Loading...
Menu

Vocab-Backup Strategy: 5 sequential self-learning steps to boost your vocabulary

p={color:#000;}.

Vocab-Backup Strategy

5 Sequential Self-Learning Steps to Boost Your Vocabulary Knowledge

Adel M. Alharbi

Copyright © 2017 Adel M. Alharbi

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law.

www.adlism.com

To my mom (Fatimah) and Dad (Marzouq)

[who taught me my life’s first vocabulary.
__]

TABLE OF CONTENTS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

PREFACE

Purpose

Audience

About This Book

INTRODUCTION

How and Why Did This Strategy Come About?

Why Learning Vocabulary is Important

My Vocabulary Story

Introducing the Vocab-Backup Strategy – VBS

CHAPTER I

LEARNERSWAY TO LEARN

Step #1: Synonyms First!

Synonym Strategies Process

Semantic Map Example

CHAPTER II

LEARNERSWAY TO LEARN

Step #2: Meaning with Context

Meaning with Context

CHAPTER III

LEARNERSWAY TO LEARN

Step #3: Pronunciation Practice Process

Pronunciation Practice Process

CHAPTER IV

LEARNERSWAY TO LEARN

Step #4: Bookmark Your Vocabulary Search

Bookmark Your Vocabulary Search

CHAPTER V

LEARNERSWAY TO LEARN

Step #5: Remembering Strategy for Writing

Remembering Strategy for Writing

CONCLUSION

VOCAB-BACKUP 5 STEPS STRATEGY

ACTIVITIES TO USE VBS

BIBLIOGRAPHY

APPENDIX

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

First and foremost, my absolute thanks are to God [Allah, The Creator] who made our knowledge in words to be seen, developed our language to be spoken in infinite tongues and meanings, and guided our actions to the right path.

I would like to give my thanks too to all my professors and students who supported me in writing this book and who showed their motivation toward my book topic. Also, I should give a special thanks to my book editor, Dr. Steven Miller, who made this book look better.

This book’s initial spark came from the immense support and guidance of Dr. Mahmoud Amer, who pushed me to continue investigating this topic. I am especially thankful to the Self-Publishing School for supporting me to walk me through how to publish. I have built more confidence after I joined their program. The pro. class level allowed me to master all the requirements to make my book publishing dream happen. Additional appreciation goes to Dr. Teresa Dalle (my PhD supervisor) for her great assistance and support in guiding my research.

Finally, I must thank Dr. Rebecca Oxford for her endless endeavors to encourage the flourishing of the field of vocabulary learning strategies and language learning strategies. She inspires and motivates us to think strategically in our language learning and to activate the power of self-regulation in the field of Applied Linguistics.

Lastly, my endless gratitude and thanks to my family Samar and Rayan who supported me the whole journey to publish this book. Thank you so much for giving me time and courage to make my book publishing happened on time.

PREFACE

[][] Purpose

Vocab-Backup Strategy: 5 sequential self-learning steps to boost your vocabulary knowledge aims to help language learners integrate the best strategies in acquiring new words. The core stimulus of this project came after years of teaching ESL students and noticing that students’ language proficiency in most classes (English, history, grammar, reading, and other writing-intensive subjects) were insufficient, despite their academic achievements. In other words, it is neither their lack of learning motivation nor different styles of communication that lowers their language proficiency, but rather a lack of building a sufficiently sized new vocabulary to use the language. Years of research in language learning has shown that most language learners prefer to use a strategy that they can depend on, and most start with vocabulary learning strategy during the process of learning. For this basic reason, I am offering this book for students to succeed in their academic journey and fulfil their course requirements to achieve higher vocabulary knowledge. Frequently, teachers’ frustration about students’ progress was mostly recognized as due to a failure of vocabulary building. This motivated me to contemplate this topic and offer a workable method to learners and teachers as well. Another purpose of this book is to evoke the use of vocabulary learning strategies in the mind of language learners.

I should tell you here that this book is supplementary data for my published paper, “Building Vocabulary for Language Learning: Approach for ESL Learners to Study New Vocabulary” (Alharbi, 2015). This book reveals the full details of the five steps of vocabulary learning strategies called Vocab-Backup Strategy (VBS) to assist English Language Learners (however, it applies to first language users as well). It encourages language learners to be exposed to and to acquire sufficient vocabulary information in a sequence of words’ search that will allow them to maintain their vocabulary knowledge easily. In the previous study, there were five strategies: continuum-building synonyms networking, learning definition(s) with contexts, listening and pronunciation process, remembering strategy for writing, and bookmarked word search, as the measurement of the vocabulary learning habits by L2 learners and native speakers as well. In this presentation, there will be a detailed analysis of the VBS and extra discussions about each strategy explicitly. It is to be assumed that this research will help and enrich ESL teachers’ and students’ perception of vocabulary learning strategy for better language development. Also, it will add extra knowledge of vocabulary learning by examining each sub-category of this approach from the Second Language Acquisition perspective.

[][] Audience

I am putting in your hand my passionate project that I have built from nothing. Since I first thought of writing this book, my goal has been to assist teachers and language learners of any language, because what I have gone through during my language learning has proven that the vocabulary learning strategy works better to develop your language, which is necessary for becoming successful in your academic life.

However, and for sure, this work also should empower teachers, educators, English as a second language learners, and curriculum designers. Teaching and learning strategies are the core factors in this book, but more significantly, they are your tool for better learning and for enriching your mind at every moment.

In this project, I prioritize successful practice of language learning. For over eight years I taught language learners, and I decided to create this work to integrate both my learning and teaching practices that converged together from various education experiences. So, I pledge to offer this book as a tool and guide for my students and colleagues to achieve remarkable learning and teaching outcomes.

This book introduces a first-hand work of vocabulary strategy named Vocab-Backup Strategy, or VBS. A word on how this book works: you may realize that each set of vocabulary strategies I will introduce is mingled into one group but consistently intact. In other words, they are ordered from 1 to 5 with some extra explanation for each strategy. This means you need to consider all sub-strategies in relation to the main steps. Do not worry, however! I will get into these details later, and by then you will discover the big picture of how the Strategy works as you finish reading this book.

[][] About This Book

A good strategy must lead your way and light your path. Vocab-backup strategy is a step-by-step guide, but it is also a strategy to help you boost your vocabulary knowledge. I have tested it, published it, and I now want you to benefit from it. Vocabulary learning is a tough and challenging process, and language speakers and learners need strategies to help them expand their comprehension of language. I have put over eight years of experiences into thinking, analyzing, designing, collecting and developing a highly effective vocabulary learning strategy, which I am now delighted to share with you. Vocab-Backup Strategy, or VBS, is a tool that will assist you as you infuse your mind with vocabulary, taking ideas from vague global concepts to specific local ones. This tool will enrich both your previous and new vocabulary knowledge, helping you expand your vocabulary and establish extra connections within the language areas of your mind. The VBS works sequentially, which means that you have to complete step number 1 before you move on to step number 2. This process lets your brain work from unknown and easy access words to more detailed understanding of the new vocabulary. A good quick skill to have is to write down each of the five steps on a separate notecard and practice applying each step in turn while encountering new vocabulary.

This book was sparked by my students’ determination as they struggled to manage their language learning and showed that they wanted to succeed in their academic life. If you spend a lot of time reading your textbooks or struggling to establish a good writing style, or feel incompetent to speak using proper language, then Vocab-backup Strategy: 5 Sequential Self-learning Steps to Boost your Vocabulary Knowledge will enrich your vocabulary knowledge, prepare you to undertake new tasks, and boost your language cognitively, socially, and linguistically.

Adel M. Alharbi
1/12/2017

INTRODUCTION

“[[I must build a library (of mine) to learn knowledge,
but (first) I must build words to learn a language.’’]]

“[[It is unfair to think that vocabulary is one word.
It is the whole language that makes our minds work.”]]

Adel M. Alharbi, 2014

. . . by words, the mind is excited and the spirit elated.”

