Teaching Vocabulary
Lessons from the Corpus
Lessons for the Classroom
Jeanne McCarten

cambridge university press

Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo
Cambridge University Press
32 Avenue of the Americas, New York, ny 10013-2473, USA
© Cambridge University Press 2007
This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception
and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,
no reproduction of any part may take place without
the written permission of Cambridge University Press.
First published 2007
Printed in the United States of America

978-0-521-94325-3  paperback

Book layout services:  Page Designs International

Table of Contents


Lessons from the Corpus

How many words are there and how many do we
need to teach?  1

What can a corpus tell us about vocabulary?  2

Frequency  4

Differences in speaking and writing  4

Contexts of use  5

Collocation  5

Grammatical patterns  6

Strategic vocabulary  8

Teaching strategic vocabulary: Fundamentals for
a syllabus  14



Concluding Remarks  26



Lessons for the Classroom

What do we need to teach about vocabulary?  18

How can we help learners learn vocabulary?  19

Top 200 spoken words  27

Further reading  28

References  28


Lessons from the Corpus

How many words are there and how many do we need
to teach?
It’s almost impossible to say exactly how many words there are in English.
The Global Language Monitor, which tracks language trends, especially in the
media, has counted up to almost a million at 988,968. Webster’s Third New
International Dictionary, Unabridged, together with its 1993 Addenda Section,
includes around 470,000 entries.
Counting words is a...