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A long period of time grammar was viewed as the main task in second language teaching. Mastery of grammatical structures was the main goal in second language acquisition. The Grammar--Translation Method dominated second language teaching. On the contrary, vocabulary teaching and acquisition were of relatively minor importance. Vocabulary development was approached as some kind of auxiliary activity and, often through memorizing decontextualised word lists. The relatively minor importance attached to lexical knowledge and context was visible in the scant attention paid to it by second language researchers and teachers in the last decade.


1.1 A Brief Introduction of CLT 5
1.2 Vocabulary Knowledge. The Importance of Vocabulary Teaching 7
2.1 Vocabulary notebooks. Presenting Vocabulary. 12
2.2 Presenting Vocabulary through Activities 16

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According to De Neve and Heppner, the main steps of designing role-play are summarized as follows: (1) Firstly, teachers should choose a situation for a role play, keeping in mind students' needs and interests. Teachers should select role-plays that will give the students an opportunity to practice what they have learned. (2) The next step is to come up with ideas on how this situation may develop. Students' level of language proficiency should be taken into consideration. (3) After finishing selecting a suitable role play, teachers should predict the language needed for it. It is recommended to introduce any new vocabulary before the role play. (4) This step implies providing students with concrete information and clear role descriptions so that they could play their roles with confidence. Teachers should describe each role in a manner that will let the students identify with the characters. (5) Teachers ask for some volunteers to act out role-play in front of the class in this step. It is recommended that teachers avoid intervening in a role play with error corrections not to discourage the students. (6) Once the role play is finished, teachers should give feedback to students [14, 57]. This means pointing out students’ advantages and disadvantages.

Vocabulary teaching and acquisition has assumed an important role since 1980s in second language teaching. Communicative Language Teaching, as an eminent second language teaching approach, lays emphasis on learning target language through communicative activities [15, 93].

Communicative Language Teaching based on many modern humanistic and communicative theories is effective in English vocabulary teaching and learning in many aspects:

1) In the CLT classroom much vocabulary is not taught in the form of wordlist of isolated words any more, but taught in authentic contexts. Vocabulary teaching focuses on developing communicative proficiency rather than commanding the forms of the target language.

2) CLT makes learners acquire vocabulary knowledge naturally, rather than learning intentionally. Apart from it, the modified target language input which is gotten from conversational interactions between the teacher and learners enables them to get better understanding of vocabulary knowledge.

3) CLT promotes learners’ communicative competence and stimulates their inner motivation since the communicative activities are close and relevant to their daily life.

4) CLT makes learners adopt the responsibility to their own learning and encourages them to discover the forms and structures of target language for themselves.

5) CLT prompts the development of learners’ spirit of team cooperation by means of the communicative activities and cultivates learners’ individuality by expressing their different views and ideas freely in the conversational interactions between them.

Additionally, through the observation of the English lesson CLT makes great demands upon the professional skills and competence of teachers. CLT teachers need to have other abilities as well as the proficiency of target language, such as organizing ability, insight into learners. Therefore, it is recommended that second language teachers should enhance their standard in order to improve the effects in practical teaching.




2.1 Vocabulary notebooks. Presenting Vocabulary.


First of all, the most essential for teaching vocabulary is the presence of a vocabulary notebook. I strictly disagree with the opinion that there is no need for students to keep vocabulary notebooks. Such a notebook is a valuable reference tool for listing words, phrases, meanings etc. Although I assume this fact as a generally known and widely used I mention it because I have lately met a few students who asked me for help with preparing them for exams either for their school or an evening course. They were not able to present their vocabulary notebooks and even worse they supplied an explanation that according to their original teachers there is no need for keeping their vocabulary notebooks as all they need is to be found in their textbooks. As I was not their teacher and knew nothing about their previous studies it was quite difficult for me to choose the

right expressions and to select or create adequate sentences and examples for practising and testing these students. If they had had their notes it would have been much easier  for all of us. I would know what expressions to use and which areas / topics to focus on. They would be able to practice expressions they had studied and possible stress could have been avoided from an early beginning.

