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Teaching and Learning Vocabulary in Another Language

Davidson, P., Coombe, C., Lloyd, D. & Palfreyman, D. (Eds).
TESOL Arabia, 2007, 342 pages
ISBN: 9948-8566-6-X

This TESOL Arabia publication is a collection of twenty-seven chapters focusing on different aspects of teaching and learning vocabulary. The book is a timely response to an increase in interest in vocabulary as a product of the incorporation of the lexical approach into mainstream teaching, the use of corpora to identify commonly used items and lexical patterns and ongoing research into the effective learning and storage of vocabulary items.

The appeal of this book lies in its diversity. Geographically, there are contributions from Canada, Iran, Poland, Japan and New Zealand amongst others, while in terms of content, the chapters range from theoretical articles and research papers to purely practical classroom ideas. Key areas such as defining vocabulary, learner strategies and assessment are dealt with, along with considerations of corpus linguistics, vocabulary acquisition and integrating vocabulary into the curriculum. There are contributions from well-known names in the field of vocabulary such as Michael McCarthy, Ronald Carter and Averil Coxhead, names from the more general ELT field such as Hugh Dellar, and many others who are more likely to be known only in their local contexts. It is pleasing to see contributions from emerging ELT contexts sitting comfortably alongside those from the UK, USA and UAE. Turkey, in particular, is well represented, with contributions from Adam Simpson, Derin Atay and Robert Ledbury.

The book is divided into four parts. The first ten chapters deal with the implications of vocabulary research on teaching with an emphasis on advanced levels, lexical chunks and collocations. For the practicing teacher, the second section on strategies for teaching and learning vocabulary is perhaps the most relevant, containing useful hints on areas such as teaching prefixes and suffixes, combining vocabulary learning and reading, designing vocabulary notebooks, and using graded readers. Part three looks at integrating vocabulary into the curriculum, including some insights into the use of technology, while part four is concerned with various aspects of assessing and measuring vocabulary. Sensibly, following an introduction by the editors, there is a short summary of each chapter, enabling the reader to dip into the book according to specific interests.

Although many of the chapters report the findings of projects and research, the style throughout is not overly academic, appealing to both vocabulary specialists and general ELT practitioners looking for ideas to expand their repertoire. A very useful collection indeed.

198 Sept/Oct 2007