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Difficulties in Teaching Vocabulary

By omarhassan Dec 17, 2010 671 Words
Every language has its trouble spots, so does English. Learning the words of a foreign language is not an easy business since every word has its form, meaning, and usage and each of these aspects of the word may have its difficulties. Indeed, some English words are difficult in form (daughter, busy, bury ,woman , women ) and easy in usage; other words are easy in form (enter, get, happen) and difficult in usage.

Consequently, words may be classified according to the difficulties students find in assimilation(إستيعاب). The analysis of the words within the foreign language allows us to distinguish the following groups of words: concrete, abstract, and structural.

Ch. Fries in his book "The structure of English" distinguished four types of words according to the function in the sentences and their combinability with other words: 1. Function words, ex. "do" signaling(مشيرا إلى) question 2. Substitute words, he, she, they etc.

3. Grammatically distributed words "some", "any"...
4. Content words

The number of words in the first three groups is rather small, say 200 in round numbers in English. The forth group, content words, constitutes the bulk of the language vocabulary.

Two further distinctions in vocabulary are required to complete our model. We need to distinguish between a common core vocabulary known to all the members of a language community and specialized vocabularies, known only to special groups. We are of course primarily interested in the common core vocabulary. The other distinction according to C. Friese is that between vocabulary for production and vocabulary for recognition. As a rule, our reception of vocabulary is much larger than our production of vocabulary.

Words denoting concrete things (book, street, sky), actions (walk, dance, read), and qualities (long, big, good) are easier to learn than words denoting abstract notions (world, home, believe, promise, honest). Structural words are the most difficult for Russian speaking pupils. In teaching pupils a foreign language the teacher should bear this in mind when preparing for the vocabulary work during the lesson.

Difficulties in teaching vocabulary are determined not only by linguistic factors, but also by psychological and methodological ones. An experimental study was made to test the retention of two types of words. (a) Words that have to be inferred.

(b) Words glossed in a text in TEXTFUN, an interactive program on the Internet for the practice of reading skills for academic purposes.

The results show that remembrance of the inferred words was much higher than that of the glossed words. Experiments on vocabulary showed that students remember best when they have actually done something with the words they are learning. Students must not just repeat words, they must be involved into some kind of activity, discovery technique and so on.

-- Methods and approaches of teaching vocabulary at university Methodology of vocabulary teaching /learning has undergone a lot of many changes in the course of FLT development.

In the period when the grammar translation method was used, vocabulary was taught by means of translation when students were given lists of words with their translation to be learned (crammed): in audio- lingual method teaching vocabulary was also tuned up to grammar and words were presented and learned in structures.

Nowadays in the communicative cognitive approach vocabulary competence is very important for communication in a FL. It is impossible to read, write, speak or listen without knowledge of vocabulary.

Practice and theory of FL shows that the importance of teaching/learning vocabulary can hardly be overvalued. When the students are faced with an unfamiliar text in the foreign language, the first challenge to the teacher seems to be its vocabulary. When the text has many new words, students are in despair and seem to be discouraged. The connection between vocabulary knowledge and success in reading comprehension tests has been shown in many studies.

When the vocabulary of the text is more familiar, students are more likely to continue with the reading task. There are many methods teachers use to teach vocabulary or to encourage vocabulary self-learning by their students.

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