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I. The organization of the study
USING AIDS TO TEACH VOCABULARY
I. Reason for choosing the subject
1. Importance of vocabulary
Since learning English is very popular in non-English speaking countries,
developing modern assisted-learning tools that support effective English
learning is a critical issue in the English - language education field. Learning
English involves memorization and practice of a large number of vocabulary
words and numerous grammatical structures. Vocabulary learning is a principal
issue for English learning because vocabulary comprises the basic building
blocks of English sentences. Therefore, many studies have attempted to improve
the efficiency and performance when learning English vocabulary. With the
accelerated growth in wireless and mobile technologies, mobile learning using
mobile devices such as PDAs, tablet PCs, and cell phones has gradually become
considered effective because it inherits all the advantages of e-learning and
overcomes limitations of learning time and space that limit web-based learning
systems. Therefore, this study presents a personalized mobile English
vocabulary learning system based on Item Response Theory and learning
memory cycle, which recommends appropriate English vocabulary for learning
according to individual learner vocabulary ability and memory cycle. The
proposed system has been successfully implemented on personal digital assistant
(PDA) for personalized English vocabulary learning. The experimental results
indicated that the proposed system could obviously promote the learning
performances and interests of learners due to effective and flexible learning
mode for English vocabulary learning.
2. Vocabulary in real high school
In real high school When introducing new vocabulary, the teacher just
explains the meanings quickly with Vietnamese equivalents and asks the
students to take notes. Although this translation technique is time-saving, it is
not effective at all. The students may find it sheer torture to stuff their pitiful
heads with meaningless words and rigid definitions.
Since teaching method determines learners’ success in learning English, it
should be updated so that every vocabulary lesson becomes more interesting and
effective. In fact, more teachers have lately begun to adapt visual techniques,
verbal techniques and combine different techniques in presenting new
vocabulary. However, not many teachers have known how to make the best of
this newly-employed technique. Some teachers even belittle the importance of
innovating teaching methodology and refuse to update or apply new techniques
to teach new words.
While the traditional method is being criticized and discouraged, the new
method also demonstrates many shortcomings. It is unquestionable that the new
teaching method makes a lesson more fun and lively to both the teacher and the
students. However, it can be very time-consuming. There may be not much time
left for the students to do the tasks in their textbooks and they will not remember
the main grammatical points. “The lesson cannot be effective enough with the
new method if the load of knowledge is so overwhelming while the teacher
cannot find a sensible way to arrange the time properly between revision and
practice” (Anh, 2006).
Practically, the two techniques are co-existing and each has its own merits
and defects. What matters is whether visual aids – the new technique mentioned
in Anh (2006) are really beneficial to students’ vocabulary improvement as
compared with translation technique. Additionally, another question is raised,
that is, whether students can be motivated with visual teaching aids, verbal aids,
and combining different methods
- According to old method ( only translate new vocabulary) In reality
teaching vocabulary gets the following results ( Unit 2 –personal experiences
and Unit 7 world population period A : reading- class 11a1- Nguyen Thi Loi
high school- Thanh Hoa province).
The number of
II. Aims of the study
The present study aims at assessing the effectiveness of visual aids in
improving students’ performance as compared with translation technique.
Equally important, the authors make an attempt to find out whether this
approach positively contributes to creating a good motivation for students in
learning vocabulary. With the aims of the study, we try to seek the answers to
the following questions:
1. Is there any difference in high school students’ performance when
learning vocabulary with visual aids and when being taught with translation
2. Are high school students motivated in vocabulary lessons that employ
visual aids , and verbal method and combine different methods in teaching?
In accordance with the above research questions, two main hypotheses are made
by the researchers: (1) Teaching vocabulary with visual aids, verbal aids and
combine different methods does positively enhance high school students’
performance as compared with translation technique; (2) High school students
are highly motivated when visual aids, verbal methods and combine different
methods are applied in vocabulary lessons.
I. Types of vocabulary
1. Active and passive vocabulary
Vocabulary items can be classified into two types: active and passive
vocabulary. Active vocabulary is defined as “words which students will need to
understand and also use themselves.” (Doff, 1988, p. 19) 1 In teaching this type
of vocabulary, it is necessary that teachers spend time giving examples and
asking questions to check students’ understanding. Teachers also need to show
the students the possible contexts where these words can occur so that students
know how to use them appropriately and effectively. Active vocabulary words
are vital for the productive skills such as speaking and writing.
On the other hand, passive vocabulary is characterized as “words which
we want students to understand (e.g. when reading a text), but which they will
not need to use themselves.” (Doff, 1988, p. 19) 1 Therefore, teachers only
present passive items quickly with simple examples or leave them for the
students to guess from the context. Passive vocabulary words are especially
useful for receptive skills of reading and listening.
By carefully picking out the important words to teach, teachers can
improve students’ vocabulary learning ability and make students become more
eager to learn new words.
2. Concrete and abstract vocabulary
Vocabulary can also be classified into concrete and abstract types.
Concrete vocabulary represents “the entity that can be physically perceived
through the sense either in the form of objects or in the form of events”
(Mallikarjun, 2002). In other words, people can see or touch the things. In
contrast, vocabulary items representing “the entity like love, soul, and fear
can be called abstract vocabulary” (Mallikarjun, 2002) 7 This is because
these concepts cannot be physically perceived. People need to use their
imagination to sense them mentally. In other words, people can only feel or
experience them but can not touch such concepts as real objects. In terms
of teaching, due to the diverse features of concrete and abstract words,
teachers have to apply various ways of teaching to present their meaning.
For concrete ones, teachers can show meaning visually such as using
miming, realia, pictures, actions, gestures, facial expressions or objects.
Meanwhile, the meaning of abstract ones can be showed through examples,
situations or translations. Teachers have difficulty in explaining abstract
words to students because they are not physically represented in teaching
environment (Igbaria, n.d). “It is easier to remember concrete words like a
chair and a dog than abstract words” (Přibilová, 2006, p. 18) 10
3. Aspects of vocabulary
As mentioned above, learning vocabulary is a big challenge for students
in high school. Students need a lot of guidance right from the very beginning.
Therefore, the teacher’s role in teaching vocabulary is very important. In
addition to selecting the essential vocabulary to teach, the teacher must know
what aspects of lexis need to be taught in the classroom. Vocabulary knowledge
should include such aspects as the form of the word, its grammar, collocation,
different aspects of meaning and the word formation (Ur 1996, as cited in
Sussane Flohr, 2008). 2 Basic dimensions of a lexical item are presented as
The first important aspect that defines vocabulary is the form of words,
consisting of pronunciation and spelling. Pronunciation refers to the way a word
is spoken. It includes word stress, sentence stress, intonation, and word linking.
“Pronunciation has been seen as the Cinderella of language teaching due to its
complexity” (Kelly, 1969, as cited in Qian-Mei Zhang, 2009) 1 “It is believed
that only few learners can ever attain native-like pronunciation in the foreign
language, especially those who learn to speak a second language after puberty”
(Lenneberg, 1967, as cited in Qian-Mei Zhang, 2009) 1 Generally, not every
learner is capable of sounding like a native speaker, yet it is possible to develop
correct pronunciation. Bad pronunciation often confuses the listener and
sometimes causes unexpected misunderstanding. That is why it is crucial to
teach students the right pronunciation so that they will not come up against any
difficulties in expressing themselves.
Spelling is another factor contributing to a learner’s language competence.
As defined by Kress (2000), “spelling is knowing how to write words correctly”