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Strategic Vocabulary! Leading Learners to Academic Success with the AWL Maggie Heeney Renison University College October 13, 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "Strategic Vocabulary! Leading Learners to Academic Success with the AWL Maggie Heeney Renison University College October 13, 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 Strategic Vocabulary! Leading Learners to Academic Success with the AWL Maggie Heeney Renison University College October 13, 2012 TESL Canada Conference, Kamloops, B.C.

2 Some Guiding Questions How much vocabulary do second language learners need to read and write with proficiency? What words do students need to know? How do second language learners acquire vocabulary? What strategies facilitate vocabulary acquisition?

3 “No matter how well the student learns grammar, no matter how successfully the sounds of L2 are mastered, without words to express a wider range of meanings, communication in an L2 just cannot happen in any meaningful way” (McCarthy,1990). Lack of vocabulary challenges most ESL undergraduates and affects both reading and writing ability (Gould, Nation & Read, 1990)

4 What is a word? Lexeme or a meaningful unit of language found as a headword in a dictionary Lemmas are words with inflections… no change in part of speech…..adapts, adapting, adapted Derivations or word families… the other parts of speech…..adaptation, adaptabilty

5 What does it mean to “know” a word? Deep vocabulary knowledge (Laufer, 1997) orthography, pronunciation and spelling the root word, its inflections and derivations word meanings from core to peripheral including connotations and pragmatics the word’s lexical relationship to other words in the form of synonyms, antonyms or hyponyms (Red – Scarlet) collocations and idioms are especially important

6 Functional Reading Lexicon Minimum number of recognized words for reading comprehension requires a “threshold vocabulary” of 3000 word families (4800 lexical items) Laufer, 1989) L1 strategies transfer; 80% comprehension 4000 base words are needed for minimal 90-95% comprehension of non-specific text (Nation,1990; Laufer, 1997) 10,000 words needed to understand 95% of non- specialist text at university level (Hazenberg & Hulstijn, 1996) 14,000 – 17,000 receptive word families in NS undergraduate lexicon and graduates could have lexicon of 20,000 word families (Zechmeister et al., 1993)

7 What words do learners need to know? General Service List - GSL (West, 1953) 2000 most common words used in the English language (Basic reading) University Word List (UWL) (Xue & Nation, 1984 Excludes the GSL and has 808 words in 11 levels Academic Word List – (AWL)(Coxhead, 1998) Excludes the GSL and has 570 lexemes or headwords (3000 words) in 10 levels that most commonly occur in academic readings

8 The AWL The AWL is divided into sublists: ts1.pdf Some ideas of how to use the AWL: Make sure it is in context

9 AWL Examples assess assessable, assessed, assesses, assessing, assessment, assessments, reassess, reassessed, reassessing, reassessment, un-assessed assign assigned, assigning, assignment, assignments, assigns, reassign, reassigned, reassigning, reassigns, unassigned assist assistance, assistant, assistants, assisted, assisting, assists, unassisted

10 How do students learn? The mental lexicon can’t be seen. Learning is incremental as all parts of a word can’t be learned simultaneously (Schmitt, 2000). Receptive knowledge happens before productive (Nation, 2001).

11 Vocabulary Acquisition: Intentional or Incidental? Hulstijn, (2001) asks, Should students learn words by rote memorization or does this hinder language learning? Should students pick up new words by seeing new vocabulary in context and by picking up words by reading and listening extensively?

12 Vocabulary Learning and Direct Instruction Hulstijn calls for rich, deep information processing or elaboration in vocabulary learning, the deliberate rehearsal and practice of the information, and the retention or automatization of information, which includes the use of the knowledge.

13 How do we teach this? The i-minus one theory (Hulstijn, 2001) Aim for mastery and not mass Words need to be “noticed” and practiced through a series of strategies Direct vocabulary instruction is essential

14 Vocabulary Strategies Form or determination strategies Rehearsal of memory-related strategies Consolidation strategies Social strategies Metacognitive strategies (Schmitt, 2000)

15 The Study In an EAP university reading to write 10-week credit course of 25 students. Research questions How do students perceive direct vocabulary instruction of the AWL word list as faciliting academic reading and writing? How does contextual richness contribute to vocabulary acquisition? Methods and Data Collection Classroom observations of teaching Student and teacher interviews Student questionnaires

16 The Class Vocabulary instruction imperative as a preparation for writing Reading on branding: - “Create a buzz for yourself on Facebook” AWL: Establish, construct, create Brands target consumers with three benefits based on guaranteeing quality products, distinguishing product uniqueness and satisfying customers.

17 “People who do well with the vocabulary, do better with their essays. It is very important to practice the vocabulary.” Student generated sentences: Mainstream medicine and complementary medicine offer patients great remedies because of their integrative nature. To maintain a healthy lifestyle, people have to persist in having an exercise regimen of at least twice a week.

18 Building the Vocabulary VerbNounAdjective Immunizeimmunizationadverse Vaccinatevaccinationnegative InoculateInoculation Word parts: -ize, ate; tion, im, in Parts of speech Collocations: Adverse reaction; adverse effect be immunized against a disease

19 “The good thing about the vocabulary you have learned is that you can carry it forward.” Even though Genetically Modified products enhance taste, augment yields and increase resistance to disease, they create a threat to human health, government health and human ethics.

20 What the students had to say New vocabulary helped me develop content of essays. I use academic words now such as obtain instead of get. Vocabulary strategies for paraphrasing helped make my writing more interesting. I now choose academic words (in writing)

21 Student comments Vocabulary strategies are the most important as they really pay off in writing. I can’t be proficient in English without using these techniques. Every step counts. Vocabulary building strategies helped me the most, and then by reading more, I can build more vocabularies that are related to the topic.

22 Implications Vocabulary acquisition through reading must be supported by direct instruction that is contextualized Explicit or enhanced instruction is necessary to get ESL students to the 10,000 word family level Explicit or enhanced learning will make contextual learning more effective when students are writing across disciplines Activity types and practice can deepen the process (rich, elaborate processing and rehearsal, Input -1) (Hulstijn, 2001).

23 Future research Due to the limitations on this research based on student perception, teacher beliefs, and observation further research needs to be done. Investigate the frequency of AWL vocabulary in student essays post-direct instruction.

24 References Coxhead, A. (2000). A new academic word list. TESOL Quarterly, 34(2), Gould, R., Nation, P. & Read, J. (1990). How large can a receptive vocabulary be? Applied Linguistics,11, Hulstijn, J. (2001). Intentional and incidental second-language vocabulary learning: A reappraisal of elaboration, rehearsal and automaticity. In P. Robinson (Ed.). Cognition and Second Language Instruction. (pp ). New York: Cambridge University Press. Laufer, B. (1997). The lexical plight in second language reading: Words you don’t know, words you think you know and words you can’t guess. Canadian Modern Language Review, 50 (4), Nation, I. S.P. (2001). Learning vocabulary in another language. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. Schmitt, N. (2000) Vocabulary in language teaching. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Williams, J. (2005). Learning English for academic purposes. St. Laurent, Québec: Longman.

25 Thank you


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