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Revisiting the Lexical Approach: How to Maximise Vocabulary Learning in ELT

Embrace the Lexical Approach and unlock the full potential for vocabulary learning in your ELT (English Language Teaching) classroom.

In the ever-evolving landscape of ELT methodology, the Lexical Approach has emerged as a powerful approach that emphasises the central role of vocabulary in language acquisition.

A teacher and students
Learning patterns in language is a key

Developed by Michael Lewis, this approach challenges traditional grammar-based methods and encourages learners to engage with language as it is naturally used, focusing on the acquisition of lexical chunks and collocations.

The Lexical Approach in Action

The Lexical Approach recognises that language is not merely a collection of individual words but rather a complex system of lexical patterns and phrases. By exposing learners to these patterns and encouraging them to internalise and reproduce them, the Lexical Approach facilitates more natural and fluent communication. In short, if you maximise vocabulary learning with an attention to patterning, your learners' acquisition rises.

 

Take your teaching to the next level with Train The Teacher Ltd (2008)

As leaders in teacher training and professional development, we are dedicated to helping schools, teachers, and tutors like you develop the knowledge and skills needed to be your best.

Don't wait - contact us today at frank.doogan@traintheteacher.org or call +852 92791395 to learn how our specialised programmes can take your teaching career to new heights.

Invest in your growth and the success of your students. Reach out to Train The Teacher now.

 

Deeper Dive on How to Maximise Vocabulary Learning

The main principles of the Lexical Approach are:

1. Language consists of grammaticalised lexis, not lexicalised grammar. In other words, lexis (vocabulary) is central to creating meaning, while grammar plays a secondary role in managing meaning.

2. Fluency depends more on acquiring a large stock of prefabricated lexical chunks or collocations (word partnerships) rather than just individual words. Some examples of lexical chunks are polywords (by the way), collocations (absolutely convinced), and institutionalised utterances (I'll get it).

3. Language teaching should focus on these multi-word lexical chunks rather than just single vocabulary items. Learners need to be exposed to and taught to use these chunks as unanalysed wholes.

4. The grammar/vocabulary dichotomy is false. Language does not consist of a separate grammar and vocabulary, but rather the lexicon itself is grammaticalised.

5. Raising learners' awareness and ability to "notice" lexical chunks in input is important for acquisition. Activities that promote noticing and recording chunks aid learning.

6. Theories like Lexical Priming support the idea that words are stored and produced in predictable combinations based on previous encounters.

Give It a Go

Here are some practical ideas for implementing the Lexical Approach in your classroom:

  • Incorporate authentic materials: Use real-life texts, such as news articles, podcasts, and social media posts, to expose learners to lexical chunks in context. This aligns with contemporary ELT classroom strategies.

  • Teach vocabulary in chunks: Instead of focusing on individual words, present vocabulary in meaningful chunks or collocations, such as "make a decision" or "heavy traffic." This represents best practice in ELT teaching.

  • Encourage noticing: Train learners to identify and record lexical patterns they encounter, fostering awareness and retention.This is effective for ELT classroom engagement.

  • Promote fluency activities: Engage learners in communicative tasks that require them to use lexical chunks in meaningful contexts, such as role-plays or discussions.


Discover more

  • Discover The Lexical Approach To Language Teaching By Michael Lewis

  • Implementing the Lexical Approach: Putting Theory into Practice

[PDF] The lexical approach: collocability, fluency and implications for ...

  • The Lexical Approach - A Beginners' Guide - EFL Magazine

  • Lexical Approach 2 - What does the lexical approach look like


 

Take your teaching to the next level with Train The Teacher Ltd (2008)

As leaders in teacher training and professional development, we are dedicated to helping schools, teachers, and tutors like you develop the knowledge and skills needed to be your best.

Don't wait - contact us today at frank.doogan@traintheteacher.org or call +852 92791395 to learn how our specialised programmes can take your teaching career to new heights.

Invest in your growth and the success of your students. Reach out to Train The Teacher now.

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