Vocabulary Myth

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

Research shows that dictionary use is an essential skill in learning a new language. Many teachers tolerate the use of bilingual dictionaries with the goal of learners using a monolingual dictionary as soon as possible. There is absolutely no empirical evidence to support this. Dictionaries allow students opportunities to learn polysemous words. Bilingualized dictionaries are the best for ELLs. Bilingualized dictionaries include the word in English, an English definition, a L1 definition, and an example of the word used in a sentence.


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Vocabulary Myth

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

“Regardless of how much instruction we do in schools, students will actually do most of their learning independently. It therefore makes sense to encourage students to adopt personal plans to expand their vocabularies over time.” Thus, one of the main classroom activities for teachers of vocabulary is the direct teaching of learning strategies related to vocabulary. Research has not proven one vocabulary-learning strategy to be better than the rest. Research has also proven that the cultural backgrounds of the students have a great deal to do with the type of language learning behavior likely to be used by students. The best learners utilize several vocabulary-learning strategies. Researchers have concluded that time and learner independence were the two factors most associated with success in vocabulary learning and higher overall English proficiency. One of the most important factors in learning a word is the number of times the learner retrieves it. Help students make a useful vocabulary notebook and refer to it often. Teachers should introduce students to as many strategies as possible.

  • Morphology: point out the meaning of the parts of a word. For example, review: re=again, view=see, thus review=to see again.
  • Imagery: use the letters of the word, the length of the word, the form of the word to connect it to meaning. For example, a valley looks like a large V.
  • Connotation: to teach the phrasal verb call off, ask students if off has a positive or negative meaning. Point out the negative meaning of call off.
  • Interactive-image mnemonics: a combination of a mnemonic device referring to a L1 word and an image associated with the new word. For example, when learning isu in Japanese, an English-speaker could think of the word easy in English which sounds similar. They then use imagery and come up with the sentence, “It is easy to sit in a chair.”

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