Thursday, July 19, 2007

The role of vocabulary review

By Steve Kaufmann - The Linguist Institute, West Vancouver, Canada

In my experience, deliberate vocabulary review is a support activity to the main task of exposing oneself to massive input through reading and listening. Any words I study come from my reading and listening, which I have chosen.

I would find it annoying to sit through a class where a teacher is providing me with his/her examples,or forcing me to produce examples, of word or phrases chosen by the teacher. I learn better from meaningful examples from meaningful contexts, even if they reappear in a somewhat random fashion. On the other hand, any communication that takes place in the classroom is a good thing, so to that extent talking about words and phrases is good. It is just that there are so many words and phrases to learn.

Study with Flash Cards, when the words for review are chosen from content of interest to a learner, is actually quite enjoyable. I find that, and our learners find that. But it is a support activity, not "the very heart of what language learning is all about" at least in my experience.

I did a podcast recently about what might be closer to the very hear of language learning. It is entitled "Language learning is like falling in love".

The text can be found on my blog.

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