Teaching Vocabulary at the Initial Stage of Instruction


Methods of foreign language teaching. The grammar-translation method. The direct, audio-lingual method, the silent way and the communicative approach. Teaching English to children in an EFL setting. Teaching vocabulary to children. Textbook analysis.

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Faculty of Romance and Germanic Philology

English Philology Chair


THEME: Teaching Vocabulary at the Initial Stage of Instruction

STUDENT: Gayane Manukyan

SUPERVISOR: Naira Avagyan




Chapter 1. Teaching English as a foreign language

1.1 Methods of foreign language teaching

Chapter 2. Teaching vocabulary at the initial stage of instruction

2.1 Teaching English to children in an EFL setting

2.2 Teaching vocabulary to children

2.3 Textbook analysis




This paper discusses the methods of teaching EFL and English vocabulary to children. The paper comprises two chapters and analysis of the fourth form English textbook (Apresyan, Thovmasyan). In Chapter 1 I speak about the current and traditional methods of teaching English as a foreign language and give a brief description of each method.

In the first part of Chapter 2 I speak about the objectives of teaching English to children in a non-English environment, the role of motivation and the teacher factors. The second part of Chapter 2 presents a study of methods and techniques of teaching vocabulary at the initial stage of instruction. The issues discussed here are the choice of teaching materials, ways of presenting the new vocabulary, the development and extension of children's vocabulary, games and special activities as means of vocabulary acquisition and retention.

Benjamin Franklin has emphasized the role of methods in a foreign language acquisition: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn”.

His statement is particularly true in case of children as it is enjoyable participation in the language learning process and motivation that children need first of all. Motivation, curiosity, and holistic attitude to learning new things make language learning both easy and interesting for children. The importance of the initial stage of instruction lies in creating a positive attitude towards the language learning process.

"Children can learn almost anything if they are dancing, tasting, touching, seeing, and feeling information" (Dryden & Vos, 1997).

There are a great many of methods, techniques and approaches of teaching a foreign language, and more will be created to meet the demands of the globalized world where the importance of English cannot be underestimated. We should understand that any method is as good as its implementation, and the best language teacher is the one who gets good results no matter what methods he uses. “No course book will be totally suited to a particular teaching situation. The teacher will have to find his own way of using it and adapting it if necessary” (Jiazhi Wang). The third part of Chapter 2 is the critical evaluation of an EFL textbook. After the evaluation of its design and content I have analysed how the textbook fosters the development of the four skills respectively: writing, speaking, reading, and listening.

Chapter 1. Teaching English as a Foreign Language

1.1 Methods of Foreign Language Teaching

There are eight language teaching methods in practice today:

1. The Grammar -Translation Method

2. The Direct Method

3. The Audio-Lingual Method

4. The Silent Way

5. Suggestopedia

6. Community Language Learning

7. Total Physical Response Method

8. The Communicative Approach

1. The Grammar-Translation Method

Around the turn-of-the-19th-century, language students often translated volumes from Classical Greek or Latin into English via this method. It consists mainly of exhaustive use of dictionaries, explanations of grammatical rules (in English), some sample sentences, and exercise drills to practice the new structures.

Students are given target language reading passages and answer questions that follow. Other activities include translating literary passages from one language into the other, memorizing grammar rules, and memorizing native-language equivalents of target language vocabulary. Vocabulary and grammar are emphasized; pronunciation and other speaking/listening skills are not. Grammar is learned deductively on the basis of grammar rules and examples. Literary language is regarded as superior to spoken language.

Class work is highly structured, with the teacher controlling all activities. The teacher supplies correct answers when students cannot.

2. The Direct Method

The characteristic features of this method are the practical direction in the teaching of foreign language, the ignoring of the existence of the mother tongue, use of visual aids and various exercises both written and oral. The method is called direct because it aims to establish a direct connection between the words in the foreign language and their denotations. The grammatical rules are discovered through many examples. Students speak a great deal in the target language and communicate if in real situations. Speaking and listening skills and correct pronunciation are emphasized. Teacher/student interaction is fuller; it includes guessing of context or content, completing fill-ins, question-and-answer exercises.

3. The Audio-Lingual Method

The audio-lingual method developed with the advent of audio tapes. This method is based on the belief that language learning is the acquisition of correct language habits. The language learner actually hears and mimics native speakers on audio tapes, often used with earphones in a language lab setting. Lessons begin with a sample dialogue to be recited and memorized. This is followed up with substitution pattern and saturation drills in which the grammatical structure previously introduced is reinforced. The teacher directs and controls students' behavior, provides a model and reinforces correct responses.

4. The Silent Way

The teacher remains silent while pupils output the target language through perpetual prompting. A color-coded sound chart called a fidel, with both vowel and consonant clusters on it, is projected onto a screen to be used simultaneously with a pointer, thus permitting the pupil to produce orally on a continuous basis in the target language. Brightly colored Cuisenaire rods are integrated into this method for pupils to learn spatial relationships, prepositions, colors, gender and number concepts, and to create multiple artificial settings through their physical placement. The greatest strength of this method lies in its ability to draw students out orally, while the teacher "takes a back seat". This method works most effectively with round tables being used to promote small group discussion. All four skills are worked on from the beginning.

5. Suggestopedia

Classes are small and intensive, with a low-stress focus. Material is presented in an especially melodic and artistic way. By activating the right "creative side" of the brain, a much larger portion of the intellectual potential can be tapped, thus drawing out long-term memory. Background classical or baroque chamber music, oftentimes accompanied with soft lights, cushions on the floor for relaxation, yoga, songs and games, question-and-answer sessions are used to make language learning less anxiety provoking. Students focus on communicative use rather than form, little emphasis on grammar is given.

6. Community Language Learning or Counseling Learning

This method is designed to ease the learner into gradual independence and self-confidence in the target language. Learning a language is not viewed necessarily as an individual accomplishment, but rather as a collective experience. Small or large groups are formed to create a language learning community. Student is at first a dependent client of the counselor and becomes increasingly independent through five specified stages. Understanding and speaking are emphasized, though reading and writing have a place. The basic premise of the method can be found in the acronym SARD: S- security (to foster the student's self-confidence), A-attention or aggression (students have opportunities to assert, involve themselves), R-retention and reflection (students think about both the language and their experience learning it), and D-discrimination (sorting out differences among target language forms).

7. Total Physical Response Method

In this method, both language and body movement are synchronized through action responses and use of the imperative (direct...