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Vocabulary Myths

Applying Second Language Research to Classroom Teaching

Keith S. Folse

Publication Year: 2013

In Vocabulary Myths, Keith S. Folse breaks down the teaching of second language vocabulary into eight commonly held myths. In debunking each myth, he introduces the myth with a story based on his 25 years of teaching experience (in the United States and abroad), continues with a presentation of what empirical research has shown on the topic, and finishes with a list of what teachers can do in their classrooms to facilitate true vocabulary acquisition. The goal of Vocabulary Myths is to foster a paradigm shift that correctly views vocabulary as fundamental in any second language learning process and demonstrates that research supports this goal-that in fact there is a wealth of empirical evidence to support these views. In addition, an important theme is that teachers have overestimated how much vocabulary students really understand, and as a result, the so-called "comprehensible input" is neither comprehensible nor input. The second language vocabulary acquisition myths reexamined in this book are: *In learning another language, vocabulary is not as important as grammar or other areas. *Using word lists to learn L2 vocabulary is unproductive. *Presenting new vocabulary in semantic sets facilitates learning. *The use of translations to learn new vocabulary should be discouraged. *Guessing words from context is an excellent strategy for learning L2 vocabulary. *The best vocabulary learners make use of one or two really specific vocabulary learning strategies. *The best dictionary for L2 learners is a monolingual dictionary. *Teachers, textbooks, and curricula cover L2 vocabulary adequately.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Cover

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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-iii

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Preface

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pp. v-viii

For years, second language learners have complained about their lack of vocabulary in their new language. During this time, experts in our field did not give much importance to vocabulary, as evidenced in the dearth of second language research studies on vocabulary. Instead, second language research dealt with syntax, motivation, contrastive analysis ...

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Acknowledgments

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p. ix-ix

This book is the result of years of teaching and studying languages inmany settings all over the world. I thank the teachers and students thatI wish to thank Batia Laufer and Jan Hulstijn for their encourage-ment and help during my early studies of second language vocabulary.Their works were some of the first vocabulary research that I read, and...

Contents

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p. xi-xi

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An Introduction to Second Language Vocabulary

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pp. 1-18

The purpose of this book is to discuss eight pervasive myths or misconceptions regarding the teaching and learning of second language vocabulary. To better appreciate this discussion, a simple overview of basic concepts in second language vocabulary study are in order. This overview is divided into two parts. The first part addresses the ...

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Myth 1: In learning another language, vocabulary is not as important as grammar or other areas

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pp. 19-34

In 1988, I took a job teaching English at a university in Urasa, a small, rural town in Niigata Prefecture in Japan. It was so rural at that time that Urasa only had only two food stores, both extremely small. If you’ve ever lived abroad for any extended period, you know that there often comes a time when all you can think about is a certain kind of food or drink that reminds you of home—even if you rarely, if ...

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Myth 2: Using word lists to learn second language vocabulary is unproductive.

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pp. 35-45

At a workshop in Japan in 1993, the noted second language acquisition expert Rod Ellis asked the audience, which was composed of perhaps 90 percent Japanese EFL teachers and 10 percent English-speaking teachers, “I assume that most of you teachers here today learned English as a Foreign Language. What methods or techniques did your ...

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Myth 3: Presenting new vocabulary in semantic sets facilitates learning

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pp. 46-58

Although all of 30 ESL textbooks that I have authored over the years deal with vocabulary either directly or indirectly, about a dozen of these books are explicitly aimed at increasing ESL learners’ base of known vocabulary: Talk a Lot (1993), Beginning Reading Practices (1997), Discussion Starters (1996), Targeting Listening and Speaking ...

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Myth 4: The use of translations to learn new vocabulary should be discouraged

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pp. 59-70

When I taught in Japan, I had the great opportunity to actually be a student in an intensive Japanese course for nonnative speakers. Though many ESL and foreign language teachers have studied a language in a foreign language classroom, not many of us ever have the chance to be a student for 25 hours a week. Having done both, I can say that being...

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Myth 5: Guessing words from context is an excellent strategy for learning second language vocabulary

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pp. 71-84

I remember an example of using context clues to decipher the mean-Spanish. At that time, I had many friends from Nicaragua who were studying at the same university where I was a student. On one occasion, I went with a small group of three or four to the supermarket to buy some ingredients that they needed to cook a special dish from ...

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Myth 6: The best vocabulary learners make use of one or two really good specific vocabulary learning strategies.

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pp. 85-106

In 1984, I was 24 years old and had an MA in TESOL with four years ESL teaching experience. In July of that year, I took my first EFL/over-The teaching was tough. We had to be at school at 5 A.M. six days a week. The curriculum was based on the Defense Language Institute materials, which at that time were very formulaic and rather dry. (Shortly ...

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Myth 7: The best dictionary for second language learners is a monolingual dictionary.

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pp. 107-126

After more than two decades of learning foreign languages, I do not own a single monolingual dictionary. In all of my language studies, I have used a bilingual dictionary. To be sure, some of these were more useful than others. In addition, some of these were more difficult to forward. Skills needed to look up the correct meaning of a word ...

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Myth 8: Teachers, textbooks, and curricula cover second language vocabulary adequately

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pp. 127-159

Part of being a good language teacher is being able to empathize with your students and understand their language needs. With this in English program at a university where I was teaching. The course was eight weeks long and consisted of one 50-minute class per day. Thus,there were 40 hours of class time. In this program, students had five...

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Conclusion

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pp. 160-163

From the viewpoint of second language learners, learning vocabulary—Unfortunately, it is also a very frustrating one. Until very recently, relatively little research had investigated the teaching and learning of second language vocabulary. Teachers, for example, received almost no real guidance from well-designed research studies on vocabulary. The larger ...

Works Cited

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pp. 164-180

Index

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pp. 181-185


E-ISBN-13: 9780472029846
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472030293

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2013