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  1. #1
    Brownie1 is offline Newbie
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    Default Teaching vocabulary in relationship to a reading.

    Hi there,

    I am a new teacher who after having finished CELTA has started her first job. My students need to improve their reading and vocabulary and so I'm trying to think of ways to have a reading lesson link up with a vocabulary lesson. The reading materials that I have been given from the company are in all honesty quite terrible, and so I think that I would like to find something authentic and something that the students would actually enjoy.

    My problem, however, is this: During my CELTA training, the procedure would be to choose a text that was appropriate for the students, get them to notice elements of the target language, and then move on to either a grammar lesson, vocab. or functions lesson that dealt with this target language. During CELTA, when it came to vocabulary we either could choose things from a course book which had readings with the target language already embedded, or we could choose our own and find/create the appropriate material.

    I am now in a situation where in this unit I have certain vocabulary items that I must teach. The readings that I have been given do not, however, reflect the vocabulary that the students must learn.

    Should I just create my own readings or should I just provide my students with a reading that shares the same context as the target language while not actually containing it? If so, what would be a good thing to link those two activities? Or, should I just not try and link these two activities and instead treat them as two entirely different lessons? Your suggestions would be welcome :)

  2. #2
    Pangus is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Teaching vocabulary in relationship to a reading.

    If you are going to use the provided readings, in order to link the them, would you be able to get the students to find synonyms of the target vocabulary in the reading, or to rewrite parts of the reading using the target vocabulary. They could maybe then discuss the reading using the vocabulary. In my experience, in a discussion, this is very difficult to get them to do but they must use the vocabulary in order to retain it. In my course we had 2 assessed discussions ( case studies ) during the course. The students were told they had to use so many words from the target vocabulary to pass and this was effective in getting them to use it. Of course, I've no idea if they retained it for future courses but I would think it improved the chances.

    If you are going to create your own readings, that's wonderful ( as long as they're not too difficult for the level ) but you have to consider how long it's going to take. You can't do this for every class but if you're going to teach the same course again, it becomes more feasible. If I recall, the CELTA was about 5 hours of preparation to teach 40 minutes. In the real world world, of course this isn't possible, although you should expect to spend a lot longer preparing when you begin. Adults really do appreciate more authentic material - if it's relevant to their jobs/lives/city, even better.

  3. #3
    Brownie1 is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Teaching vocabulary in relationship to a reading.

    Thanks for your reply and all of your suggestions! I agree that though creating readings are fun, they are terribly time consuming and in this particular situation I doubt I will be using them again. I think that your first method could work. Just to check that I have understood it, your process would be to go through the reading, ask the students to notice words that are similar/synonymic to the target vocabulary and then we move onto another lesson that deals with the actual target vocabulary? The added complication to this situation is that the director has specified that she wants no writing exercises in this course. The emphasis is on students reading and speaking. If they could write, that would be a great exercise to help them practice the target vocabulary in the context of the reading.

    Since the students will be assessed on the vocabulary as well, I think that the method for the assessed discussions may be a great way to encourage the students to become exposed to the vocabulary more.

    If I had had more freedom in this course, I would have chosen reading topics and vocabulary more relevant to their lives. I also think it's easier for the teacher and students if the teacher provides them with readings that have the embedded vocabulary that you are going to teach. What do you think?

  4. #4
    Pangus is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Teaching vocabulary in relationship to a reading.

    That was the idea, though I don't know whether there are synonyms in the text so that would depend. If there's no direct synonyms, perhaps you can write one-line summaries of the paragraphs in the readings using the target vocabulary. They may then have to match the summaries to the paragraphs. They could maybe then summarize/discuss/criticize the text using as much of the target vocabulary as possible. As I said before it can be difficult. It isn't as simple as saying 'speak' and 'use the vocabulary'. You could offer points for using the vocabulary in a discussion. You could start each class by handing each student cards with each bit of vocabulary and throughout the class they have to get rid of the card by using it. I perhaps should have mentioned I wouldn't do any of this before pre-teaching the vocabulary. Probably you have various exercises given to you by the school for that.

    I taught for 2 years in quite a similar situation, where use of the target vocabulary was assessed but was hardly used in the texts or videos used by the course book. I found that you have to link the vocabulary into everything you can and continue drawing the students attention to it. If you hear a student saying something that they could've said with the target vocabulary but didn't, perhaps elicit from the class how else they could have said it; get students to make up their own sentences using the target vocabulary for homework, anything you can think of. The course I was teaching, 'Market Leader', eventually came with a vocab training website where students would do flashcard-style vocab training exercises and you could monitor their progress online. I'm sure there's a lot of flashcard websites about where you could set up something like that for them. I personally feel there's nothing like a little test to motivate students to actually learn the vocab ( yes they still need to practise it in a conversation if they're going to retain it long-term but it's a start ) but some people would disagree with me on that, as did the university.

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Teaching vocabulary in relationship to a reading.

    Are these vocabulary items going to be tested?

  6. #6
    Brownie1 is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Teaching vocabulary in relationship to a reading.

    Yes they are. I have been given 21 items, but after a lengthy discussion with the director I have been able to narrow it down to 12.

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