The Athenian playwright Aristophanes (c. 450-385 BC)

The first time I thought of writing about vocabulary, I imagined how a language could work without vocabulary, or what if language users had only a very limited vocabulary? But also, the most crucial question is how can language learners build an infinite set of vocabulary to be a successful and competent at a certain language? While these questions and others may pop up in a new language learner’s mind, especially one who has just started to learn a language (whether their first or second), it is undoubtedly the case that learning vocabulary is a key element of skills we need for life communication. My attention and focus on this topic is specifically on one issue that I overcame during my second language learning process, in which I learned the English language, but it also showed up while I was a third language learner, of Spanish. My first empowerment flashlight for this strategy of learning vocabulary, named Vocab-Backup Strategy VBS, is my above-mentioned quotation: “I must build a library (of mine) to learn knowledge, but (first) I must build words to learn a language.” At that time, I was thinking of how best to articulate my past experiences as a language learner. Also, I wrote that quote to keep my goal and strategy alive in my mind. A simple slogan can help one to better understand what he or she is doing.

Then my language-learning story began. I had so many general questions in mind as I thought carefully about vocabulary strategy, especially how to build a new approach for better and sufficient vocabulary knowledge. You may be interested to learn this as well. Vocabulary acquisition as a field of study did not get much attention until the early 1980s. But what was popular then was like not using learning tool for the learners themselves. At that time, vocabulary learning was known “as a ‘neglected aspect’ of language learning” after Paul Meara, in 1980, characterized its negligence in second language acquisition research. Paul Meara was right! No one considered or developed ideas in this field as a learning resource and thought of how learners used their own strategies to learn a language. On one hand, research on vocabulary shows that the volume of vocabulary acquired by native English speakers is almost 1,000 words annually before college level, after which it becomes 2,000 words per year. On the other hand, for English as a Second Language learners, the vocabulary game is different than that played by those who pick up English as a native language. For these learners, the study of vocabulary acquisition for them must be doubled, especially when they intend to learn English for the academic purposes.

Most recent research and studies on teaching vocabulary have focused on the need to expose language learners to new words through oral and written resources, from several contexts within the curriculum. However, will it be enough to teach vocabulary? And if so, what is best to teach language learners? Should they first be taught them the function, meaning, form, or position of a word? In an early study on vocabulary learning in 1990, by Paul Nation, titled Teaching and Learning Vocabulary, he classifies knowledge of words under four main categories:1) Form, 2) Position, 3) Function, and 4) Meaning. You may wonder why I am telling you this! It is because I want you to build a connection and understanding of the several factors that come with vocabulary learning that might not be obvious to a language’s native speaker. This leads us to think more broadly about vocabulary itself. I am sure that this is easy to comprehend when it comes to acquiring one word, but remember, it has to be fully known in all its forms, and this information must be stored in the mind in order for it to be easily accessed at any time. Nation (1990) has claimed that language learners need at least 5-16 times of exposures to master new words. Learning vocabulary is merely the application of all four language domains: receptive oral vocabulary, productive oral vocabulary, receptive written vocabulary, and productive written vocabulary. The use of a single lexical form for instance, must be established in using all four domains—a learner must listen to new vocabulary; say it in a related context; read how people put it into writing; and then finally correctly reproduce it linguistically, pragmatically, and culturally. In addition to that, to capture the global and functional meaning of vocabulary, I encourage language learners to be exposed to word knowledge explicitly. I will explain that in full detail later. For now, hold your breath!

Let me share with you my vivid memories that caused this strategy to burst out. Yes, it is a recollection of an old memory of my English classes. Over the last three years, while thinking about Vocab Backup Strategy, I have been recalling some of my early English classes at secondary school to remember what was the most effective strategy that I used. What strategies do I still use it to study new words? That question stopped me hundreds of times. I remember loving what I used in my early English notebook. My favorite skill that I had at that time was expanding my vocabulary lists. Now, here you need to know that building vocabulary is and always will be an unstoppable process; usually language learners use their own strategy to learn new words. Nevertheless, each strategy can be a true guide and tool for thousands of other language learners. So, I loved my vocabulary list so much that perhaps because I am remembering it, I am keeping the first sketches of the vocabulary lists from my early stages of language development. I should say here that these vocabulary lists helped me see and use the language faster than any other learning resources.

You probably have a lot of questions Why?! How?! What should I use for my vocabulary learning?! Well, I will share every single tip that I used in my strategy. So, hold tight and let’s start with the BIG WHY!

[][] How and Why Did This Strategy Come About?

The story of why this book came about began in the winter of 2013, when I devoted my time as a volunteer teacher to teach a group of European and Asian students at the American Language Center in northwest Philadelphia. At that time, I worked for free: I did not get a salary paycheck or even one penny from the institution. I felt this work was so important that I drove over 40 minutes (one way) to help those students for two semesters. One day, I was teaching them some reading that they needed to comprehend. It was full of new vocabulary for them and out of reality somehow. The students asked so many questions about vocabulary meaning, because they lacked sufficient vocabulary knowledge to read or to link the new text with their previous knowledge. They were looking for a single meaning for every word they read in their classes, a simple link between one word and one meaning. But that was not the real issue in their understanding difficulties, because it is one that appears to everyone. Instead, it was more than that. I realized that I wanted to help out students with these troubles, so at this point, I started to guide my thinking by putting down questions. I started with big questions. I will come to specifics of these questions soon, but for now, I first wish to discuss my vocabulary story. My experience with these students was the trigger of this strategy.

I have been thinking of these steps as a language support strategy. What I am hoping to encourage are habits, since I found that my students often struggled with vocabulary knowledge expansion during their language development. What I noticed was that after ten years of teaching ESL and EFL students, my students’ language acquisition was, in almost all classes, very limited. In other words, it was neither their lack of learning motivation nor their style of communication that lowered their language proficiency. Rather, their troubles stemmed from a lack of using their own learning strategy to learn new vocabulary. In order to understand why this is important, a fundamental perspective on how our children begin their language with one word can be a good example, which they learn at an age between 18 and 22 months old. Then, as they get older, their capacity for words will eventually expand, as they have new life situations. This is the natural process of learning language. In contrast, for ESLs, learning vocabulary usually developed gradually through various ways among which, communication, conversation and strategic learning.

The independent study of vocabulary is undeniably essential to learning a second language, when every moment of life is full of words scattering into our ears. In doing so, students must pick the right strategy to accomplish a better understanding of the new texts they read. Hence, we might ask how ESLs study vocabulary, and which strategy do they follow? Once we have learned the possible strategies they might use, we should also ask which of these strategies are most effective. The most common strategy emphasized by learners is called cognitive or mental strategy. In this strategy, learners pick up new words by understanding basic meaning, categorizing them, and putting them in groups. There are also some vocabulary learning strategies used for teaching K-12 English learners. Teachers of these grade levels have introduced several vocabularies learning strategies, such as Total Physical Response (TPR), Webtools for Learning Vocabulary, Read-Alouds, and list-group-label. These tools can be used at many levels, from beginners up to self-assessment vocabulary strategy. However, in my theoretical and practical view of learning vocabulary, I saw the need to build a special strategy to assist ESLs from an ESL learner’s perspective. My strategy would foster mindful thinking and overcome the writing tasks so common at the earliest levels of their language development. I call this strategy Vocab-Backup.”

[][] Why Learning Vocabulary is Important

If you can recapture the “powerful urge to learn” with which you were born, you can go on increasing your vocabulary at a prodigious rate—No matter what your present age.”

Norman Lewis 1978

You need to start to thinking about vocabulary as the master key for all of your knowledge. That is true because your mind treats the world around you as coded words stored and being evoked when needed. A simple example is found when you start your day and head to your work: Your mind reacts to the street’s name, directions, and the address where you work. However, vocabulary is so much more than that. Caring for vocabulary helps us to think wider and to enrich our brains with new ideas. If you care for learning new things, then vocabulary must be the first factor to guide your learning and to help you achieve your goals. Acquiring new vocabulary develops your career opportunities to a higher level. Think of all that you hadn’t learned when you first got a job or started learning some new hobby. How did these new ideas and experiences relate to the things that you already knew best? Of course they were disconnected, and perhaps they could only be found in the dark, dusty archive of your brain. No matter what you are aiming to accomplish, your new vocabulary will help you by climbing the ladder with you, up into your brain’s hidden corners, which will allow you to connect your first-language knowledge with your second language. At every level of education, vocabulary learning ties the infinite threads that you will see while reading, writing, and discussing new information. Norman Lewis said, “increasing your vocabulary does not mean merely learning the definitions of large numbers of obscured words; it does not mean memorizing scores of unrelated terms. What it means—what it can only mean—is becoming acquainted with the multitudinous and fascinating phenomena of human existence for which words are, obviously, only the verbal descriptions.”

