Learning and Teaching Vocabulary for a Second Language

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“Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things.” (Flora Lewis, 2000) For as long as there are languages and for as there are languages, there are people studying and teaching it, but is there one way of teaching a language that is the right way? There are many aspects to learn a language, for the sake of the assignment I have been appointed only one aspect namely: Learning and teaching vocabulary.

In this report I will be comparing my views on teaching with those of an experienced teacher ,a learner and three experts, using: Concept maps, interviews and pre-assigned articles. I’ll explore a little of second language vocabulary acquisition, theories and strategies of learning and teaching vocabulary.

While creating my concept map there were four main pillars my theories rest on, namely: Time, context, balance and variation. I believe these elements are essential for teaching and learning any aspect of a language. Within these four pillars, I distinguish two different types of essentials: Time and context, to fully understand a word - Fully understanding a word means full receptive and productive comprehension. - And ‘balance and variation’ to make the learning of a word easier and more enjoyable. Arguably, time does also fit into the latter.

Time is of the essence in learning, because words only register incrementally in our system according to Jenkins, Stein and Wysocki, a learner needs six encounters with a word before it is in the permanent system. While Barcroft suggests that there have to be 5 to 16 ‘meetings’ with a word before a learner fully absorbs it’s meaning, behavior, use and pronunciation.

Whereas, Context helps to extend the ...

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...ssons and have developed the love and curiosity for the language sooner.

The interview with the learner corroborated my belief that using one method is a hazard in providing decent language education as well as the teacher saying that methods are to be used as a guideline, but are in need of extra material that does apply to the time and context the learners are expected to study.

Works Cited

Barcroft, J. (2004). Second language vocabulary acquisition: A lexical input processing approach. Foreign Language Annals, 2(73)

Hixson, J. (2012). Building vocabulary for teaching ELLs. Community Consolidated School District 146:

Koenz, M. L. (2013). Interview learner. Haarlem:

Lewis, F.Round table: Dialogue among civilizations united nations, new york, 5 september 2000 provisional verbatim transcription. Retrieved, 2000, from
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