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Area or Aspect of Choice and its Applicable Educational Theory

Vocabulary teaching has the goal of supporting language use across the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Vocabulary required for listening and speaking tends to be smaller than the vocabulary needed for reading and writing. Tomlinson (2003) noted that from a vocabulary perspective, extensive reading can be a way to learn new vocabulary through meaning focused input, and to establish, enrich and develop fluency with known vocabulary. Vocabulary learning can be made more deliberate and thus more likely to occur if the focus of the activity is on a particular word. Using both indirect and direct teaching methods to develop students’ oral and reading vocabulary skills should be a part of a balanced reading program (Pohl, 2009). Vocabulary teaching is important is because for second or foreign language learners, the deliberate study of vocabulary can account for a large proportion of vocabulary learning. A deficit in vocabulary knowledge causes comprehension problems. 

The applicable educational theory used in vocabulary teaching is lexical field theory. Jackson & Amvela (2000) define lexical field as a named area of meaning in which lexemes interrelate and define each other in specific ways. For example the lexical field of kinship terms includes the lexemes: father, mother, son, daughter, cousin, uncle and aunt among others. Lexical filed theory was first put forward by a number a number of German and Swiss scholars in the 1920s and 1930s. Lexical theory has been used to account for the general organization of the English vocabulary. The lexical field theory is significant in vocabulary teaching because whether learners meet meaning related words one by one in the course of their experience of the language, or whether they are presented with a set as a whole, they need to develop an awareness of which features of the basic concept are emphasized in a particular word (Grauberg, 1997).  

According to lexical field theory, the vocabulary of language is essentially a dynamic and well integrated system of lexemes structured by relationships of meaning (Jackson & Amvela, 2000). The theory explains that the system is changing continuously by the interaction of various forces such as the disappearance of previously existing lexemes or the broadening or narrowing of the meaning of some lexemes (Jackson & Amvela, 2000). Lexical field theory starts from the premise that the vocabulary of a language consists not of a long random list of words, but rather of many interrelated networks between words (Grauberg, 1997). For example lexical field in English for seeing includes: see, perceive, discern, notice, observe, catch sight of and spot. In addition the theory stipulates that see is also a member of another field to do with understanding and including see4, understand, follow, realize and catch on. It is in this sense that the vocabulary of a language can be seen as a set of interrelating networks. 

One of the early theorists, Jost Trier says that fields are living realities intermediate between individual words and the totality of the vocabulary. As a result Jackson & Amvela (2000) noted that as parts of a whole, they share with words the property of being integrated in a large structure and with the vocabulary the property of being structured in terms of smaller units. Central to lexical field theory is the relationship between each individual world within a semantic set. The most common ones are synonymy and antonym. From excellent, intermediate and advanced students one can expect three aspects of lexical theory knowledge. The first involves knowledge of vocabulary discourse markers, the ability to refer backward or forward and to establish different kinds of logical relations between vocabularies, of cause and effect, concession and opposition.  

The Discussion of At Least Three Secondary Sources Dealing Vocabulary Teaching

Smith (2004) in his book titled “Reading first activities: Grade 1” asserted that students learn new vocabulary words either directly or indirectly. The book further articulates that there are five ways of teaching vocabulary which include the use of a rich vocabulary, read-aloud, realia, picture or word dictionary and quarter a word. Smith asserts that teachers can do a lot to improve student vocabulary by being conscious of using a rich vocabulary throughout the day and the year. Smith (2004) explains that it is important to note that reading books aloud is an important way to develop vocabulary. The book emphasizes that by hearing books read out loud, students are provided with examples of rich vocabulary used in a variety of sentences and contexts. The book notes that Realia approach revolves around the notion that by seeing and touching an object, students are more likely to remember both the vocabulary word as well as other information about the object (Smith, 2004).According to this book, it is important to note that most of the vocabulary students acquire is learned indirectly. 

Pohl (2009) in his book “The Teaching of Vocabulary in the Primary School Foreign Language Classroom” agrees with Lynn Smith’s view that by encouraging autonomous comprehension and providing both direct and indirect teaching in vocabulary, students can be helped to develop the vocabulary awareness they will require for effectual understanding. He further asserts Smith’s sentiments that students appreciate new language words from the situation the first time they read them as long as the general idea of the stuff being studied is both interesting and logical (Pohl, 2009).  Pohl also affirms that when reading contents that are not interesting or comprehensible, teachers should build context by activating student’s prior knowledge of the topic. Vocabulary expert Isabel Beck of the University of Pittsburgh embraces both direct and indirect approaches of vocabulary teaching (Pohl, 2009). 

Manzo & Anthony (1993) in their book “Literary Disorders: Holistic Diagnosis and Remediation” proposed other approaches to vocabulary teaching which include concept-based and subject approach. The concept-based approach unlike direct and indirect approaches has much in common with Gray’s paradigm for teaching phonics, or words elements. Compared to other approaches proposed by Smith (2004) and Pohl (2009) the concept based approach covers most possible areas in which students grasp a word meaning. The subjective approach to teaching vocabulary builds on student’s personal views and associations with word. Manzo & Anthony (1993) noted that this method imparts a self-instructional strategy because students learn how to use their own prior knowledge and experiences to build their vocabulary knowledge. However, Cohen & Cowen (2007) emphasize that the most important way students learn vocabulary is incidentally through the context of recreational reading. In their book “Literacy for children in an information age” Cohen & Cowen (2007) assert that it is important to engage students in plenty of reading, particularly within their comfort zone independent level.

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