There are many reasons for keeping a private vocabulary notebook. At this point we are not talking only about a neat list of words that is used by teacher for examining students’ knowledge. Notebooks should be tools for students in the first place. It is simple. If the teacher leaves it to students themselves to decide which expressions they will note into their notebooks (except the given ones) students feel responsibility for choosing the right expressions and pay more attention to what they actually decide to write down into their notebooks. This is a very important point. Thanks to this they even feel responsible for learning the chosen expressions as they noted them on purpose, of their own will. If a word seems to be important to them and they think it would be good to know it, they note it. From my own experience it is possible to say that this strategy usually works well with most of the students.

If the responsibility for choosing vocabulary should be shifted to students then they must be familiar with basic rules. Here are some of them:

- note a word that you do not know

- note a word that you have already met and noted before but you are not sure

about it yet

- note a word that is of a different word category than a word that you have noted

or met before (possibly note its variations next to each other)

- note an expression or collocation which seems to be unusual and can cause

potential troubles

- note phrasal verb and its variations

- note prepositional phrase

- note different meanings of the same word (possibly add a model sentence to

make sure the right meaning is clear)

Michael Lewis has expressed his suggestion about how to record new language into two points:

  1. try to learn whole expressions containing useful words, rather than just the

words, even though that seems much more difficult

  1. when you record a new lexical pattern in your notebook, consciously try to think of other similar examples to those of the pattern [16, 149 ].

All mentioned above is of course just an example of some rules. They can and theyshould vary according to many different aspects and definitely according to individual students and purposes. It should be always teacher’s responsibility to set adequate and the most useful rules for their students because without a systematically kept vocabulary notebook it is quite difficult for students to learn up and therefore build their vocabulary properly.

There is just one more thing students should be explained. It is very useful to arrange the selected expressions into blocks according to certain principles (units, topics, word categories…). Such an ordering can help them with learning adequate groups of words somehow connected together and possibly strengthen the inside connection between them. Individual grouping of words should make sense and encourage the need of students to learn each of the noted words.).

There are various aspects to think about when presenting new vocabulary. Considering a lesson and its parts vocabulary may be introduced at the beginning or at the end of the lesson or it can be presented at any point of the lesson. It depends on a method, approach, circumstances or simply an activity for choosing the appropriate moment.

The most usual situation is that students ask for a meaning of a word just when they need to know it. Beside that, there is a number of ways how to present vocabulary to the class. Some of them are shortly introduced below.

  1. “Vocabulary box”

A small box, such as a shoe box, is a very useful tool in the classroom - it can become a vocabulary box. You also need some small blank cards or pieces of paper.

At the end of each vocabulary lesson - for example 'Houses and Homes' - either you or the students should write words from the lesson on different cards. So, you may end up with ten words on ten cards - bedroom, kitchen, roof, window…- and these cards are then placed in the vocabulary box. If you have time, and with better classes, you, or the students, may write a definition of the word on the reverse of each card.

This vocabulary box can then be used at any time to review the vocabulary studied over the weeks.

You could simply pick words from the box at random, give the definition and ask for the word. This can be done as a simple team game.Or you may try something more active. For example, when you've had this vocabulary box for a month or two months and there are quite a lot of cards in there, you might say to the students 'OK, collectively I want all these cards divided into nouns, adjectives and verbs … Go! You have three minutes'. Or, you might say 'OK I want all these cards divided into lexical sets … Go!'. Or, you might say 'Each corner of the room is a different lexical set - that one's furniture, that one's medicine, that one is food and that one is sport. Put the cards in the right corner, you have one minute to do this…Go!'. Then they're all running around trying to get their words in the right corner. This could also be done in teams, giving each team a handful of words to sort.

This box just becomes so flexible in how you can use it. It could be at the end of the lesson. For example 'You can't leave the classroom until you've defined two words that are in the box'. Vocabulary boxes are fantastic and they take so little time but provide so many activities.

