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Teaching lexis
Thread poster: sabina moscatelli

sabina moscatelli  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:41
Member (2004)
German to Italian
+ ...
Apr 8, 2005

Dear colleagues and teachers

I am still working on my final dissertation on Teaching Lexis to ESL students.

Which are yr experiences? Which are the most profitable strategies you envisage? How do you teach vocabulary and lexis? How do you expand it? How do you assess yr students?

Thanks once again for your help.

Sabina


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simon tanner  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:41
Member (2007)
Italian to English
+ ...
teaching vocabulary through reading Apr 10, 2005

sabina moscatelli wrote:

Dear colleagues and teachers

I am still working on my final dissertation on Teaching Lexis to ESL students.

Which are yr experiences? Which are the most profitable strategies you envisage? How do you teach vocabulary and lexis? How do you expand it? How do you assess yr students?

Thanks once again for your help.

Sabina


Hi Sabina,
I teach translation and interpreting at the University of Messina, and developing my students' vocabulary is an essential part of my job. I find that vocabulary is always absorbed and 'appropriated' better when it is presented in context. Apart from encouraging students to read widely, I provide them with a collection of texts grouped by theme (science, politics, international conflicts, economics and business etc), which we use for discussion/translation and interpreting exercises. Assessing exactly how much vocabulary they acquire is a different matter, and I am not even sure this is the right question to ask; I am more interested in knowing whether they are able to produce acceptable interpreting/translation results rather than knowing how many words they have memorised.
best wishes
Simon Tanner


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sabina moscatelli  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:41
Member (2004)
German to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Simon Apr 10, 2005

I may share your view on production of natural texts, but assessment is a key point in our school system. How do you assess the lexis you teach?

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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 00:41
German to English
Teaching and testing lexis Apr 10, 2005

Simon Tanner wrote:


I am more interested in knowing whether they are able to produce acceptable interpreting/translation results rather than knowing how many words they have memorised.


I like Simon's approach, and I also know what Sabina is talking about because the emphasis is on formal testing in Mexican universities too.

Here's something from "Teaching by Principles" by H. Douglas Brown that you might find useful. It's not for a formal test, but it could help prepare the students for one.

"An intrinsically motivating test involves students in cooperative group preparation. Students embrace the test as a valid a fair means of measuring their competence. It brings out their best performance, not their worst. It has authentic language and tasks. It provides optimal feedback to the students.

Description of a test:
"It is one of the most satisfying things in the world to me to see my students busy learning, interacting intensively with each other, occasionally consulting me, but taking the responsibility themselves and being energetically involved.
I wanted to give a test over the vocabulary and structures that we had covered the last few weeks. But I decided to share the task with the students and see how we might do it interactively. I asked the students in pairs to brainstorm all the things that they thought they had learned and that should be in a test. I forbade them to look into their books. It had to be from memory.
Next they had to go into groups of fours and exchange their papers and discuss whether they agreed with what the other pairs suggested be on the test. Some ideas were crossed off, some were added on, and there was a lot of negotiation going on. I collected the lists, condensed them into one list, and distributed copies to each person at the next class, instructing them to formulate the actual test questions. They each did so, and then in pairs verified that there were no mistakes in the questions, occasionally asking me as I circulated around the room.
Then I told them that in the next class a certain number of questions would be on the actual test. In the remaining quarter of an hour they were permitted to read every other student's test and to ask the author the answer if they didn't know it. Needless to say, it was an intense fifteen minutes. What is more, I learned that they had learned things that I was unaware of teaching or doing in class, and not learned things, at least in their conscious memory, that I thought I had taught.
I am convinced that the exercise of listing items to test, making the questions themselves, and then discussing them with each other initiated many more "opportunities for learning" than would have occurred if I had simply given them a test. And of course, if I had made the test alone I would have tested what I, one person alone, thought was and should have been learned."

---
This is a "touchy, feely" approach to teaching that, as an old hand, doesn't appeal to me much and I have doubts about using it for university students. But you might find some of these ideas useful and modify it for your situation.

When I first became interested in becoming a translator, I found a series of newspaper articles in the source language and in superb translations. I studied both carefully and started creating a personal glossary of the most challenging terms and the most successful solutions. Maybe you could have your students do the same thing and then use the above test preparation approach.


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