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Requirements to exercises
It should be remembered that the stage of presentation of new lexical input determines the effectiveness of its acquisition. At the senior stage, the effectiveness of learning depends to a large extent upon the organisation of the students’ self-dependent training. Students’ books and workbooks should meet the following methodological requirements:
1) They should contain instructions, exercises and clues to control the process of self-dependent acquaintance with vocabulary items.
2) Texts, examples and tasks should put forward feasible tasks and create problem situations to activate students’ thinking activity.
3) Language material (texts, illustrations, schemes, tables, etc.) should be organised in the way to stimulate students’ independent training.
Exercises of the presentation stage are to be part of the general system of exercises aimed at developing habits and skills of using lexical material in all kinds of speech activity. Exercises of this stage are characterised by the following features:
· They are to constitute an integral part of explanation, performing illustrative, explanatory and controlling functions.
· New lexical items should be presented in the context of familiar lexical materialand previously acquired grammatical forms and structures.
· Exercises should contain not only elementary operations, but also complicated mental actions. The latter will help developing learners’ creative abilities and will make it possible for them to use the newly presented lexical input in speech activity, first of all, in listening and speaking.
Here are a few examples of lexical exercises of the first stage. They fall into three groups according to the character of speech activity: 1) receptive; 2) receptive-reproductive and 3) reproductive exercises.
· Show the objects named by the teacher.
· Do what the teacher asks you to.
· Draw or show schematically the objects named by the teacher.
· Give Russian equivalents of the words emphasised by the teacher in a sentence.
· Explain in the mother tongue the difference between two synonyms used in two different sentences.
· Arrange the words in the alphabetic order.
· Define the meaning of the word after its components.
· Guess the meaning of international words and check your guess in the dictionary.
· Underline the newly presented words in the text.
· Underline the words on the topic from the text.
· Find in the text word-combinations with the new word.
· Identify the new word in different contexts and translate it into the mother tongue.
· Repeat after the teacher/speaker on tape chorally and individually an isolated word, a word in a word-combination/ sentence.
· Repeat after the speaker pairs of words paying attention to the difference in their pronunciation.
· Give nouns that can combine with the new verb.
· Give the antonym to the new word used in a sentence.
· Give adjectives that can combine with the new word.
· Copy out from the text the words of the same stem.
· Substitute one word for the phraseological unit.
· Name the objects in the classroom.
· Match words to the picture.
· Arrange words in thematic groups.
· Write words on the suggested topic on the blackboard, e.g. the names of parts of body and body posture and movements (with the help of the whole group).
· Give laconic answers to the teacher’s general or alternative questions.
Exercises of both automation stages take into account the sequence of forming habits, and the operations the habits are based on. Since the habit is defined as ‘consolidated operations’ (A.N. Leontyev), every type of exercises should include kinds of activities providing a sufficient number of repetitions of new lexical items in different combinations and contexts. There are two ways of modifying the lexical item while performing exercises: 1) a lexical item is substituted in the fixed lexical context; 2) one and the same lexical item appears in a modified context.
Types of exercises for forming lexical habits are closely interconnected, yet each of them has its specific features and its own main objective. Thus, if we compare exercises in differentiation and transformation, we’ll see that in both types operations of choice are consolidated. However, differentiation is based only on the set of distinctive signs, while transformation deals with substituting and reorganising structures. In the latter case the choice is based on more complicated logical-notional operations, connected with understanding the correlation between the original and the target pattern.
Within every type of exercises there may be kinds, reflecting gradual movement from minute language signs (a word, a word-combination, a sentence) to greater ones (SPHUs, texts) and from elementary operations to more complicated mental actions.
Communicative exercises should be based on texts having a considerable potential for both solving communicative tasks and achieving cognitive purposes. The new words in these exercises should be actuated at the level of involuntary attention, since the mnemonic task is incompatible with simultaneous solving logical-notional tasks.
The second and the third stages of the vocabulary acquisition process have very much in common: both stages are aimed at automating the students’ lexical habits and preparing the ground for further developing and improving the lexical component of communicative skills. The common aim determines common types and kinds of exercises involved, the difference lying in the level of automation and context.
Thus, the exercises of the automation operation stage are aimed at automating students’ operations with new vocabulary items at the level of a word form, a free word-combination and a phrase.
The exercises of the automation action stage are aimed at automating students’ actions with new vocabulary items at the level of a monological or dialogical SPHU.
Though aimed at the same objective – automating operations and actions with the new lexical input – exercises in active vocabulary acquisition differ from those in passive vocabulary acquisition.