In this section, I want to show you why vocabulary learning strategies are important. They can help you be successful in your second or even third language, but what I want to teach you will also help with your first language. It can assist those entering college, or even students preparing for a specific course or program. An average English language speaker acquires 1000 words per year, and this jumps up to 2000 words annually when entering college! Thinking strategically about words can help a student learn as many new ones as possible. However, these numbers may plunge down, fluctuate or even be doubled depending on how much a student is exposed to new information.

For several years, I have been busy exploring what I need to know to help me boost my language learning faster. And that was just as the traditional way of learning. By this, I mean that it was not fun at all to use your own style to flourish and enrich your learning capacity. The best in intellectual learning comes from making good strategies to learn new things faster and to retain them for the longer term. Every person on earth has and should develop his or her own self-learning strategy to master new knowledge. Learning in this personalized way will help more later, because you will realize that a learning strategy connects you more fully with the world around you. However, the influence and permanent effect of any strategy comes from constant and rigorous use of it over a long period of time. The growing need for language learning strategy came for one central reason which is vocabulary. This is true fundamental which vocabulary learning remain the most important aspect in learning new language.

Habits of growing a fuller vocabulary bank in second language learner’s mind begins so naturally, for example with a weekly or daily practice. For instance, I still remember that my first English notebook was full of vocabulary lists. Students are often confused about how to use the many words they learn linguistically, grammatically, and culturally in any given context. Hence, vocabulary strategies can assist with learning a new language effectively in a wide variety of learning outcomes. Always remember that a good strategy lasts longer and improves your learning goal competencies faster than a bad one, or than by approaching vocabulary with no strategy at all.

[][] My Vocabulary Story

Now let me divulge to you the real story of how I developed my strategy. At an early stage I started to think typically, which made many of my questions look obscure and ambiguous. My desire to fill my mind with a massive vocabulary pushed me past these questions. What I wanted to know was how language operates—do we store ideas as words, paragraphs, or whole essays? You may answer “yes” if you have a virtual mind, but if the answer is “no,” which a normal person might reply, then how can all these words combine? What does a word reveal in the mind of human, whether he or she is speaking a first or second language? These are some of the questions that led me to investigate how second language learners study new words, but my findings apply to first language learners just as much.

As a second language learner, I must admit that vocabulary is the most challenging aspect of language acquisition. Challenging because you need to use them appropriately and efficiently in order to express yourself in various contexts. However, this did not stop me from conquering vocabulary. My ultimate motivation was to delve into more expansion of what can we do with vocabulary. I tried to group the most efficient strategies that helped me acquire new words, and then I put them in sequence. I started with the global meaning-step of the new word (not going deep to other details of the new words), which is recognizing its synonyms. Before I share the five steps with you, let me first show you the first mind-map that I created that helped me sustain the most influential vocabulary knowledge. Each part of this map tells a story of what, where, when, and how am I put the steps of VBS together. I wanted to make it more visual so that I could more fully understand and manipulate my mind’s language space.

Figure 1. My first mind-map of the VBS.

You can navigate through how I built Vocab-Backup by starting from the upper left, where I’ve marked 5 years of teaching ESL. Then you can move or scan the other processes, progressing clockwise, until you reach the last step, which is Bookmark your Vocab. Search. In this mind-map, I recorded all my vocabulary intuitions, learning habits, and teaching experiences to build my vocabulary learning strategy. I started by creating and crafting my inspirational quote for this project, then moved on to track my own teaching experiences and the most influential questions that occupied my mind continuously. Building sub-strategies and categories came next, to help me jot down every single element I knew about acquiring vocabulary, from knowing synonyms to working with definition to understanding more formal part of speech information. In the end, I realized that it is bigger than I thought for just one single word.

VBS is a self-strategic tool for developing your learning habits to help explore vocabulary knowledge and to expand your memory to help grow more language development, which helps with thinking more broadly, too. In my earlier publication of this strategy (Alharbi, 2015), I left a space for discussion to be illustrated in-depth with extra explanation of how it works. In that study, I examined vocabulary learning strategy with five sets of strategies as follow: Building synonyms network→Learning definition(s) with contexts→Listening and pronunciation process→ Bookmark word search→ Remembering strategy for writing.

I want you to remember this sequence of steps. These five steps are built to be used sequentially, one after the other. I assume that these categories can be presented as a self-regulated habit for studying new words from an ESL perspective, but they are also workable for native speakers too. This book aims to bridge the theoretical view with the functional and practical one to serve the second language learners in particular but also assist any language learners who look for expanding their vocabulary size.

[][] Introducing the Vocab-Backup Strategy – VBS

With the basics explored, let me expand and discuss these steps one by one. Broadly speaking, there are five sets of strategies in this approach to help you expand and remember new words, which will allow higher language development. They are as follow: Building synonyms network→ Learning definition(s) with contexts→ Pronunciation practice process→ Bookmark your vocabulary search→ Remembering strategy for writing.

To understand the jeopardy and challenge of learning vocabulary, we may ask a question for those who plan to enter college or who have just begun their language learning, whatever the language may be. Why do we sometimes struggle to initiate a talk in a new topic or a new language for the first time? The question here is not to challenge you or to make you doubt your experience; instead I encourage you to think of what steps any of us takes to begin to talk or communicate. From this perspective, I am thinking of how and when does the actual process of language acquisition take place? It is indisputable that there have been many arguments, debates, and studies that have explored second language acquisition from several theoretical bases (e.g. sociocultural, psycholinguistics, vocabulary acquisition, UG framework, sociolinguistics, to name few), yet we need to locate and consider the physical place of language acquisition to its beginning. In doing so, I looked at building a vocabulary approach (a self-regulation strategy) to sustain the most significant period of language learning. After a long time teaching, I have seen that whatever we do inside the classroom cannot sustain language development. It is too abstract for an ongoing, contextualized process of language learning. The self-study approach is meant to accelerate the power of your knowledge to help you develop learning strategies that are already present in you. I believe that however we learn new things will (always) be directed by our self-regulation ability in analyzing this new knowledge. In language learning, “Self-regulation comprises such processes as setting goals for learning, attending to and concentrating on instruction, using effective strategies to organize, code, and rehearse information to be remembered, establishing a productive work environment, using resources effectively, monitoring performance, managing time effectively, seeking assistance when needed, holding positive beliefs about one’s capabilities, the value of learning, the factors influencing learning, and the anticipated outcomes of actions, and experiencing pride and satisfaction with one’s efforts.” (cited in Oxford, 2011, Dale H. Schunk and Peggy A. Ertmer, 2000, p. 631).

The following five steps, which make up my strategy, are illustrated in depth from a perspective of vocabulary learning.

Table 1. 4 Language Skills Scale (R=reading, W=writing, S=speaking, L=listening)

CHAPTER I

LEARNERSWAY TO LEARN

[][][] Step #1: Synonyms First!

Synonyms are easier to remember’’

LOOK for Synonyms First!

I always look at synonyms as the golden keys to one’s mind. What does this mean? And how does it work? I am going to show you the particulars later on, but this truth is how I approach the study of new words. Synonyms can save your mind energy, which will allow you to think faster.

Before going into details about this section, let me offer the definitions of some terms that might be related and needed at this point. Merriam-Webster defined Synonym as “a word that has the same meaning as another word in the same language”. In contrast, Antonym defined as “a word with a meaning that is opposite to the meaning of another word”. Looking at new words for the first time can leave you feeling overwhelmed; your brain has to stop and look for the closest information related to this new word that it already knows. In this search, your mind is attempting to match old with new, thereby making it easier to know the new meaning. Try this activity and look for any word that you do not know. Watch your brain and see what are you trying to remember, perhaps if you have heard these new words or seen it in a written text.

