It is known, that at present teaching and learning English is becoming important in our country. Learning foreign language demands hard work on vocabulary. Vocabulary is usually defined as words we teach in the foreign language. However, a new item of vocabulary may be more than a single word, such as a compound word or a phraseologycal unit. The vocabulary therefore must be carefully selected in accordance with the principles of selecting linguistic material, conditions of teaching and learning a foreign language.
Scientific principles of selecting vocabulary have been worked out. The words selected should be:
- Frequently used in the language (the frequency of the word may be determined mathematically by means of statistic data);
- Easily combined (nice room, nice girl, nice weather);
- Unlimited from the point of view of style (oral, written);
- Included in the topics the syllabus sets;
- Valuable from the point of view of word-building (use, used, useful, useless, usefully, user, usage).
There are two stages in teaching vocabulary: presentation or explanation, retention or consolidation which are based on certain psycholinguistic factors.
Different ways and techniques of teaching vocabulary such as brainstorming, drills, matching, filling in the gaps, puzzles, total physical response and many other methods and activities are helpful in teaching the semantic field of words.
One of the easiest and most effective ways of teaching vocabulary belonging to the semantic field of words denoting animals is using visual aids, namely pictures of animals. A teacher can demonstrate a picture of animals or use matching exercises. For example, he writes the word “rabbit” and shows its picture where learners remember it visually, or writes the names of several animals (for instance, a dog, a cat, a fox, a bear, etc) and puts their pictures on the opposite column asking to match the words and pictures.
Vocabulary presentation of animals can also be performed by brainstorming where a teacher names a certain animal, let us say a fox and each student tells a word, phrase or a word combination related to the given animal (such as cunning, sly, beautiful, a long tail). By doing this activity a teacher can attract students’ attention to the lesson and warm them up. This exercise may either be done orally or in written form where the teacher writes the word in the centre of the board and asks learners to brainstorm.
The next stage of presenting vocabulary may deal with the definition of the given word as matching exercises where a teacher prepares certain words and their definitions from monolingual dictionaries of English and dividing the chosen words and their definitions into two separate columns. For example:
a) a wolf –
b) a squirrel –
c) a lion –
1. a large tawny-coloured cat that lives in prides, found in Africa and NW India. The male has a flowing shaggy mane and takes little part in hunting, which is done cooperatively by the females;
2. a wild carnivorous mammal which is the largest member of the dog family, living and hunting in packs. It is native to both Eurasia and North America, but is much persecuted and has been widely exterminated;
3. an agile tree-dwelling rodent with a bushy tail, typically feeding on nuts and seeds.
While doing this exercise a teacher may ask learners to write certain parts of speech such as verbs, adjectives, adverbs, nouns connected to the given word or to make up a sentence which will be very effective in improving and consolidation of learned word or words.
After the presentation of the vocabulary related to a group of words denoting animals another method of teaching –discussion (which involves the exchange of ideas between students on the given topic) can be used. Discussion is an effective teaching technique which supplies sharing information among students. If different types of animals and their role in our life are taken as the topic of the lesson the debate which is one of the sources of improving public speaking can be very effective. For instance, different types of animals such as domestic and wild animals, and their role in our life. Here a group is divided into two subgroups and each part should argue the advantages and disadvantages of these animals.Filling in the gaps, true/false and using multiple choice tests are usually used to consolidate the teaching material. In this method a teacher gives a sentence, a phraseological unit or a text where the names of animals are omitted. For example:... lives in the north. (a polar bear).
This kind of sentences can be used in True/ False exercises:
1) The camel lives in Russia. (T/F)
2) The lion has a reputation of a man-eater. (T/F)
Using different types of multiple choice tests can also be very efficient in teaching vocabulary in order to consolidate the learned material. For example:
Test 1:What animal cannot change his spots?
a) The tiger b) The crocodile c) The leopard d) The lion
Test 2: Money makes........ go.
a) The mare b) The horse c) The leopard d) The lion
According learning styles of students there should be different methodical approaches in teaching vocabulary. For an audio learner it is always useful to use audio lingual method in which the script read by native speaker, or video materials concerned with the use of certain topics about the animals (for instance, a film or a program from the National Geographic Channel).
It is helpful to apply the use of total physical response for kinaesthetic learners, such as demonstration, acting, miming where a teacher acts as a kind of animal does and ask learners what animal he/she performed. It can be given detailed description of the word, such as animal’s appearance, qualities, colour, etc, where learners are supposed to guess what animal is described.
The use of synonyms (i.e. the words with similar meaning) and antonyms (the words with opposite meaning) can also be very useful in teaching vocabulary. For example, the word rabbit which may have its synonym hare. Moreover, here a teacher may use different names of the same animal as being masculine, feminine or young forms. For example, the lion, lioness, Leo. (a cow, an ox, a bull, a calf).
Another way of teaching the vocabulary concerned with the semantic field of words denoting “animals” in English is called translation method (or grammatical translation method) where a teacher asks learners to translate the authentic material from the target language in to native language (if a teacher conducts a group of Russian-speaking learners or whose mother tongue is Uzbek he/she asks his/her pupils to translate into Russian in former and into Uzbek in the latter). This method of teaching is very useful as the learners learn the English language through their own native language in which they are used to thinking.
The method of making up a story is always interesting for all types of learners. It should be based on what they learned during the lesson. For instance, a teacher may read a story about the dog which lost its bone in the mouth seeing its reflection on the water. The learners are supposed to another story with another character which can be an animal. This method is very helpful in increasing critical thinking and improving writing skills as well.
Role play can also be an effective method where a learner should stage a story of a tale about animals, where each participant performs the role of certain animal and tries to show its character by describing and performing it on a stage.
The activity classification can also be used in teaching vocabulary by presenting a table to divide the words denoting animal into certain such as domestic and wild animals.
The most important points of teaching technical vocabulary should be included to the syllabus for the students which may have a) the topics such as names animals in English and b) tasks such as expressing character, description, their way of life, etc.
Thus, summarizing all above mentioned it is possible to draw a conclusion that using different modern pedagogical methods in teaching vocabulary, specifically, the vocabulary related to the semantic field of words denoting “animals” in English plays an essential role in the improvement of efficiency in practical English lessons.
- Ахмедова Л. Т. Нормуратова В. И., Практикум по методики преподавания английского языка, Т., 2011, p. 60
- Leontiev A. A. Thinking in foreign languages is psychology and methodological problem, M., 1990