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Process of vocabulary acquisition

Lexical material, similar to grammatical material, is also acquired in three stages: 1) presentation stage; 2) operations automation stage and 3) actions automation stage.

At the presentation stage a new lexical item is introduced and explained, perceived and comprehended.

Presentation of lexical items of active vocabulary is characterised by the following:

1) Explanation should run from the concept to its language implementation, i.e. its form. The word is presented within a phrase orally. Students are instructed to predict the meaning of the word and reproduce it.

2) Each word meaning is treated as a separate item of teaching because different meanings of one and the same word frequently diverge in their usage and each case of a different usage needs its own comments and exercises.

3) It is necessary to know the limits of the usage of a particular lexical item determined by its feasibility in a particular language and speech context, its combinability and structure, as well as its difference from synonyms. All these should be provided for with both specific explanations and exercises.

4) Introduction of new vocabulary items should initially be performed orally according to the principle of oral precedence, which presupposes oral pre-reading and pre-writing work at the new language input, including lexical one. Various visual cues can be used simultaneously to make the introduction easy.

Passive vocabulary items presentation is characterised by the following:

1) Explanation should run from the language form of a word to the concept it denotes.

2) Different meanings of every vocabulary item are provided. These meanings are fixed in the vocabulary minimum. The greatest possible number of meanings of each lexical item under study is explained as it is impossible to foresee in which of the meanings the word may function in a text read or heard by a learner. The range of meanings to be explained is determined by the stage of learning and teaching conditions.

3) For proper and quick comprehension of the word meaning in the text, it is necessary that informative and structural features of a word should be shown to students to differentiate it from its homonyms (especially homophones in listening comprehension).

4) Introducing new lexical input can be based on both written and oral texts.

5) As soon as new words are introduced, learners should be aimed at recognising them while reading or listening.

If a word or one of its meanings is related to the active minimum, then it should naturally be included into the passive minimum. First the word is learned as the active one. Then all necessary information for its recognition in reading and listening is provided.

Another important question to be solved is whether to introduce and to acquire new vocabulary items only in context or as isolated items. Taking into account that learners should master the target language both receptively and reproductively, both exaggerations seem inappropriate. Refusing to work with an isolated vocabulary item will lead to impossibility to recognise and understand it in different contexts, as a contextual meaning does not always coincide with the main nominative meaning of the word. The same is true of refusal from contextualised introduction and training. It will obviously lead to the same limitation of the word comprehensibility.

Teacher preparation for explaining new lexical input comes to the following:

· New vocabulary items are analysed so that to determine their difficulties in form, meaning and usage. Correspondingly, words are grouped according to these difficulties.

· New words dosage is decided on as well as the way of their introduction.

· The ways of how to convey the meaning of new words are chosen. At the same time, the most suitable way of presentation – inductive or deductive – is chosen.

· The explanation (commentary) is compiled for every new vocabulary item. Illustrative material is selected.

· Types and kinds of training exercises and their sequence are determined.

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