Chapter 2

Learning and Teaching Materials for Vocabulary Learning and Teaching


The materials in this resource package are mainly adapted from the learning and teaching materials developed in the ‘Seed’ Project on ‘The Magic of Words: Enhancing Effectiveness of English Vocabulary Learning and Teaching at Primary Level’. The ‘Seed’ Project was conducted in the school years 2006-07 and 2007-08 with the following objectives:


i. to enhance teachers’ knowledge and skills in planning for effective learning and teaching of vocabulary;
ii. to explore strategies to promote the development of vocabulary building skills;
iii. to develop appropriate learning and teaching materials to improve the quality of vocabulary learning and teaching;
iv. to encourage pupils’ application of vocabulary knowledge for communication; and
v. to enhance the competence and confidence of pupils and teachers in vocabulary learning and teaching.


Throughout the 2-year tryout period, the project teachers were equipped with various vocabulary teaching strategies to develop pupils’ vocabulary building skills. Pupils were given ample opportunities to apply these skills for purposeful communication in meaningful contexts. With an aim to arouse pupils’ interests in vocabulary learning, vocabulary-focused games and activities were also well-integrated into the English Language curriculum.


The project teachers participated actively in the development and implementation of plans focusing on the learning and teaching of vocabulary. In the initial planning stage, target vocabulary items were carefully identified, taking into consideration the words introduced in the textbooks as well as pupils’ prior knowledge, interests and needs. During the word selection process, teachers also made reference to the words in the relevant categories of the Wordlists with an aim to enrich pupils’ vocabulary bank.


After the word selection stage, learning and teaching materials for the relevant units were designed based on the following theoretical underpinnings which have been discussed in Chapter 1:


i. cognitive elaboration of the form-meaning relationship
ii. creating associations – paradigmatic and syntagmatic approaches
iii. providing pupils with multiple exposures to new words


In order to help pupils acquire both formal and semantic control of the vocabulary items, a range of vocabulary-learning activities were included in Chapter 2 to address all dimensions of word knowledge. Pupils were guided to create paradigmatic and syntagmatic associations to help them anchor the newly-acquired words in their mental lexicon. Word formation methods such as compoundingcompounding – the formation of words with two or more separate words which can stand independently on other circumstances, e.g. foot + ball = football, derivationderivation – the formation of a word from another word or a base word, e.g. excite exciting, conversionconversion – the process by which the same word can be used in different parts of speech, e.g. cook (verb, noun) and affixationaffixation – the process of adding prefixes and suffixes to the base word and modifying the meaning and / or part of speech, e.g. happy unhappy, help helpful were also taught to help pupils guess meanings of unfamiliar words, build a linkage among different words and extend their vocabulary knowledge. Through providing repeated exposure to the words in various contexts, pupils learnt how the words are used. They were also provided with opportunities to use the newly-learnt vocabulary to express their own ideas and feelings in meaningful learning activities.


To provide pupils with multiple encounters of the target vocabulary and the opportunities to experience English learning as a source of pleasure and enjoyment, a variety of vocabulary learning activities and games were incorporated in the tryout lessons. Teachers may refer to Chapter 3 for suggestions on games and activities under various themes.


Throughout the tryout period, a conscientious effort was made to expose pupils to a language-rich environment. New vocabulary items were displayed on the learning walls in the classrooms and pupils were encouraged to refer to them during the learning process. A reading corner was set up to promote a reading to learn culture and self-learning. A variety of theme-based books related to the tryout modules were displayed for pupils to borrow or read during recess or lunch time. Help from the school librarians was also sought to borrow more books from the public library for display in the reading corner.


To help pupils organise the vocabulary they have learnt, teachers demonstrated the use of different graphic organisers, such as spider webs and tree diagrams. Pupils were encouraged to enter the new vocabulary learnt both inside and outside the classroom into their word banks or vocabulary cards using the paradigmatic and syntagmatic approaches. Pupils were invited to share with the class the words they had got from time to time. Positive feedback was given to pupils who added new entries on their own initiative. During the learning process, pupils were also encouraged to refer to their word banks to help them complete the learning tasks. The tryout experience showed that active use of word banks was an effective way to help pupils gather new words at their own pace for their own reference as well as retrieve or recall the words they need in writing. By managing their personal word banks, pupils learnt to acquire self-management skills as well as study skills. They were thus able to develop good learning habits for lifelong learning.





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