well as phrases and collocations Learners must be set vocabulary learning goals They need massive input to build vocabulary knowledge to deepen vocabulary connections We should teach words the students need Forgetting will happen - > revise, use or lose We should not expect things we teach to be known tomorrow The most important vocabulary to teach is yesterday’s vocabulary

35 Principles II Because time is limited, we have to teach students how to deal with new words (independent learning) thus they need vocabulary learning strategies Give opportunities for guessing words from context Teach them to use a dictionary properly Teach word learning strategies Work at both levels of vocabulary knowledge Use a systematic approach (set realistic goals) – build on old learning Intentional and incidental learning

36 Principles III Language focus work needed Give opportunities for developing fluency and automaticity Not everything can be learn intentionally Initial meetings should be followed by deeper level processing Opportunities for elaborating word knowledge Let them experiment (force them to think) We do not need to teach all words to be available for use Concept check understanding Understand the task requirements of vocabulary exercises Give opportunities to develop the pronunciation

37 How are we going to teach what? Discrete knowledge‘Fuzzy’ knowledge  Intentional learning e.g word cards Selection issues – what do we teach? Sequence issues – in what order? Scaffolding issues – how do we consolidate previous learning? Presentation issues – what method?  Incidental learning e.g extensive reading Rough grading Ensuring recycling Engaging text Matching input text to intentionally learnt materials Individual words Important lexical phrases False friends Loanwords Important collocations and colligations Basic grammatical patterns Important phrasal verbs, idioms etc. Word, phrase and sentence level awareness Register, Genre … Pragmatic knowledge Restrictions on use Most collocations and collocations A ‘sense’ of a word’s meaning and use A ‘sense’ of how grammar fits with lexis - the tenses, articles etc. Discourse level awareness

38 Extensive practice They need extensive practice with words – so they can meet them often – to work out word relationships – to build recognition automaticity – to get a sense of how words go together They need chances – to observe new things about words – to hypothesize about their knowledge – to experiment with their vocabulary

39 How should we teach vocabulary Focus on units larger than a single word awful day high season clear conscience traffic jam Demonstrate collocational differences light vs.light suitcase vs. heavy suitcase light green vs. dark green light rain vs. heavy rain rough rough / calm sea rough / smooth sandpaper big surprise large areagreat success big smile large familygreat importance big problem large population great pleasure big differencelarge volumegreat artist

40 How should we teach vocabulary Concentrate on word grammar give vs. give someone something give something give something to someone borrow vs. borrow s/thg from s/one Focus on basic concepts fork branch

41 When selecting vocabulary to teach Perform a needs analysis Teach something they are going to meet again soon Words found in a wide range of texts (range) before specialized vocab Words with a wide meaning (coverage) (e.g. go vs. saunter) Words that will be easy to learn (e.g. loanwords) to build the start-up vocab and empower the learner Teach culture-specific vocabulary Teach the classroom vocabulary Teach ‘instructions’ vocabulary Teach the base meaning first Work hard on common words with many meanings

42 Some vocabulary exercises Match these opposites hotdark bigcold lightstrong weaksmall

43 What problems may occur by asking learners to learn words in lexical sets? chairstoolarmchairsofa winter summer springautumn motherfathersondaughter TuesdayThursdaySaturday Sunday........ yesterdaytomorrowtoday differentdifficultdiffident specialspacioussplendid anxiousnervousworried

44 Match the word with its meaning regulateobservation well like sandpaper notifyrule roughgood

45 Put the following words in the correct sentences ambitious big-headed intelligent immature rude obstinate moody strict 1.John is always telling people how well he plays guitar. He's so....…….. 2.Many girls of 16 and 17 are far too.............. to get married and have children. 3.I see Clive's passed all his exams again. It must be so wonderful to be so............

46 What words do these meanings refer to? a)a book with a lot of information about the world, places and people b)something you eat with c)send, deliver or transport something

47 Fill in the blank 1.The president asked his secretary to make a c_______ of the letter to put in the files 2.The secretary thought that making c_______ for her boss was not her job.

48 Choose the correct word a)She told me to take a few days to ______ his job offer a) thinkb) wonder c) consider d) decide b)Call the airline to ______ your reservation. a) affirmb) confirmc) contestd) agree

49 Trouble in the family. By THE DOC 1 I bumped into young Fiona the other day - not her usual cheerful self, by any means. 'Just walked down the road with my dad', she said ruefully 2. 'And, as usual we fought all the way'. Well, I've got news for Fiona, and her dad. Nothing is more natural. Indeed, I'd go so far as to say, if there were NO tensions in the family something is wrong! It's a sign they either don't care enough, or they're building up pressure that will eventually explode. Oh, I know there's nothing more exasperating 3 for a mother than to see her teenage be at loggerheads with 4 Dad. It's as bad for dad to see a teenage girl seemingly unable to hit it off with 5 her mother. It may comfort them to know teenage rebellion is a sign of normality, not a sign they've failed as parents. Changing standards always lead to family tension, too. I honestly don't think we can expect youngsters to stick to the rules 6 our parents set for us............ 1. coll abbr doctor2. regretfully 3. irritating, producing ill-feeling 4. coll disagreeing or quarrelling 5. coll get on well6. coll respect the rules


51 Which of these words form strong word partnerships with all the words in each line below? foodmeal white winered wine sandwich restaurant saladchickencheesefreshly madeclub dry mediumsweetcrispfruity Indianfastplainspicyrich familyChinesevegetariantrendyelegant






57 Spaced Repetition is the science of long-term memory Based on the research of Ebbinghaus, Pimsleur, Leitner, and Mondria, electronic flashcards automatically repeat each new word at spaced time intervals, and until the learner achieves long-term, instant-recall ability.

58 Leitner’s Memory System Image source: Spaced, expanded retrieval

59 Spaced Repetition is the science of long-term memory










69 Memorization software Anki Supermemo Memosyne Open cards Quizlet AWL Builder FlashcardDB Flashcard friends

70 Comparison of software AnkiSupermemoiKnow!WordEngineMnemosyne OSMac, PC, Browser, IOS, Android PC, iOS, Browser Browser, iOS, Android BrowserMac, PC, Browser, Android Import, addYes Audio / images Yes ? SyncYesNo?YesNoNo? Demo videoYes









79 Memosyne

80 Anki

81 Online Intentional Learning Apps Current vocab software do quite well: recognition, productive practice spelling spaced repetition sequenced /scaffolded learning immediate feedback sometimes and LMS included for tracking almost all is controlled practice

82 Online Intentional Learning Apps They don’t do so well with these things: indicating frequency or usefulness engagement – too functional general appeal – not all will like these method poor tie in well with current reading and courses wide variety of features - ? Lack of clear principles? often lack context and pronunciation few contrasts with antonyms and synonyms generative vocabulary (adding uses take a test -> take a drive, take a rest, take time-out, take a XXXX) uneven block sizes (20-50 optimal)

83 Integrated Software solutions Native level input from thousands of YouTube videos Facility to practice your speech / pronunciation Vocabulary tracking Highly controlled and sequenced learning Focus on listening Pronunciation modeling and practice Rosetta Stone Integrated solutions in dozens of languages

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