Foreign Language Pedagogy, Spring 2004

Akemi Morioka




I. Pre-discussion questions:

Q#1: What do you have to know to be able to speak a language?
Q#2: How closely are the amount of vocabulary and communicative competency related ?
What does Terrell say in The Natural Approach about vocabulary?
             How crucial is the amount of vocabulary according to the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines?

II. You, as an instructor, must possess a clear vision as to what kind of theme/topic you want your students to become

to be able to discuss in the course you are teaching.  Then, you will know what kind of vocabulary you need to teach them.


A. Students can describe themselves and things or people that are closely related to                                  themselves.(self-introduction, family, friends, the town and county where one lives, climate, food, etc.).
                                B. Students can talk about the target culture in the target language.
                                C. Students can describe their own native culture in the target language.
D. Students can express their thoughts and opinion concerning social and political issues.

III. Introduction to Comprehension:

   What are some effective ways to introduce new vocabulary?

A.   Use visual aids, such as pictures, photos, video tapes, and actions by the instructor, etc.

B.   Introduce vocabulary according to topics.         Example topics: food, town, shopping.

C.   Introduce synonyms.  Example: tall – short, clean – dirty, etc.

D.   Introduce each word in context.

E.    Introduce the same vocabulary aurally and visually; have the students look and listen to each word.

F.    Teach the vocabulary that students want to know.

G.   (When introducing kanji-compound vocabulary in Japanese, explain the meaning of each kanji.)

IV. What is the process for mastering a word?


                Language Data ---- Input –--- Intake –--- Integration ---- Output

V. Comprehension to Production

  Have students do various activities/ tasks in order to master new vocabulary.  Do not make them memorize just by flash cards.              

  Sample Activities:

1.    Identifying:

E.g. Listen to the teacher and circle the words mentioned in the handout.

“There are various things in my room.  There is a desk by the window.  On the desk, there are a computer,

desk lamp, books and pens. There is a bed by the wall….

2.    Grouping:

E.g. Odd-man-out:  {doctor, pilot, father, waitress}.

        Grouping:  {pasta, folk, restaurant, fish, chopsticks, pizza, diner, knife, café}

3.    True or False?:

E.g. By showing pictures or realia, ask students if the statements are true.

“Is this green tea?”  “Does he look happy?”

4.    Agree or Disagree?

E.g. Ask students if they agree with a statement. 

“Is UCI a big/famous/new school?”       

5.    Scale: Mark the scale according to the degree.

E.g. “I like reading novels”     1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

        “I go to the movies”               1 (none) 2. 3. 4. 5(often)


6.    Vocabulary Tree:

E.g. Moving from a larger concept to a smaller concept.

House – room (bedroom) – furniture (chest of drawers)  - clothes – coin

7.    List Making:

E.g. Let’s make a list of thing to bring to the picnic tomorrow.

8.    Sequence:

E.g. List actions you take from the time you leave home until you get on an airplane.

9.    Information Gap: A pair of students share a pair of pictures, maps, lists of activities, etc., which contain

different gaps in information. They are supposed to fill in the information gaps without showing the pictures

etc., to each other.

E.g.1. Fill in the missing buildings on the maps.

E.g.2. Fill in the action/event in the daily schedule.

10. Comparison:

E.g. Have students compare and contrast the pictures of typical Japanese and American homes and

point out differences.

11. Interview:

E.g. “What do you think about the cafeteria of this campus?”

12. Survey:

E.g. “What do you do for exercise?”

13. Definition:

E.g. First, the teacher describes/presents the definition of a word: “What do you call the place you

suddenly get sick?”  Then, on the next day, have a student define the word: “What is an emergency room?

14. Dialogue:

E.g. Have students memorize a short dialogue that contains a word you want them to master;

  Person A: Is Edwards Theater far from here?”

  Person B: No, it is close.  It takes only 20 minutes on foot.

Steps: read – repeat – memorize (pair) work – present teacher model for changing the underlined part

– students’ pair work – presentation.

15. Roleplay, debate, etc.:

E.g. Think of a roleplay or debate in which students can use vocabulary that you want them to master. 

You should provide the students with any vocabulary that they want to use prior to the roleplay or debate

if they ask you.

16. TPR:

17. Kanji: For Kanji compounds in Japanese, remind students of the meaning of each kanji.

E.g. 進歩 What is the meaning of each kanji?

VI. Testing Vocabulary:

                A. Some of the activities listed above can be used as test questions.

                B. Dictation (partial or spot)

                C. Cloze test

VII. Vocabulary Guessing Techniques:

                What should you do when you encounter a word you don't know?