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The Ways of Teaching Vocabulary

Learners acquire vocabulary in various ways. Students are exposed to a lot of new vocabulary during lessons: by the teacher, by texts or other materials they work with. A lot of this vocabulary is automatically absorbed. (Harmer 1993: 159)

Various ways and activities are aimed directly at learning vocabulary, which is usually put into sets of somehow related words, often by topic or meaning. As McCarty (1992) suggests, before presenting new language, pre-teaching activities might be beneficial “to activate existing knowledge to make the encounter with new words more meaningful.”(McCarthy 1992: 108). Pre-teaching activities often arouse students’ attention and desire to explore a particular topic or subject in greater detail. In the latter, forms are often presented in text or another form of context and students are encouraged to discover meanings and other properties of words themselves. This type of activity is called the discovery technique. (Harmer 1993: 160). There are many possibilities how to explain or illustrate the meaning of the words. In the first place, it is necessary to mention techniques typical for ‘Direct Method’ as Thornbury 2004) specifies them “using real objects (called Realia) orAs Harmer (1993: 161-162) suggests, sense relations, definition and direct translation of words might function as yet another helpful tool for clarifying the meaning.
Thornbury (2004) listed these options as well and furthermore included an idea of clarifying the meaning by examples, such as “providing an example situation” or” giving several example sentences” (Thornbury 2004: 81).All these techniques are more or less useful for a particular situation, level and vocabulary, the best way would be in many cases to combine them and use several pictures or mime together.” (Thornbury 2004: 78). In the first stage, usually mechanical practice is applied “in the form of some of kind of oral repetition”. (Thornbury 2004: 93). This mechanical practice is followed by more open and communicative activities where learners are required to incorporate the newly studied words into some kind of speaking or writing activity. (Thornbury 2004: 100). This is often provided by various pair-work or group-work activities.
eacher should have some techniques in teaching vocabulary. It can help the students to get the most suitable activities based on their condition and to reach the best result of the study. The following are the ways to present new vocabulary according to Jeremy harmer in his book entitled “The practice of English Language Teaching (1991:161)”. He suggests some techniques in teaching vocabulary. They are realia; pictures; mime; action and gestures; contrast; enumeration; explanation and translation.

One way of presenting vocabulary is to bring the represent vocabulary into the classroom by bringing “realia” in the classroom. Word such as” postcard”, “pen”, and “ball”, can be obviously represented in this way. The teacher holds up the object (or point to it ), says the word and gets the students to repeat it.

Besides bringing a pen into the classroom, the other ways of presenting vocabulary is by using its picture. Picture can be board drawing. The other pictures are wall pictures and charts, flashcard, magazine picture, and any other non technical visual presentation. Picture can be used to explain the meaning of vocabulary items: teacher can draw something on the board or bring it in picture so that the students can understand easily. As realia, picture is working in helping the students know directly what the teachers’ vocabulary wants. 

Mime, action, and gesture
It is often impossible to explain the meaning of word and grammar either using realia or pictures. Action in particular, is probably better explained by mime. Concept such as running or smoking is easy to present in this way, so are ways of walking, expression of love, sadness, and happiness, preposition, and times.

We can see that the words can exist because of their sense and this can be used to teach the meaning. We can present the meaning of “empty” by contrasting it with “full”, “cold” by contrasting it with “hot”, “big” by contrasting it with “small “ , etc. We may present this concept with pictures or mime or by drawing attention to the contrast in meaning to ensure our students’ understanding.

Another sense is the relation of a word with another word that is more general or more specific. We can use enumeration to present meaning. For example we can say “clothes” and explain this by enumerating or listing various items of clothes.

Explaining the meaning of vocabulary items can be very difficult, especially at beginner and elementary school levels. But with intermediate students, this technique can be used. It is worth remembering that explaining the meaning of a word must include explaining the meaning of “mate”.

Translation is a quick and easy way to present the meaning of word, but it is not without problems. At the first, it is not always easy to translate words. Even translation is possible, it may make a bit too easy for students by discouraging them from interacting with the words. When translation can quickly solve a presentation problem, it is a good idea. We should hear in the middle that consistent policy toward the use of mother tongue is helpful for both teacher and students.

According to Scoot and Yteberg (1990), if we teach young learners, we must know the ways for learning. They are: (1) Words are not enough. It means most activities for young learners should include movement and involve the sense. You will have need to have plenty of object and pictures to work, to explain the material even more you must demonstrate in explaining in front of the class. (2) Play with the language. It means lets the students talk to themselves. Make up rhymes, sing songs, and tell stories. (3) Language as language. It means the spoken word is often accompanied by other clues to meaning facial expression, movement, etc. We should make full use of these clues. When pupils start to read, the language become something permanent and there are fewer other clues to meaning. Students can take a book at home, they can read it more and think about the language and work it out. (4) Variety in the classroom. This variety involves variety in technique in teaching language and variety in action. So, by this way the students do not feel boring and afraid. (5) Routines. Children are benefit knowing the roles in order to be familiar with the situation. It means the situation when the teacher explains the material in class. (6) Cooperative not competitive. The teacher is demanded to classroom as a room for sharing the experiences of the students. By this way the students will enjoy in learning because they can do what the teacher asks in group with sharing to the others. (7) Grammar. Grammar is not the best thing when we teach English to young learners. When the students make mistake in the structure, it does not matter. As a teacher, we can take a note for it, and give the correct one slowly, step by step. (8) Assessment. Even though formal assessment may not be compulsory part of work, it is always useful for the teacher to make regular notes about each student’ progress.

The ways how to teach Vocabulary
According to Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher (2009), there are some techniques in teaching vocabulary for young learners.
  1. Make it intentional. It means that select words for instruction that are precious classroom time.
  2. Make it transparent. It means that give students word solving strategies by modeling your thinking during read-aloud.
  3. Make it usable. It means that provide oral and written practice through authentic peer activities.
  4. Make it personal. It means that help words stick through well-designed independent activities.
  5. Make it a priority. It means that create a school wide focus on word learning.
The other technique which is used by researcher to take them is:
  • Make it interesting - this is often the hardest part of teaching vocab.
  • Keep it relevant - Don't teach words to your students that cannot or will not use - you're only going to put them off and make them think that learning vocabulary is a pointless exercise.
Set achievable goals - This applies to 3 main areas; (1) The words you are targeting - are they suitable for the students ability?, (2) The amount of time you give students to learn them - don't expect students to learn their words overnight or you give them too long it won't be a priority. Generally you want to introduce the words on Monday, practice through the week, and test on Friday (or some variation of this based on your class schedule), (3) The number of words you set - Avoid giving long lists of words, it’s better to learn 5 words well and be able to use them effectively in a sentence; than to try to learn 25 words which are then confused, misspell and forgotten. (4) Teach words in context and never have students write definitions of words. They are more likely to remember the word, better at using and it’s a great chance to sneak in extra writing practice.
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