Table 2. Examples of how to apply synonyms and/or antonyms to the new word

You likely noticed that your brain’s first reaction to an unfamiliar word is to look for synonyms of that word or at least it tries to remember where you may have heard it before. If you start to look for other information beside synonyms or antonyms, you likely noticed that you lost your brain’s attention, which probably undermined your chance of knowing the term. The more usual way when people stumble with new words is to try to find its meaning, yet this process doesn’t go far for getting the word into long term memory. Remember that a proven research study by Nation, 1990’s Teaching and Learning Vocabulary, concluded that we need to encounter new words between five to more than 16 times for them to be (fully) learned or acquired. Yet, knowing a single strategy to make this happen will help new words be more easily accessed and then stored in the mind, where they can be reused proficiently. My question to you here is what is the better way for retention that you prefer to use in acquiring new vocabulary? The following subsections are my guidance to you to apply the first step.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Words are in brain. If we think about the first fundamental goal of learning a new language, we remember that the number of words in any language expands day by day. But how about our brain—where and how does language get stored in the mind? Neuroscientists have put a lot of effort into locating the part of the brain in which language can be activated, where the first image of a new word we come across is picked out. The parts of the brain that are usually responsible for language are called “Broca and Wernickes Areas” (see figure 1), which are in the Left Hemisphere of the brain. Even though Broca and Wernickes areas are responsible for different language tasks, the process of grouping words works faster than other processes, such as looking for definition(s). A new study by Sahin, et al. (2009), on the “Sequential Processing of Lexical, Grammatical, and Phonological Information Within Broca’s Area”, showed that lexical activity in Broca's area took about 200 milliseconds, compared to ~320 milliseconds for grammatical activity, and ~450 milliseconds for the phonological sort. All of this was determined by the same participants processing for “nouns and verbs” with a task called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The finding of this study expressed that linguistic forms are processed sequentially and predicted in computational grounds that have been implemented “in the brain in fine-grained spatiotemporally patterned activity” (ibid: p. 445).

Figure 2. Broca’s and Wernicke’s Areas (the source is from cognitiveaxon.blogspot.com).

 

Along with these areas, there are also huge cortex-cells in the left hemisphere of the brain; these are responsible for checking and updating the sound of each word we hear or use (Genesee, 2000). The cortex’s job is to pass and transfer any information of a word into Broca’s area to complete the global comprehension details of that word (Sahin, et al, 2009).

How much vocabulary do we tackle when we begin any kind of conversation or debate? The answer is to be found not just by knowing what is being discussed; rather, it requires being able to shift between the terms of discussion easily and to see how other elements of knowledge are at work in the conversation’s exchange. We can understand this process by seeing that it is much easier and faster for beginners to name similar words in groups to capture the visual concept of a meaning. With this, they can recall them faster when they need to use the best fit vocabulary.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Synonyms are easier to learn. Technically speaking, when it comes to looking up a new word, it is much easier to think, locate, and memorize by knowing similarities and differences of related words in the brain. The actual process is much more sophisticated than what has been said (for more details of the word process in mind, see Genesee, 2000). However, in this step, ELLs will develop a better understanding of how the language itself operates by exploring several examples of similar vocabulary. In other words, the actual brain’s function is easier to process and absorb higher images of words in groups than by looking for meanings or definitions at first glance. A good example is the word wheel strategy to learn more synonyms. Word wheel is a lookup method in which each character that is typed in moves the on-screen index to the closest match. Peregoy & Boyle (2013) have argued that using the word wheel strategy can increase students’ ability to shift between the word meanings to use it more precisely in different contexts. Hence, the better we recognize other synonyms of a word we want to use first, the better we occupy and fill the language land in the brain evenly. Later, at the time that we use these synonyms, we will be able to backup all these synonyms easily before learning other details of the word. This will in turn assist the brain in storing a space for a group of similar terms at the same time. Think of this for a moment: do we store sentences, paragraphs, or even essays in our brain? Or do we memorize or store the whole of a text we hear or the passage we read in our brain? Of course not, unless you are practicing for a movie or opera to sing or narrate your lyrics or texts. If you plan to make an action plan for your vocabulary learning, then try to answer the major three questions when setting the goals to learning vocabulary as Paul Nation suggested. Nation (2001) has proposed three fundamental pieces of information that we need to ask when we are setting long-term goals in order to know how much we need to learn vocabulary; these are (a) how many words are in the language, (b) how many words are known by native-speakers, and © how many words do we need to use the language (ibid: p. 6). In this book, I have answered the second question, however, for the other questions I encourage you to read “Learning Vocabulary in Another Language” by Paul Nation, 2001.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Synonyms mean more words. Knowing many synonyms of any word we know can help us more than knowing its independent meaning first. Some of my first students used to ask me about the meaning of new words we used in class, and then later, at another class, they would ask for the meaning of the same words, even though they knew their meanings before! Albeit, ELLs were encouraged to learn more synonyms first, but my students still insisted on first looking for definition as they continued their vocabulary acquisition. ELLs, and particularly beginners, need to be exposed to global and visual concepts of new words rather than exploring several definitions of one word. Looking only to definitions may hinder vocabulary learning for the long term. By using this step (exploring synonyms before definition), the brain reacts faster and builds the first bricks of the language. For instance, the word love, as we all know, is the most romantic and heartfelt word; however, if we break it down, we could learn more than just a word or meaning. In other words, we could sort or group similar words to love such as admire, caring, affection, warmth and so on. These are not exactly the same in connotation as that word, nor are they used in the same context, yet they share the same main theme of the vocabulary. After all, we end up building the infrastructure of a big land or space for such meaning in our brain. The following figures, which show the One Word Learning Model (OWLM), demonstrate the differences between the two strategies, (a) activating learning synonyms of the new word and (b) not activating it. Going through this step at first can accelerate learning vocabulary and set up the function of language use in advance. Look at both boxes and image you are learning one word without even attempting to make any connection with synonyms. But after you link it to similar words, your new vocabulary is going to multiply and make stronger connections within the language. Learning a new word can be much easier for our mind if we see how it resonates with synonyms.

Figure 3. One Word Learning Model OWLM.

 

 

 

Figure 3.1. One Word Learning Model OWLM.

 

[][] Synonym Strategies Process

Before ending this section, I would like to present to you my first step in an effective diagram and illustration that I designed to help you work through your synonyms word-relation. I call this step the “Process” stage, where you can open wide networks of synonyms using sub-strategies to guide you to expand your target vocabulary. The following diagram will assist you to build more similar words for every new word you encounter. At this point, after meeting a new word, I want you to pay attention to any synonyms and/or antonyms that you may know. This process will create a good foundation for your vocabulary knowledge. So, do this step FIRST whenever you come across new word. Apply the following diagram each time you encounter new vocabulary.

Figure 4. Process stage.

The following diagram illustrate the outcomes of learning a new word using the first step mentioned above.

 

Figure 5. Synonyms Outcomes.

To complete this process, I would like to invite you to add some quick information to your first step when encountering new words. These are word antonyms, part of speech, all synonyms that you already know. This strategy will help you get the global concept of the word to flesh out new information for your long-term memory. In this way, each new word will be more familiar than it was before.

[][] Semantic Map Example

The following semantic map will show you how to create your understanding for each new word you learn. Using this strategy will increase your knowledge of the language and assist you in comprehending new text and engaging your thoughts in a wider context. If you are a language teacher, college student, or K-12 teacher, I recommend that you practice this strategy in class and let students explore how they can grow their vocabulary size by networking isolated words to the older, already established ones.

Figure 6. Semantic map for the word valuable. (image source is from google).

CHAPTER II

LEARNERSWAY TO LEARN

[][][] Step #2: Meaning with Context

Context must marry meaning”

[][] Meaning with Context

It is very hard to match and comprehend the meaning of new words within their contexts unless you also define the purpose behind using these new words. Here is an example: the word “address” can carry many meanings, and understanding what it means depends on the context in which the writer and/or speaker wants to apply it. The inclusivity of such a word remains a very hard topic for language learners. Yet, you must have much separate knowledge of vocabulary to think of while hearing these new words in their different contexts. Thus, I propose a second step as a second major priority to think of when learning new words. So, let us marry these two concepts together in a practical way. A common thread connecting the meaning with the context is the form which completes the three-vocabulary knowledge fundamental components (Meaning, Context, Form). The following diagram will show the three phases of vocabulary knowledge.

