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Teaching lexical chunks

The following lexical chunks are the most important for teaching purposes:

  • Collocations: widely traveled, rich and famous, make do with, set the table
  • Phrasal verbs: get up, run out of, go on about
  • Idioms, catch-phases and sayings: hell for leather, get cold feet, as old as the hills, mind your own business
  • Sentence frames: would you mind if…;? The thing is …; I’d … if I were you; what really gets me is …
  • Social formulae: see you later; have a nice day; yours sincerely
  • Discourse markers: frankly speaking; on the other hand; I take your point; once upon a time; to cut a long story short


Here are a few ideas for teaching collocation:

  • Learners sort words on cards into their collocational parts (e.g. warm + welcome, slim + chance, etc.) or into groups, according to whether they collocate with particular ‘headwords’: e.g. trip – business, day, return, boat; Follow up by asking learners to write sentences using these combinations.
  • Read out a list of words: learners in groups think of as many collocations or related expressions as they can. Set a time limit – the group with the most collocations wins a point. Good words for this include parts of the body, colours and opposites.
  • Fill in a collocational grid, using dictionaries, to show common collocations. For example, here’s a very simple (and completed) one for wide and broad:


wide broad  
+   door
+ + street
+ + river
  + smile
  + shoulders
  + accent
+   variety


· Odd one out tasks are also helpful. Useful:


  What is the one word in each row that does not usually go with the word on the left? winmatch war salary election race lottery earn money degree living salary interest place gainweight advantage access support wages experience  


As a general approach to the teaching of lexical phrases and collocation, the following advice is sound:

· Become more aware of phrases and collocations yourself.

· Make your students aware of phrases and collocations.

· Keep an eye on usefulness and be aware of overloading students.

· Feed in phrases on a ‘little but often’ basis.

· Introduce phrases in context, but drill them as short chunks.

· Point out patterns in phrases.

· Be ready to answer students’ questions briefly.

· Keep written records of phrases as phrases.

· Reinforce and recycle the phrases as much as you can.



How to train good vocabulary learners

Learner training

As language teachers we must arouse interest in words and a certain excitement in personal development in this area. We can help our students by giving them idea on how to learn. Studies have shown that good learners do the following things:

· They pay attention to form – which, in vocabulary terms, means paying attention to the constituents of words, to their pronunciation and to the way they are stressed.

· They pay attention to meaning – which means they pay attention to the way words are similar or different in meaning, to the connotation of words, to their style and to their associations.

· They are good guessers – which means they work out the meaning of unfamiliar words from their from and from contextual clues.

· They take risks and are not afraid of making mistakes – which means they make the most of limited resources, and they adopt strategies to cope when the right words simply don’t come forth.

· They know how to organize their own learning – by, for example, keeping a systematic record of new words, using dictionaries and other study aids resourcefully, using memorizing techniques, and putting time aside for the ‘spade work’ in language learning, such as repetitive practice.


Word cards

Here are some activities that can be done in class to encourage the independent use of word cards. Note that some of them depend on learners sharing the same L1:


Peer teaching and testing: At the beginning of the lesson, pair students off, and ask them to compare their current word card sets. Encourage them to teach each other the words in their sets that they do not share, and to test each other.


Association games: For example, each learner lays down one card at the same time, with the L2 word face up. The first to make a coherent sentence incorporating both words gets a point. (The teacher may have to adjudicate the coherence of some of the sentences.) If no association can be made by either player, put the cards aside and deal two more. Continue in this way until all the cards are used.


Guess my word: When learners are already familiar with each other's word cards, each takes a word at random, and the other has to guess which word it is by asking yes/no questions, such as Is it a noun/ verb/adjective ..? Does it begin with ...? Has it got one/two/three syllables ... etc.


De-vowelled words: Each of a pair selects a word from their word cards and writes it down without its vowels — their partner has to work out what the word is.


Ghostwriting: Each of a pair takes turns to write the word in the air, or on their partner's back. Their partner has to work out what the word is.


Categories: In pairs or small groups, learners organise their words into categories, e.g. according to whether the words have hot or cold, or masculine or feminine, or good or bad, or sweet or sour, associations.


Date: 2015-12-11; view: 1648

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