Unit 2 The Study of English
Module 3 Lexis
At the end of this module you will:-
a) have a basic understanding of the formation of words and their relationships
b) understand the importance of teaching appropriate language
c) have more understanding of the difficulties ESOL students face in their choice of vocabulary
d) have begun to think more deeply about the language you
are going to teach
Lexis refers to the vocabulary, or words of a language and is a vitally important part of learning a language. A student acquires vocabulary in two ways: the first is by discovery, through interaction/conversation or reading materials which the student has chosen for himself/herself; the second is by having words presented to him/her in the classroom in a more formal manner. The teacher has various ways of achieving this: s/he can point to objects in the classroom, draw pictures, mime an action, explain a concept in simple words, etc. We shall focus on what aspects of lexis need to be taught to students and then we shall consider when to teach words, what words to teach and how to teach them.
1. Lexical features
Parts of speech
Students need to know the facts about the formation of words and how words with the same stem form different parts of speech. For example take the word 'smile'. 'Smile' can be a verb and a noun, and the present participle 'smiling' can also be used as an adjective:
The children never smile at the teacher.
The teacher looked angry then he gave me a smile.
Happy children are always smiling.
The smiling face of the Mona Lisa looks down on the crowd.
This use of the same form of a word for both a verb (smile) and a noun (a smile) is not a feature of all languages and can be very confusing for students. Students also need to know how verbs change from the present to the past and into participles (check this word if you are not familiar...