Figure 7. Meaning with Context

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Meaning vs. Context

There is a huge inverse connection of both meaning and context in any new word, so many language learners stick with the meaning as their first step as they ponder new word and ignore its context. This error is very common among language learners, and the result is that they may not remember where, when, or even how they came across that new word. I have been coaching several students and most of them ask “what is the meaning of this word?” Some use a dictionary or ask other students which shows how they lack using other supplementary vocabulary learning strategies. This is a misleading step, and it gives a kind of false efficiency about the new vocabulary. The fundamental process of knowing new information is to help your mind portray an authentic context for that knowledge, so that it can have easy access for future retention. As you know, every single word can be applied in many different contexts.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Meaning applies in contexts. In fact, both meaning and context work together, yet many ELLs cannot differentiate between them or explore them wisely for future usage. This is a very common mistake that hinders language learners from knowing the proper context of each new piece of vocabulary they come across. As I have said, and as you know, when ELLs come across a new word, they often attempt to find its definition first, which can appeal as a short-term learning strategy to know a word’s information. For better vocabulary knowledge, though, ELLs should always count how many meanings there are for new terms. This will allow them to explore different contexts of each word they look up. If it is more than three definitions, then they need to apply them in similar contexts that they have read or heard recently. In other words, they need to be aware of the several meanings of the words and be conscious about their contexts. It is not hard for ELLs to use one meaning in the same situation or context several times. At this point, students play a game of meaning, trusting to capture the whole idea of vocabulary usage in different contexts. To put this step in practice, think of a word that has several definitions and notice how within each there are different contexts. For instance, as all of us know, the word yield has several meanings, and it can be used in several contexts. No matter how many meanings a word has, the “Parallel Processing”, or PP, feature in our mind takes care of every single detail. In other words, PP is responsible for packing up all the information needed for a single word in our brain, such as its spelling, image, meaning, contexts, and even its pragmatic use.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Words are in dictionaries. To approach this step, ELLs or any language learners must understand (at an early stage of language learning) how to look up vocabulary in the dictionary and practice that by themselves and with the help of their teachers. More importantly than knowing how to look up words, though, is knowing what aspects of vocabulary information or knowledge the target language has. In other words, it is advisable to consider word etymology, word families, the most common usage of a word, and an explanation of both grammatical rules and examples of the word in different contexts. From the perspective of second language learning, ELLs might not get to know all of the contexts of every new word they search or read, because it is hard to teach several contexts of every single word in a classroom setting. In these cases, learning how new vocabulary may be applied in different contexts, ELLs are encouraged to highlight new words and to see how they fit in that particular context. To construct vocabulary knowledge at the best level, ELLs should persuade themselves to use new words in writing for different contexts. The best method for ELLs to learn the contexts of words is by looking them up in readings and encouraging one’s self to use them in speech and writing. Do not forget, though, that building vocabulary lists will maximize vocabulary acquisition.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Apply different contexts of a word. The search for a particular word should not be stopped at knowing its meaning or definition. Rather, go further to understand the cultural aspects of where it could be applied and how people use it in their writing or speaking. More importantly, ELLs or language learners should repeatedly encounter new vocabulary several times to best recognize its usage in different contexts in order to master it and produce it in their own speech and writing. There are several ways to do that, among which may be listening to radio programs, watching lectures and conferences, listening to special interviews. Reading for pleasure may be the best way to evoke learning new vocabulary. This is what Krashen (1989) has claimed. The search for new words should be continued throughout the learning process with much care to keeping language in its natural context.

To apply the second step, first use the meaning that fits the context of the new word and then comprehend the sub-strategies that I mentioned in bullet-points. After acknowledging the definitions and contexts of a word, more listening practice should follow in order to integrate sound images with particular contexts. In the next step, I will walk you through some tips to develop and evolve your listening habits to grow your vocabulary bank.

CHAPTER III

LEARNERSWAY TO LEARN

[][][] Step #3: Pronunciation Practice Process

Hear your sound to produce your voice (private speech strategy). It will work.”

[][] Pronunciation Practice Process

As text and speech flow at different paces, listening to new words can clench the mind’s thinking process for part of a second, making you think of how could you say it as you heard it. A very good imagination of the sound can be linked with any image or object that you could relate the new word to. The real purpose of making the sound of a new word familiar is to help the mind relate it to different knowledge segments. For instance, if you know of the apple but never get a chance to hear its name, you will not know its sound features in your mind. Or if you hear a new word but didn’t establish its physical reality (knowing the object in a real context), you will have incompletely learned the process to help you use it when you need it. The linguist Ferdinand de Saussure was one of the first to propose that words are signs in a general theory of linguistics structure, which was then called “the science of signs: semiology.” Saussure’s theory of meaning is basically that each word has two dimensions: signifier and signified. For example, a word like ‘sign’ signifies the general concept of signs, such as those saying to “STOP,” and its ‘sound-image’ is the signifier that attached the meaning to the general concept in the mind.

In the following step, I will illustrate how you can deal with learning new words’ pronunciation. I will also help you practice in different ways. The ability to use new vocabulary can be signified into four phases of language skills. Listening is one part which contemplate our language use.

How do we produce our language? This can be an intimidating question, but it reveals what we are capable of communicating. Yet how can language speakers learn to pronounce each word they encounter for the first time? We naturally speak what we hear, but perhaps there is more to it. This process is truly part of how we produce the sound we hear every day. Listening and pronunciation processes must be understood as sequential steps. Hearing new words is so much more intimidating than speaking them, though, for a logical reason. That is true. For second language learners, the process is different than native-speakers. Once they hear a sound, their mind tries to figure out what it means or whether they know other words that mean the same. I have personally experienced this with my students and my language-learner peers during my time studying for different degrees. The most common question I hear when students encounter a new word is, “what does it mean?” However, I usually think of previous words I know, and later I do single listening and pronunciation practice. Let me explain my strategy in details. What I share with you here will contribute to build listening and pronunciation awareness.

In this step, I will show you how to remember new words by strategically practicing listening to their tone, syllables, sounds, and your own private speech to recall its pronunciation. I will show you how to use an image to remember the new word sound. Vocabulary retention is one of the key factors to help language learners became fluent and master each new word effectively. In this process, particularly, pronouncing every new word should give you a better sense of its place in the target language. This will especially allow you to use your vocabulary knowledge—knowing its meaning, form, and context, to achieve success in language communication. However, developing new word phonetic features like syllables, silent sounds, stress, and vowels, will need more practice, especially hearing each word naturally within its context. Listening and pronunciation are two sides of the same coin—that means if you listen tentatively and continuously you will record the pronunciation code of the new word as you hear it. But that is not always the case. What matter after all is how you practice listening and then pronounce these new words that you encounter in their contexts. To use the productive mind of your new language you must establish good listening habits and let your mind store these new sounds in your Borca area (as noted above, a part of the language area in the brain).

The easiest and most strategic ways to get into the habits of listening vary from learner to learner. However, we can see the most influential strategies to learn the pronunciation of a word. It will take some certain skills and habits too before you master pronunciations. Before we get started, let me ask you this simple question: what was the best new word that you learned, and how did you master its phonological structure? An answer to this question includes knowing its part of speech, knowing where to stress, knowing when to use it, knowing its syllables parts, and knowing if it has silent letters. In this case, you may remember an image, a bit of audio, or tapping your fingers on a table that is associated with learning your new vocabulary. And now let me show you my sub-strategies to learn the sound of a new word.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Listening is the best practice of all. Listening to a word alone to correct your pronunciation won’t help that much, but it is worth keeping your ears busy listening to media (e.g. radio, YouTube clips, TV, podcasts, people’s daily communications, etc.) or any audio channels that strengthen your knowledge of the target language’s sound system. A friend of mine said that he used to listen to kids’ movies and clips to learn and practice hearing new words faster. He claimed that it was his number one “strategy” to boost his vocabulary learning. It is our natural instinct to hear the sounds of the language that buzz in our ears every day. However, our record capacity for new sounds is not the same as being able to produce the new words we hear every single moment. Isn’t it amazing that we know all the sounds of each word in this book? So, get your ears a job to listen to new topics, discussions, and watch how your ears react to new words. Learning the segmental system of the language through context can increase your vocabulary bank, specific terms, and phrases; both nouns and verbs are usually used in any type of speech. My philosophy of learning sound begins by continuing to listen to different contexts with as much concentration on the whole meaning of its real sound function.