  1. “Vocabulary self-study activities”

Here are some tips you can give your students to help them with their vocabulary acquisition and self study.

- Make your own word box

- Use one card per word, with the English on one side and a translation on the    other.

- Test yourself with the cards, sort them into categories, play games with them.

- Find a good basic vocabulary word list, say of about 1 - 2000 words which are sorted according to subject areas.

- Revise 8 words per day regularly. In your mind, try to lock the particular word onto the image of an object (e.g. 'influenza' - think of a person sneezing).

- To practise, randomly pick a number of words and make up a simple, but probably crazy, story using the words. You can do the same with the words in your vocabulary box.

- Have a good general attitude towards words

- Note down all new words.

- 'Fish for language' by going through life with an open eye and attentive ear.

- 'Soliloquize', i.e. translate along in your mind silently as you are doing things (as if you were speaking to an imaginary friend by your side), as you are listening to the news, as you watch people doing something, as you see any object around.

- Read aloud to yourself from printed text.

- Increase your exposure to words


- BBC Radio (shortwave world receiver)

- Books

- Magazines Newspapers (from UK/USA)

- English-language films on video

- Pop songs (wonderful for vocabulary and grammar!)

- Correspondence with an English native speaker pen-friend

c)Self-Explanatory Approach

There are practically two ways of presenting new vocabulary. In the first one a student receives a list of English words with their meanings explained in their native language to learn. The list may or may not be related to the current topic. This way of presenting new vocabulary is self-explanatory. It does not need much explanation. It is an easy way for both students and a teacher.

 d)Present Vocabulary with a Dictionary

In a variation of the above-mentioned approach students receive a list of English words without their explanation. They are supposed to translate the particular words themselves - in most cases with the use of dictionaries. Using dictionaries is undoubtedly very contributory for students but unfortunately quite unpopular as it can be a time consuming procedure taking into account the fact that every unit requires to learn and therefore look up quite a number of new words. Some help to that could be a use of PC Translator tool which works fast and offers various possible translations / meanings of a word [17, 185]. This can also later lead to further short but very useful discussions about the accuracy of choosing the right expression for the concrete situation.

 e)Contextual Approach

On the other hand there has emerged a new teaching approach lately – so called contextual approach, which has become very poplar nowadays. It requires an active cooperation from students, which is very positive for their learning. Students do not work with any list of words. They are encouraged to use vocabulary they are familiar with and in case they need to use an expression they do not know or when they come across a word they do not understand then they should add it into their vocabulary. They are supposed to find out the meaning of such words themselves or with assistance of their teacher. This seems to be and probably is a very useful tool for teachers and their students but unfortunately not for everyone. Students are different and have different needs and learning habits. It is very important to take into consideration individual students and their personalities. Generally speaking young students are open to new teaching strategies, new approaches. But there are older students, adults, who are in most cases used to certain ways of teaching and more or less strictly insist on keeping on them. It usually is possible to make them realise that it is more interesting and effective to do things new ways but this “effort” can sometimes make them feel uneasy, nervous and uncomfortable [18, 52]. These feelings then affect their attitude to learning and can be very disruptive as students may build sort of mental blocks that can lead to frustration and restriction to use the target language. Some of them are even willing to leave the course and most probably loose their faith in any other courses. This model can seem to be too catastrophic but it unfortunately happens. Teachers’ responsibility is to avoid such a situation and on the contrary create students’ friendly environment, which would inspire them rather than suppress. Teachers should carefully choose right and suitable activities for such students.

  f) Pre-Teaching Unknown Words

There is another possible way of presenting new vocabulary, which seems to be very reasonable and appropriate. Students are pre-taught unknown words before each activity. It requires a short preparation from a teacher so that they are aware of the text and vocabulary used there and can decide which words are new, difficult or key words and present them before the activity [20, 39]. It is also very positive that through this technique students are able to manage to go through various levels of texts, which can be very motivating for them. Every step raising students’ self-confidence is important in learning language and has positive effect on the whole learning process. It is good to create situations where students see their success and this is a very useful option for that.


