Vocabulary is the essential factor, required for mastering a language. Whereas past and contemporary emphasis often on language structure, vocabulary is equally vital, possibly more important. Simply by accumulating a great number of lexis, learners can speak English fluently and read rapidly, write correctly. Nevertheless, recalling words are always the core obstacle for primary learners.
Moreover vocabulary does not exist as an isolated item in a language. That is, words an interwoven in a complex system in which knowledge of various levels of lexical item is required in order to achieve adequate understanding in listening or reading or produce ideas successfully in speaking and writing.
Ronald Carter observes that "for many years vocabulary has been the poor relation of language teaching" In recent years, however, the teaching of vocabulary has received ever-increasing attention from scholars in second-language teaching.
Some learners have a low curiosity in learning vocabulary. This makes them have less confidence in learning English well. It will even make them gradually give up studying English. The question “how to make younger students no longer feel it is boring to learn vocabulary?” it is really worth for discussing from the classroom teacher’s point of view. Millis claims that good communication and cooperation between teachers and learners are beneficial for teaching primary pupils vocabulary words.
Theory and practice in vocabulary learning and teaching
A great deal of vocabulary work consists of isolated drill of words that possibly will or will not be encountered in a related context, i.e., a social one or an academic one.
Every day in their classrooms, as qualified teachers are faced with teaching lexis in a range of ways for a variety of goals, they are always concerned with three of the eight questions listed by Blachowicz about how to design and implement effective instruction. The questions are, “Which words should be taught?”, “What approaches can bridge the early learning „vocabulary gap?”, and “Can technology be used to enhance vocabulary learning?”.
Which words should be taught?
Beck said that there are several methods that a teacher can apply to choose words that are appropriate for study by his or her class.
Suggested approaches include picking the words that are not well mastered in learners vocabulary and will be encountered frequently in the future “selecting words that are important to what is being read, and choosing words based on the ability to use this word or word parts to learn other words”
Nan Jiang states on a study she performed to find out what vocabulary items may be selected, at least in preliminary glossary lists. She explains that first children should not learn words in isolation, but rather than in a context. She also said that they learn the concept of the word represents at the same time they learn the words in practice; hence word form and word meaning are inseparable.
What approaches can bridge the early learning vocabulary gap?
Hart and Risley said, primary school children have different levels in mastering vocabulary this difference is sometimes referred to as the vocabulary gap. Based on this vocabulary gap, Cunningham and Stanovich give a suggestion for solving this situation.
Reading aloud to pupils, such as telling a story, is an effective way for giving students opportunities to widen their vocabulary. When the children are listening to the stories, they will be given the chance to review their oral vocabularies. At the same time, some of new and advanced words can be introduced effectively.
Robbins and Ehri also suggest, children who can only master quite limited vocabularies are unlikely to learn new vocabulary incidentally; instead, “a thoughtful, well-designed method of storybook reading will be applied to maximize their learning”.
Can technology be used to enhance vocabulary learning?
Mckenna noted that the better method to teach primary school pupil is to make them recognize new vocabulary in the context of the storybook. Pupils listen to these words in the text. For example, many electronic books for school use have a rich context for word learning. Storybooks using the multi-media of computers help pupils to learn English vocabulary.
Recently, the most effective ways to teach vocabulary are those which is connected with the academic courses and include attention to word learning. Teaching vocabulary should be related to aspects which are relevant and significant for students motivation.