To better simulate realistic encounters with sounds, try to find your place in every discussion you hear around you. If you listen to a TED talk, for instance, try to think of the topic you heard from your own perspective. Analyze it from your previous knowledge and put more questions in mind for you to engage in knowing more new words. When deciding to add more vocabulary to your mind

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Engage in conversations with friends, teachers, service providers, and family members.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Enhance listening skills by summarizing what you have listened to (figuring out the theme, culture, type of language, center of the talk, etc.) .

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Develop confidence in speaking skill by listening well.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Cultivate listening habit (go beyond your learning goals).

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Syllable is for sound. What is more, knowing the syllables of a word can be the best way to practice the sound and the spelling of a word at the same time. There has been very little focus on the syllables of words in the classroom setting during my ESL learning stages. It is much easier to practice new words, particularly those that contain many syllables, in this way. Consider inconspicuous as in.con.spic.u.ous. This strategy works especially for beginners. Learning the sound of new words through syllables should make it easier for ELLs to break the sound into smaller parts. ELLs need to remember that people will not correct their pronunciation as they speak to them, however. They might be misunderstood and lose their communication with the interlocutors. Accordingly, it must be believed that language learning begins by building a good vocabulary background to comprehend and to participate effectively in basic conversation.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Private Speech has it all. Vygotsky called it egocentric speech, and Lantolf (1997) named it mental rehearsal. Whatever we call it, it has contributed to enhancing second language development in general. Private Speech is defined as the self-speaking of utterances for the purpose of understanding and maintaining language mediation by language learners, whether as a child or an adult, but not for communicating with other people. In second language acquisition, private speech has shown a positive language acquisition process in the classroom, especially as a self-regulation practice. In the classroom setting, the process of private speech or the repetition of someone else’s sound occurs usually in favor of L2 development to help learners understand the linguistic structure. More specifically, Ohta (2001), in her study of seven Japanese students, emphasized that adult learners prefer to repeat some words or phrases that they have been given by their teachers. Most likely private speech co-occurs during individual learning activities (to comprehend the sound & meaning in L2) and not with peer groups. In my own experience, I felt more confident to practice new words through private speech process (e.g. repeating some words or phrases for myself) while reading or sometimes when listening to media. Other strategies for listening are reading loudly, speaking or recording one’s self and expanding channels of communications; all of these can contribute to and assist learning the sound system of the target language.

CHAPTER IV

LEARNERSWAY TO LEARN

[][][] Step #4: Bookmark Your Vocabulary Search

A bookmark is always connected to my memories.”

[][] Bookmark Your Vocabulary Search

I am going to share a very common strategy used by many language learners when tackling new words. However, before explaining it in detail, let me describe the difference between “notebook” and “bookmark” in this context. Vocabulary learning usually involves the repetition of the cognitive and social or metacognitive-motor skills to help the mind develop higher retention of a new word. Most second language learners use notebooks to keep track of their new vocabulary lists. In notebooks strategy, language learners may keep several copies of their notebooks in different learning materials, for example, putting stickers near his/her sight, use smartphones, write new words in separate papers, and so on. However, my step’s process, called “bookmark your vocabulary search,” unfolds from two perspectives: first is the cognitive or mental process when you find new vocabulary and then bookmark it. Additionally, adhering to bookmark each word must be continuously and frequently checked to assist retaining and improving your vocabulary knowledge. It is simply for deliberate learning process.

If you decide to build a good, solid vocabulary bank or to master a large amount of an academic word list, you have to create your “vocabulary bookmark’’ notebook. This is the most frequent and useful strategy at all times that you would want to learn new words, such as when you need to remember and master new text or information from a school textbook. I share this step in a chronological and mindful order, given the whole vocabulary steps introduced in this book. The reason is to give a strong and reliable way to keep your mind at one place to check, add, remember, and connect your previous knowledge with new information. However, the bookmark strategy is more than just a way of connecting ideas. It is also a way to assist your vocabulary learning holistically and analytically. I am pretty sure that every language learner or speaker has put down his or her pencil on a special notebook for vocabulary list or to check the new words from time to time. I remember that my early time acquiring English, I began to have vocabulary notebooks for each school year, and I kept revising it from time to time. The benefit in learning outcomes of this method is that I never lost what I learned if I wrote it down even once. This strategy is a perfect way to recycle your old memories into new, refresh language. Some students prefer to have sticky notes or flashcards to practice their new words; however, bookmark strategy can evoke learning power for extra vocabulary.

In this strategy, I am going to show you how to strategically build and leverage the fundamental phase of your vocabulary acquisition as your mind grows bigger each time you read or hear new words. Before going deep into these sub-strategies of the vocabulary bookmark method, I want to bring your attention to a very important cognitive process to help you understand every step of the way in which you learn new words. Remember to make productive decisions and remind yourself everyday about your vocabulary goal so that you do not lose interest or feel weak and unmotivated about your studies.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Use vocabulary Bookmark notes all times – It is important to look back repeatedly for your new words in one place. Once you establish your notebook, your long term memory gates never close on the vocabulary written there, no matter how hard it is. You will train your brain to repeat, remember faster, recall new and old memory, relate big or small pieces of information together. The process of bookmarking each word should be continuously accessed in a daily or weekly timeframe. However, if you can stick to this bookmark process even for the first time you will see how much your brain appreciates the new knowledge you learned. Do not worry about the size or the color of the notebook—whatever you prefer is okay. If you prefer to have a plain bookmark, then you can imagine and write a new memory with each word. For instance, if you learn new words in a public context then write it down in your daily or weekly vocabulary list, associating it with an image that happened at the same time when you come across it. I highly suggest that you build a small memory image and write it next to the new word.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Bookmark new words is beneficial to remember – ELLs should bookmark their vocabulary search for two reasons. First, bookmarking can assist ELLs in knowing that he or she came across this word and specifically in which linguistic and cultural contexts he or she searched for this word. Second, bookmarking each piece of vocabulary usually encourages ELLs to again look up some of the words they searched for previously. This repetition can help evoke their memory to use extra vocabulary in the present time or tasks. More importantly, bookmarking strategy assists ELLs as a continuous vocabulary learning strategy throughout language learning to gain strength in all language skills. ELLs need to remember to bookmark their search to calculate what they have searched for and to return to it every week or so. This technique will help them know the new vocabulary for the long term instead of only temporarily, and it will encourage them to use it periodically. In fact, the access to the vocabulary bookmark search enhances language development in all language domains. In supporting this technique, I note a study in vocabulary learning by Izabella Kojic-Sabo and Patsy Lightbown (1999) showed that learning strategies, “such as keeping a notebook, looking words up in a dictionary, and reviewing what has been learned were associated with better vocabulary development.”

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Why bookmark your vocabulary search? Learning vocabulary remains the most frequent activity by L2 learners. ELLs must setup their vocabulary bookmark for the following reasons:

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Check new words daily and weekly.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Practice vocabulary repetition & retention practices.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Assist deliberate vocabulary learning.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Regularly look up new words in dictionary.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Bookmark new words is beneficial to remember.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Evoke L2 learners’ memory to use new words in speaking and writing.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Keep vocabulary learning updated.

The bookmark strategy increases your practice of repeating new words and helps you to remember an analogy, picture, or sound that will assist you in using new words. In this process, repetition takes place repeatedly. Moreover, using dictionary apps on cell phones can also help practice the four language domains and to help the language learner understand more of the functions of dictionaries. However, I think there should be some intensive dictionary use classes to bring the effective strategies for ELLs to cover good aspects of language patterns. Some textbooks have introduced dictionary use as a guideline for ELLs to practice how to look up words’ information in dictionaries. Without this guidance, ELLs may come to use dictionaries in unhelpful ways.

