Fri, 29 Dec 2017 12:57:27 +0000Geralde Vincent-BancroftWhen we make the decision to learn a language, we all know that we’ll have to learn new words and grammar to be able to use this new acquired tongue. We rarely apprehend in its fullness what it entails and the effort necessary to learn this new vocabulary.
First let’s make clear that although…
When we make the decision to learn a language, we all know that we’ll have to learn new words and grammar to be able to use this new acquired tongue. We rarely apprehend in its fullness what it entails and the effort necessary to learn this new vocabulary.
First let’s make clear that although it involves words, vocabulary is also about understanding these words.
Vocabulary is then defined as ” The words of a language, single items and phrases and chunks, including of several words which convey a particular meaning.”[ Tesol.org]
What does this mean?
Let’s take these Spanish words: Buenos = good( plural), and días = days. We can learn them separately as individual words, and put together as chunks: Buenos días which means Good morning.
Why is vocabulary so important?
Vocabulary is the backbone of any language. It is the part that gives structure to it all.
You will be able to make yourself understood even ignoring grammatical structures, but you will never be able to do the same if you ignore the words and phrases yo need to do so.
The more you advance in your studies of the second language,the more significant it becomes for you to learn more productive vocabulary to help you acquire fluency.
In a book published by TESOL.ORG , it describes features of vocabulary knowledge where three important aspects can be seen:
– Speaking form ( Pronunciation)
– Written form (Spelling)
– Word parts ( Prefix, Root, and Suffix )
Knowing the root of a word can help you understand other words with similar roots using deduction ( by guessing).
What is the best way to learn vocabulary?
There isn’t a unique “golden” way to learn because acquiring vocabulary knowledge is a personal activity. What is best for you might not be adequate for others. So you have to find your unique style although the following advice might be helpful.
It has been shown by multiple researchers that chunking is the best method to assure not only that you learn the vocabulary but also to help you recall them when necessary.
How often have you spent time memorising single words with flashcards or with the help of memory Apps, to find out that you can’t use them simply because you don’t remember them. I almost can see you nodding if you are true to yourself. You blame your poor memory and promise to work harder during next session. There is a scientific reason for your forgetfulness. Your brain is not wired to remember isolated words but to recall short patterns of maximum four items at a time. Hence the importance of fitting the words you are learning into groups your brain can easily remember.
It is recommended that you group these words and learn them as a unit; and this is called chunking.
Chunking said in a simple way is learning word combinations with a specific meaning. These words only become meaningful when they are connected to other words.
In any language activity you do, keep a vocabulary notebook handy. Write down the new words you find preferably as a chunk.
Let me give you an example.
Let’s analyse this Spanish sentence:
Traté de sacarle alguna información sobre la fiesta sorpresa, pero no me dijo nada.
I tried to extract some information from her about the surprise party, but she didn´t tell me anything.
If you want to memorise these words, chunking is the way to go.
Traté de sacarle = I tried to extract
alguna información = some information
Sobre la fiesta sorpresa = about the surprise party
No me dijo nada = He/she didn’t tell me anything
You will be able to reuse these chunks in other contexts if you learn them this way.
Example: ? Tienes alguna información sobre el paciente?
Do you have any information about the patient?
Chunking might not be easy at first, but in everything practice makes perfect.
let me know how you study your vocabulary, and do you recall most of it?
Please leave a comment.