2.2 Presenting Vocabulary through Activities


The previous way is closely connected with presenting new vocabulary through activities. It practically does not matter if it is reading, speaking, listening or writing. Students work with single expressions, phrases or model sentences. They are supposed to get familiar with them, to find out the right context for their usage and use them finally in a variety of new sentences. It prevents possible future occurrence of difficulties with using the newly learned words in the right context. It is in a way inventory learning and is very effective. Whatever students discover themselves it engraves on their minds and remains there better than things learned mindlessly and with no connections by heart. It eventually does not matter which of the ways of presenting new vocabulary is used as long as it is not still the same one and as it meets the needs of particular students. Teachers should always keep in mind that they must respond to their class, concrete situation and atmosphere. They should be able to react flexibly and change their approach if necessary or appropriate.

           a)Mnemonic Strategies

Mnemonic strategies are systematic procedures that help to increase memory. They are very useful when students are faced with a lot of difficult instructional materials. E.g. it is a convenient method for remembering the meanings of vocabulary words. It is veryeffective with learning difficult words and it also has a great effect on students with learning difficulties. The name comes from Greek mythology where Mnemosyne was a goddess of memory. Mnemonics use the principle of an association between a cue and the memory, which was made during the original experience. When the cue appears again the memory returns. Mnemonic can be a word, rhyme, sentence, poem, acronym etc.

Although there exists many interesting web pages on the Internet offering ideas and examples of mnemonic help I do not use it often because it usually works better if a specific ‘mnemo’ is discovered for a concrete situation and even better if students are the ones who actually work on discovering the mnemo themselves.

Eg.:   “The memory game”

This is an adaptation of the popular game we all played as children when we had to pick up matching pictures, but in this activity we use the two parts of collocations.

During regular classes, note down the word combinations that come up. Then put each part of the collocation on 2 separates pieces of paper. Here is an example I had when we were talking about the environment. The word combinations were:







cut down









polar ice-caps



The first part of each phrase should be written on one coloured sheet of paper or, if you haven't got coloured paper, in a different coloured pen. Then with a different coloured pen, or paper, write the second part of the phrase, for example, 'ozone' on the first and 'layer' on the second.  


  • Put all of the first parts of each phrase together, face down on the floor. Then mix up the second group of words / phrases face down in a separate group to the first.
  • In groups students work together to pick up one piece of paper from each group so as to make a phrase from the previous class.
  • As the students match them up incorrectly students start to recall the correct collocation or phrase.
  • The activity is fun which also aids efficient memorising of the target language. The more opportunities we allow our students to see the words the more likely they are to actually have them 'stuck in their heads' for easy access at a later stage.
  1. Repetition

Learning of language items is primary but exercise and activities focused on repetition are very important too. It is supposed to be the third and last stage of so called PPP principle (Present –  Practice – Produce). Repetition is a very useful way of not only bringing to mind and revising vocabulary items, which students has already learned, but it is also a great chance to find out what has already been well mastered by students and what needs more practice or possibly more explanation to be fixed. When we do exercises we concentrate on the parts that are not clear or make any kind of trouble (pronunciation, linking, tenses, collocations, meaning…). The problematic parts are marked to be easily found for later checking. My students were asked not to write answers into their students’ books for being able to work on the same exercise more times. Is it not a problem because the key for the exercises is available and if not we note the right answers into their exercise books [22, 70]. This way they can work and practice with the exercise at home. Doing the same exercise twice might seem to be boring but it is not and it is very effective indeed. Repetition of a certain exercise can help to improve the language enormously. Every time a problematic word or phrase is repeated either in the same or in different context is becomes more clear and familiar. The types of exercise we usually do are matching parts of collocations, expressions, lines of dialogues; gap-filling with supplied words/expressions; finishing sentences (I would like to……); true/false (correct/incorrect) exercises for reading comprehension or checking grammar used in supplied sentences.

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