Exercises in active vocabulary acquisition

The main types of active vocabulary acquisitionexercises are receptive-reproductive and reproductive simulative communicative exercises. The student perceives a speech pattern and performs with it certain operations in oral or written form in accordance with the communicative situation created by the teacher. The kind of the operation performed depends on the kind of exercise, which may be as follows:

- imitation of a speech pattern;

- laconic answers to the teachers alternative questions;

- substitution into a speech pattern;

- completion of a speech pattern;

- answering to other question types;

- autonomous use of lexical items in a phrase/sentence;

- combination of speech patterns into supra-phrasal monological and dialogical units.

It is worthwhile to comment on certain kinds of exercises. Thus, if the teacher begins with asking general questions expecting laconic answers, he checks the students understanding of new lexical items. It is advisable to start reproduction of a new lexical item with imitation or laconic answers to the teachers alternative questions, from which the students future answers can be picked out. Laconic answers to special questions are also preferable to begin with.

Cues for substitution elements in exercises can be of verbal character and may be provided by the teacher either orally or in the list, and non-verbal character (objects, pictures, etc.).

Here are a few examples of simulative communicative exercises in active vocabulary acquisition:

1) Answer my questions. Give laconic answers.

T: Is Katherina by Shevchenko a story or a poem?

Ps: A poem.

T: Is or a novel? Etc.

2) Agree with me if I am right.

T: Katherina by Shevchenko is a poem.

Ps: You are right. Katherina by Shevchenko is a poem.

T: Hamlet by Shakespeare is a play. Etc.

3) Correct me if I am not right.

T: Cinderella is a short story.

P1: You arent right. Cinderella is a fairytale.

Cl: Cinderella is a fairytale. Etc.

4) Complete my statements.

T: Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe is

P1: Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe is an adventure story.

Cl: Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe is an adventure story.

5) Answer my questions.

T: What is your favourite poem?

P1: The poem My Hearts in the Highlands by Robert Burns. Etc.

6) Tell the class about your favourite novel, play, poem, short story, fairytale, etc.

T: My favourite play is The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde.

P1: My favourite short story is The Last Leaf by OHenry.

P2: My favourite story is The Catcher in the Rye by J. Sallinger. Etc.

7) Ask each other about books you like best. You can use the substitution table:

  What novel story play poem by do you like best?


Best of all I like the novel story play poem by


8) Write a note to your classmate. Ask him/her about his/her favourite novel (story, play, poem). Wait for the answer.

Alongside with simulative communicative activities, language drills are also used for lexical item acquisition. They can be aimed at:

a) acquiring form and meaning of a vocabulary item:

repeating words, word-combinations and speech formulas after the teacher/ speaker, emphasising stress, a difficult sound, a sound-combination;

remembering and naming words with a specific orthogram, affixes included;

grouping words after different formal signals: word-building elements, parts of speech, etc.;

arranging words in alphabetical order;

remembering and naming all kinds of objects when given the name of the type (e.g., furniture a table, a chair, a wardrobe, etc.);

choosing a word (corresponding/ not corresponding to a certain topic) from a row of words;

filling in blanks in utterances with corresponding words;

naming a word according to its definition or picture;

choosing a synonym/ antonym, mother tongue equivalent to a word/ word-combination from several suggested variants;

h) acquiring combinability:

composing word-combinations from separate words;

extending an utterance with the help of attaching attributes to underlined nouns and objects to verbs-predicates;

naming nouns which can be used with a certain verb and adjectives which can accompany a certain noun;

singling out a word (from a row of words), which does not combine with the key word;

finding equivalents in the mother tongue to certain set expressions in the target language.

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