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Choice of methods

Conveying the meaningof a word implies making the learner understand its meaning. Understanding or explaining ‘what something means’ is more complicated than teachers or students sometimes recognise. There is a temptation, for example, for teachers to ‘explain’ a word by a direct translation. It is exceptionally rare for a word in one language to have a direct equivalent in another. Much translation-based teaching ignores this, and encourages the idea of simple equivalents.

Methods of translation associate a target language word with the corresponding word in L1 and include the following techniques:

1) one word translation: a desk – парта;

2) multiword translation of lexical items: there is - находится, висит, стоит, лежит;

3) phrase-by-phrase translation used mainly in intensive methods of teaching;

4) phrasal translation of set-expressions and phraseologisms: A friend in need is a friend indeed. – Друзья познаются в беде.

5) definition, i.e. revealing the meaning descriptively: a watch – часы, которые носят на руке или на цепочке;

6) interpretation, i.e. a short explanation of the notion denoted by the word: to go – двигаться каким-либо способом от данной точки.

Methods of direct comprehension (non-translation methods) of conveying the meaning associate the target language word directly with the notion it denotes and include:

1) visual conveyance, which includes:

- static and dynamic pictures with or without a plot;

- objects of reality;

- mimics, gestures and general body posture;

2) verbal conveyance:

- with the help of context/ an illustrative sentence or sentences: The big minute hand did not move;

- contrasting a lexical item to other items of the target language (antonyms: clever – silly; synonyms: enormous – huge – large; complements: morning – afternoon – evening- night; converses: employer – employee; hyponyms: car, van, bus, lorry are hyponyms of vehicle;

- definition in L2: a ladle is a large spoon with a long handle used to serve soup;

- word-formation analysis: un-fortun-ate- ly; pen-man- ship;

- interpretation in L2: sir – a respectful term of address to a man.

The enumerated above ways of meaning conveyance have their advantages and disadvantages.

Translation saves time and is universal in usage. At the same time, translation increases the possibility of intralingual interference.

Non-translation methods develop language apprehension, increase language practice, build up cues for memorising (for example, cues on the basis of similarity – synonyms, cues on the basis of contrast – antonyms; formal cues – on the basis of a word structure), and strengthen association links. At the same time, direct comprehension methods need more time than translation, they do not always provide exact understanding.

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