CHAPTER V

LEARNERSWAY TO LEARN

[][][] Step #5: Remembering Strategy for Writing

Writing makes words continue to flourish in our minds”

In the following, final step, I am going to show you how writing new words can be so powerful in different ways. As you know, the writing process is always the toughest skill to master when it comes to learning a new language. Research on how students master writing new vocabulary has little to say. The biggest fear that students encounter when learning new words is how to be able to remember their spelling. What is more, remembering strategy for writing will exceed the productive writing skills you need in your academic journey. As you know, pronunciation and spelling of the same word in English is drastically challenging. In other words, the writing of some words in English may not look the same as it pronounced. In this context, writing new words can be very hard if it has been heard for instance. Using vocabulary in our writing feels like it may open infinite paths and ways to express our ideas or thoughts. Henceforth, I am developing this step to assist you in remembering the graphic features of the new words and to evoke your memory to use it in your writing tasks. So, let us now dive into this process’s details.

[][] Remembering Strategy for Writing

If you are one of those who love to write their name repeatedly while they are freely thinking, that is because you have a good talent in writing and you picture your ideas too while writing. This technique enhances your relationship with every written word you see. But writing a new word may challenge the language users’ in different perspectives until it becomes fully engraved in the mind. Try to think about it. Can you remember the new word by writing it, sounding it out loud, making an analogy image of it, or maybe writing its syllables? These are my self-learning strategies I used to build up my new vocabulary. All these strategies could evoke your chance of writing productivity and increase your usages of the new words that you learned recently. However, you may also like the old tradition of dictating or recording the new words ten or twenty times on your vocabulary note book. Whenever you practice in writing the new words, you can activate your self-learning tools or strategy (autonomous learner) and help your memory to remember it so fast. The first, most challenging task when language learners and/or users practice writing new words is knowing how to write the new word with correct spelling. This dilemma is present in all languages, and it remains a burden in the education system around the world. Writing new words with correct spelling usually stays as a challenge for the long term, as the problem keeps appearing while one’s language acquisition continues and one’s vocabulary grows. It is very common too to hear language learners or users speak about their frustrations of not getting spelling right for their newest vocabulary. As you know, writing skill is the most productive skill in the language, and it needs full comprehension of vocabulary knowledge to skillfully produce words that are used frequently or not. In this process, because of its complexity, you need to turn on all your language skills to be able to write and produce your own linguistic outcomes. However, and sadly, writing is still scary and unlovable to a huge number of people. However, during my time learning a second language, I have tried several self-learning strategies that would work well with my brain style. For this reason, I have collected and gathered the most frequent strategies that could boost your knowledge of the new words and feel confident writing them.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. If I write them I will keep them in my mind – When working on any learning task in building a new vocabulary, writing them can double efforts to guarantee the best usage of new vocabulary. Having said that, whether they learn new words individually or with other chunks of words during reading or writing practices, the writing task remains the most challenging task among all language skills. Writing new vocabulary should and usually does take place in different stages of language development. In other words, a growing sense of the writing system appears in the early stages; then bit by bit, one comes to depict and understand writing style after a deliberate learning of new words which then integrate to grant good writing competency. Amongst all steps mentioned, using new vocabulary in any type of writing—such as blogs, diaries, notes, messages and emails—can assist the progress of vocabulary learning. Also, using this technique, ELLs and/or language users can foster new contexts each time they use their words. Perhaps the easiest way to say that is that you should pick up your pen and write new words! During this motor skill, your brain stores the new words’ spelling faster while writing each letter. You can use this technique to develop a socio-cognitive strategy to learning new words. I think that language users should encourage themselves to practice more writing activities to enrich their chances of picking up the style of writing in their native language or the target language (in the context of learning a second language) and encourage their vocabulary acquisition practices.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Picture your word – The favorite methodology of learning the spelling of the new words is to choose an analogy picture for each word you come across. In other words, make an image of every new word mentally to help remember its sound, spelling, and meaning in context for long-term memory practices. Oxford (1990) lists four reasons why linking words with images is beneficial for language learning. First, the capacity of images in our mind exceeds the verbal information we have; second, visual learning transfers information to long-term memory much more easily; third, visual images are the best to recall verbal information; finally, most language learners prefer visual learning. Additionally, one can enhance correct writing for any vocabulary by first having visual practices that capture the image of new vocabulary and store it in the mind.

A new study conducted at University of Georgetown found that our brain can add new words to its “visual dictionary” even if they are made up and have no meaning attached to them. This happens in the area called the Visual Word Form Area, VWFA. The study concludes that knowing the spelling of a word can be made easier by looking at the word as an image (for more information about this study see Glezer, Kim, Rule, Jiang, & Riesenhuber, 2015).

I insist that ELLs and/or language users should maintain extra care about the visual concept to pinpoint where their information is in a global view. Visualizing new words can aid to see where these words fit in the language and more particularly the written form. After knowing the visual image of the word, I would recommend you start to mark them in any reading materials or writing practices each time you come across these new words.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Use them in writing – Perhaps obviously, there is no better writing practice for any new vocabulary than using it in both speaking and writing to enhance language development stages. Practice using the new words in writing can increase your confidence to depict a new style of writing in essays and augment your language proficiency level. Besides, knowing the syllables of the word can assist you to explore parts of speech and understand the prefix, root, and suffix of that particular word. To achieve a good amount of writing practice, it is highly important to participate in academic blogs or group discussions online to see how people use particular vocabulary in different contexts. ELLs should write more at the early stage of language learning to improve in all respects, especially vocabulary learning.

Syllable is for spelling – There is much to say about the writing process in any language stage, yet most ELLs or language users ignore the use of syllables to learn the spelling of new words. As native speakers know, spelling is a hard learning technique to master writing in any language, especially when one is trying to achieve better literacy. From an ESL perspective, spelling through syllables plays a fundamental stage in learning the graphic system of the target language and being familiar with the part of speech of new words. Dividing the word in its syllables, stresses, or patterns will open your eyes to the deep structure of the new word. Take for example the word in·im·i·ta·ble (inimitable), which contains five syllables. By looking at the prefix and the suffix of this word, I can easily recognize several important pieces of information such as spelling, elements of predicting its meaning, breaking up the sound, and finally associating this word with an image or special context that you encountered this word. Understanding these small features of the word help your brain retain the new vocabulary and make sense of its meaning. Some students try to colored the syllables to help them memorize its spelling and visualize it. In ESL context, usually ELLs encounter word families hundreds of times and get lost in their spelling, yet acknowledging the syllables will assist ELLs recognize different types of the part of speech and practice them easily.

CONCLUSION

It is very hard to imagine yourself learning new information or a language and not being able to grow your vocabulary bank. The need for our life’s legacy and continual sparking of our journey grows everyday with new language and information entering our mind. Without vocabulary building, we can be very dumb at simple tasks or new knowledge exchanges. The force for building new vocabulary should guide you for brighter future. That is the reason why vocabulary learning strategy is needed to unlock your language competency and performance. In this book, I highlighted the importance of vocabulary learning and how to strategically expand your knowledge. Using my VBS strategy will assist you in several learning processes including; build up new words, maintain and refresh your language input, comprehend and utilize every new word cognitively, socially and meta-linguistically, and sustain your goals on learning the new language as well.

To sum up, I have showed you how strategically to work on learning new words by following the 5 sequential self-learning steps I introduced. As mentioned earlier, to help you apply these steps, I recommend that you first learn as much synonyms as you can remember, then connect the meaning with its context in which you encountered the new word, after that listen to the new words continuously and mimic the sound using your Private-speech and breaking it in its syllable, while focusing to apply these early steps, always and all times bookmark your vocabulary in a special documents that you visit from time to time, and lastly, write each new word, picture it (have an image to help you remember it) and use it in your journals, essays, emails, etc. Use the following model to check it each time you learn new words. This will create and establish a self-regulation habit for you to build your vocabulary knowledge and develop your language learning.

VOCAB-BACKUP 5 STEPS STRATEGY

*
h3<>{color:#000;}. Look for Synonyms First

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Use semantic map for each word.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Check synonyms first for new words.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Synonyms mean more words.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Build up global knowledge of new words by knowing synonyms.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Experience different contexts of new words.

