Vocabulary Acquisition Helping learners choose the best words




MellorAndrew 准教授

Acquisition of vocabulary is essential for learners of English. Successful learners need to make decisions about what vocabulary to learn, what aspects of vocabulary knowledge to master and how to study the vocabulary effectively. Vocabulary includes not only single word items but also multiword items. Learners have to decide which items to concentrate learning on. Items which occur more frequently in English may be useful but learners also need to acquire items relevant to their personal interests and circumstances. Vocabulary knowledge is multi-dimensional including elements related to form, meaning and use. This knowledge may develop through stages of receptive and productive ability. There are many strategies that can be used to learn vocabulary effectively. Points to consider may be whether to learn vocabulary in context or in isolation, whether to learn vocabulary in semantic groups, and how to reinforce learning for effective acquisition.

My vocabulary

Many learners have the experience that the words they have learned at school are not sufficient to communicate in real time in English. This may be because the learners lack the vocabulary specific to their life and experience. One challenge for learners is to plug these lexical gaps by learning vocabulary important to themselves.

Most common words

Learners have a huge number of vocabulary items to acquire. A simple approach is to learn the most frequently occurring words. The most frequent 1000 words usually account for more than 70% of the words in most texts. Learning the most frequent vocabulary may be an efficient way to improve English skill particularly in the early stages of language learning.

Learning vocabulary by semantic groups may also be beneficial. Words learned together from the same semantic field, may be
more easily retained and accessed when needed. New

Analyzing learner lexical choice

As learners expand their vocabulary, lexical choices and patterns may give clues to the fluency and quality of their English. The analysis of these choices could help in the assessment of learner output and be an indicator of learner progress.