Teaching Vocabulary to Young English Learners

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Teaching English vocabulary to young learners

A crucial component of learning a foreign language is the acquisition of vocabulary. For young learners, the very first words that they acquire could lay the profound basis for a better later learning of the children. This study is intended to investigate the specific application of techniques in teaching English vocabulary to young learners. I strived to investigate the current techniques in teaching vocabulary to young learners and studied the difficulties that teachers encounter during this process. Oral interviews, questionnaire and observation schemes were used as useful instruments for data collection. The questionnaire-based survey aims to scrutinize teachers’ common techniques in teaching vocabulary to young learners, general difficulties that they meet in teaching. Oral interviews and observations serve to elaborate on the information gathered from questionnaires and discover teachers’ opinions on how to solve arisen problem in language classroom, especially during vocabulary section. The result of this survey indicates that using flashcards in presenting, sorting tasks in practicing and sentence completion in revising vocabulary are three most preferably common techniques in teaching young learners the English vocabulary. The exploitation of combining different techniques is considered rather limited; in conclusion,, this study provides some suggestions for teachers to realize the benefits of having available activities and games in young learners’ classroom.

1. Introduction
I chose this topic for my research study because I consider that for young learners, vocabulary and grammar are two essential units that require them to master at early stage. It was once claimed that “experienced teachers of English as a Second Language know very well how important vocabulary is. They know their students must learn thousands of words that speakers and writers of English use.” (Allen, 1983). The well-known linguist Wilkins, one of the leaders in language learning and teaching, indicated that “without grammar, very little could be conveyed, without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed” Teaching vocabulary is considered to be an add- on to teaching grammar or simply a by-product of language teaching and communicative functions. The reasons are: firstly, too many words in one sentence are believed to break its grammar structure and spoil children in learning systematic grammar; secondly, it is thought that vocabulary can be learned through experience only and therefore, there is little need for the teachers to focus much on teaching their students vocabulary; and thirdly, they put the emphasis of teaching grammar on priority to vocabulary are already taken too much of any lesson in the classroom. The basic concept of how important teaching vocabulary in class is, was not recognized until late 1970s and 1980s when people realized the necessity of vocabulary in reading comprehension (Allen: p.5)

Learning a new language with native speakers can provoke learners’ motivation and boost their confidence in quickly obtaining language step by step, native teachers, in many circumstances have to face the obstacle of slow or misbehaved students, particularly in vocabulary section. This study therefore was conducted, aiming at reviewing common techniques in teaching vocabulary to young learners.

2. An overview of Vocabulary

2.1.1. Definition
In order to find the best and most easy-to-understand definition of the vocabulary, is such an unfeasible task. Each linguist or scholar, in his specialized field, with his own set of criteria has found out for his own a way to define vocabulary. However, in the most popular way, Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary has applied a meaning for vocabulary as “all the words which exist in a particular language or subject.” In the context of learning English as a Foreign Language, the vital role of vocabulary...
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