*
h3<>{color:#000;}. Meaning with Context

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Guess the meaning from context before knowing the meaning.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Check words’ context in dictionaries.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Apply different contexts of a word in speaking & writing.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Check the meaning that fits the new words’ context.

*
h3<>{color:#000;}. Pronunciation Practice Process

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Listening is the best practice of all.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Syllable is for sound.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Private Speech has it all.

*
h3<>{color:#000;}. Bookmark your vocabulary search!

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Set up a vocabulary notebook.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Check new words daily and weekly.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Repetition & retention practices.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Deliberate vocabulary Learning.

*
h3<>{color:#000;}. Don’t forget to Write them!

*
p<>{color:#000;}. If I write them, I will keep them in my mind.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Picture your word.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Use them in writing.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Check syllable for spelling practices.

Last but not least, it is undeniable that at the early stages of language learning, ELLs have to use and comprehend vocabulary learning strategies to expand their language development. It is the language acquisition process that interacts vigorously to any learning activities in the target language. Thus, studying vocabulary is not the only primary task to foster any new language, but it can also expand what ESLs need to integrate their language domains at early stages successfully. The Vocab-Backup Strategy accounts for a practical way (as a self-regulating process) to learn new vocabulary sequentially as to what and where ELLs need to focus their attention for long term brain practices. It is a sequential process for learning vocabulary; it starts from the largest themes to more detailed knowledge of a particular vocabulary. The process of this approach begins by looking for synonyms at first glance to capture bigger image of the new word. After that, the second step is exploring more details of the word through intensive looking to definitions in different contexts to embed the right usage of a word. Then comes understanding the phonological system of the word; which is a very intellectual task to form meaning comprehension in the mind. Fourth process is practicing writing with word-pictures (or images that work as analogies of the word) to build analogy code for each new word. Finally, in terms of maximizing vocabulary learning, the bookmark skill should strengthen rigorous usage of the new words in multiple contexts. This approach has been introduced as a self-regulation process used during language learning stage which I hope it can offer a new and beneficial vocabulary learning strategy for ELLs.

ACTIVITIES TO USE VBS

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Alharbi, A. (2015). Building Vocabulary for Language Learning: Approach for ESL Learners to Study New Vocabulary. Journal of International Students, 5(4), 301-313. Retrieved May 4, 2015.

Glezer, L., Kim, J., Rule, J., Jiang, X., & Riesenhuber, M. (2015). Adding Words to the Brain’s Visual Dictionary: Novel Word Learning Selectively Sharpens Orthographic Representations in the VWFA. The Journal of Neuroscience, 35(12), 4965-4972. Retrieved April 8, 2015, from http://www.jneurosci.org/content/35/12/4965.full.pdf html

Aebersold, J. A., & Field, M. L. (1997). From reader to reading teacher: issues and strategies for second language classrooms. Cambridge: Cambridge university press.

Ferris, D., & Hedgcock, J. (2014). Teaching L2 composition: purpose, process, and practice (Third ed.). New York: Routledge.

Genesee, F. (2000). Center for Applied Linguistics. Center for Applied Linguistics. Retrieved December 23, 2013, from http://www.cal.org/

Hedge, T. (2000). Teaching and learning in the language classroom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Johnson, B., & Goldstein, J. M. (2011). Advanced word power (2nd ed.). West Berlin, N. J.: Townsend Press.

Johnson, M. (2004). A philosophy of second language acquisition. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Lewis, N. (2014). Word power made easy. The complete Handbook for Building a superior Vocabulary: Expanded and Completely Revised. Ed., (ebook) Anchor Books.

Lightbown, P., & Spada, N. M. (2006). Learning Language. How languages are learned (3rd ed., pp. 96-100). Oxford [England: Oxford University Press.

Nation, I. S. (2001). Learning vocabulary in another language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ohta, A. S. (2001). Second language acquisition processes in the classroom: learning Japanese. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Oxford, R. L. (2011). Teaching and Researching Language Learning Strategies. Pearson Education Limited.

Oxford, R. L. (1990). Language learning strategies: what every teacher should know. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.Peregoy, S. F., & Boyle, O. (2013). Reading, writing, and learning in ESL: a resource book for teaching K-12 English learners (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Sahin, N. T., Pinker, S., Cash, S. S., Schomer, D., & Halgren, E. (n.d.). Sequential Processing of Lexical, Grammatical, and Phonological Information Within Broca’s Area.Sequential Processing of Lexical, Grammatical, and Phonological Information Within Broca’s Area. Retrieved March 17, 2014, from http://www.sciencemag.org/content/326/595.

APPENDIX

Second language learners are encouraged to be familiar with the High Frequency Words (HFW). HFW “are quite simply those words which occur most frequently in written and/or in a reading materials, for example, ‘and’, ‘the’, ‘as’, and ‘it’. They are often words that have little meaning on their own, but they do contribute a great deal to the meaning of a sentence.” (www.highfrequencywords.org)

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adel M. Alharbi is a PhD student at The University of Memphis and worked as a language teacher (previously). He has been teaching EFL & ESL students for over five years but also coaching and volunteering to assist second language learners in different levels. He is also, a cultural consultant, interpreter and translator of English and Arabic language. Alharbi’s major research interests falls into; Vocabulary learning strategies, Second language Acquisition, Intercultural Communication, and ESL studies.

 

[email protected]

click here for better display of all the images, figures, and tables in this book.

 

I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR FEEDBACK

 

 

 

 

I greatly appreciate hearing from people about my work so I can learn from them and make my work more responsive to their needs. So, before you close my book, I would like you to reflect on these questions and post your review on Amazon.

 

1)Was this book helpful to you? Why?

2)What is one thing about this book that changed your opinion about the topic discussed?

3) How can I make this book look better in the future?

 

Your feedback is very important to me.. thank you!

 

Please post your supportive review (including your answers to questions 1 and 2 above) on Amazon.

Then send me your answer to question 3 via email at [email protected] so I can make the next edition of the book even better!

 

Thank you in advance,

 

Adel M. Alharbi

 


Vocab-Backup Strategy: 5 sequential self-learning steps to boost your vocabulary

• Do you want to boost your vocabulary knowledge, read and comprehend new texts, and be a good conversationalist? • Do you feel that your writing style stays the same every time you put your pen to paper? • Do you like to improve your learning habits and enhance your memory and attention? • Do you struggle understanding course content in college, or are you a teacher who wants to help your students build their academic vocabulary? • Do you like to improve and increase your WORD LISTS faster? If any of the above applies to you, I encourage you to read this book. It identifies and offers help for most issues that arise when you encounter new words which might hinder your understanding of a new text or involvement in conversation. These moments of disconnection come from not knowing words. Thinking strategically and improving your autonomous self-learning skills are the basic aims of this book; they will help you to retain new vocabulary into your longer-term memory and develop your language. For over 10 years, I have been a language learner, teacher and researcher. I have carefully researched and gained so much knowledge from these topics (vocabulary acquisition; vocabulary learning strategy). Now, I am ready to put this book in your hands for you to use as a reference. My greatest motivation to write this book was my students. They struggled hard to keep up with academic work and to write excellent college papers. Now, I want to share what I know to help people like them This book contains the self-learning strategy that each learner has but may not know how to use. The Vocab-backup Strategy has been analytically collected, designed, researched, and finally published to enrich your learning habits with the most important skills you need to build up your vocabulary size. With its sequential processes and procedures, you can develop an excellent knowledge of new vocabulary, beginning with Step 1 - Look for synonyms first - up to Step 5 - Remembering Strategy for Writing. In this book, the 5 strategy to learn vocabulary is very beneficial for English as a Second Language learners to boost their vocabulary knowledge. It will help them increase and build extra VOCABULARY size for their English Language learning.

  • ISBN: 9781370721023
  • Author: Adel Alharbi
  • Published: 2017-02-27 06:05:18
  • Words: 13853
Vocab-Backup Strategy: 5 sequential self-learning steps to boost your vocabulary Vocab-Backup Strategy: 5 sequential self-learning steps to boost your vocabulary