Teaching Vocabulary Through Using Realia

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teaching vocabulary, realia, hand on techiniquies, strategies


  • Universidad de Magallanes Facultad de Humanidades

    Departamento de Educacin


    Adolfo Segundo Paredes Oyarzo Marcela Andrea Paredes Vargas Jessica Edith Rojas Reyes Profesor Gua: Rodrigo Sirn Ramrez

    Punta Arenas, Chile

    Diciembre, 2008

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    Content Page

    Acknowledgements . i

    Abstract .. ii

    Introduction ... 1

    Chapter 1

    1. Background to the Research .. 4

    1.1. Research Question . 4

    1.2. General Objective 4

    1.3. Specific Questions .. 4

    1.4. Specific Objectives . 5

    Chapter 2

    2. Theoretical Framework .. 7

    2.1. What id Learning? ... 7

    2.2. Teaching Vocabulary . 11

    2.2.1. Lexical Approach . 12

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    2.3. Presenting New Vocabulary . 14

    2.4. Teaching Techniques . 15

    2.5. Realia .. 17

    2.6. Realia: A Methodological Tool . 20

    2.7. The Relationship between the Five Senses and the Vocabulary

    Learning Process by the Use of Realia .. 23

    2.8. The Advantages and disadvantages of Realia . 26

    Chapter 3

    3. Study .. 30

    3.1. Realia as Subject of Study 30

    3.2. Method ... 35

    3.2.1. Objectives of the Study .. 36

    3.2.2. Participants ... 36

    3.2.3. Data Collection . 37

    3.2.4. Instrument . 38

    3.2.5. Assessment .. 40

    3.3. Results ... 42

    3.3.1. Techniques 42 Group 1: Translation .. 42 Group 2: Explanation . 43 Group 3: Realia 44

  • 5 Group 4: Pictures 45

    3.3.2. Genders . 46

    3.3.3. Ages 48

    3.3.4. Achievement per Technique 50

    3.3.5. Non Achievement per Technique ... 51

    Chapter 4

    4. Analysis of the results .. 54

    Chapter 5

    5. Conclusion .. 57

    5.1. Recommendations . 62

    Bibliography .. 66

    Cybergraphy . 69

    Appendixes ... 72

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    Infinitas gracias a todos ustedes que nos han brindado su inspiracin, apoyo

    e incondicionalidad en todo momento. Por que sus palabras y presencia son

    nuestra fuente de inspiracin. Es por esto, que no nos conformaremos con

    dormir en la meta, sino que nos quedaremos an de pie

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    This research was carried out in order to determine in what ways Realia

    contributes to vocabulary learning among young learners. A comparative

    analysis on the issue of Realia in contrast with other techniques is made

    regarding the ways vocabulary is taught and learnt. The research shows

    Realia as an effective technique that can be applied when learning newly

    presented vocabulary. It is, therefore, necessary for teachers to consider

    Realia when teaching since it offers a comprehensible input to young

    learners, and at the same time it is an effective methodological tool to learn

    new vocabulary.

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    For many years philosophers and experts in education had the belief

    that the teaching of vocabulary was based only on the study of grammatical

    structures and rules rather than the acquisition of new lexical items. Clearly,

    vocabulary learning was omitted and suppressed by predominant and out-of-

    date approaches, which were influenced by grammar and translation

    procedures solely.

    Regardless the fact that the teaching of vocabulary can seem a very

    daunting process especially when talking about a foreign language , many

    linguists and methodologists have attempted to give emphasis on how it

    should be taught and learned. The main reason of the latter is that the ways

    in which words are presented by the teacher, could have a great impact on

    students motivation to learn a foreign language. Evidently, these days, the

    real concern has to do more with the function of a language and its practical

    and everyday use for communication. In other words, the techniques used to

    present vocabulary should contribute to make learning more enduring and

    long-lasting. Along with that, no word should be taught isolated, but in a

    context where students can understand the real use of the word and make

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    connections with other words belonging to the same group or inserted in the

    same situation.

    Essentially, the context and frequency of words in a language is what

    teachers should consider at the time they present a new word or group of


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    In what ways does realia contribute to vocabulary learning among young learners?


    Determine in what ways realia contribute to vocabulary learning among young learners


    What are the advantages / disadvantages of realia? In what way does realia affect motivation intrinsically or extrinsically? How effective can the use of realia prove to be a good technique? In what ways can realia be used as an effective methodology? How closely are the senses related to vocabulary learning by means of realia?

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    Identify the advantages and disadvantages of realia Determine the impact of realia on young learners motivation Determine the effectiveness of realia as a technique for vocabulary teaching State the ways where realia could be applied as a methodological tool Identify the relationship between the five senses and the vocabulary learning process by the use of realia

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    You don't understand anything until you learn it more than one way.

    Marvin Minsky , 1987


    In accordance with Anthony Lewis (2007), learning is the cognitive

    process of acquiring skill or knowledge. Under this statement, learning is

    perceived as the action of gaining information not only from the classroom

    realm, but also from practical events in everyday life. By doing this, the new

    information becomes part of the way individuals think or behave.

    Teachers are the ones who have the possibility to identify observable

    behaviours from learners when teaching. This viewpoint is supported by

    Robert Gagne (1965), a well-known American teacher, who held that

    conditions of learning are the various sets of observable circumstances that

    can be set up for learning to occur. Furthermore, Gagne distinguishes

    between two types of conditions, internal and external. However, when



    H00153360Sticky Note

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    talking about teaching, the internal conditions are associated with learners

    own "states", in which attention, motivation and recall are included.

    For Gagne, learning is progressive, and in that it occurs

    progressively it does so by way of a learning hierarchy. As a

    progressive process, learning is developed steadily through a series of states

    that can be arranged into different stages. In order to illustrate what has been

    mentioned previously, Gagne proposed the phases of learning, which are

    presented as follows:

    Phase I: Receiving the stimulus situation Phase II: Stage of acquisition Phase III: Storage Phase IV: Retrieval

    From the list of phases shown above, it can be inferred that learning

    occurs starting with the first reactions to the stimulus, which is a response to

    something new. Being the stimulus received primarily, individuals get the

    knowledge, skills, etc. from what has been introduced. In order to make clear

    the concept of storage, Gairns (1986) suggested that some insights must be

    considered so as to get an understanding of how the learning process works:

    It seems that learning new items involve storing them first in our short-



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    term memory, and afterwards in long-term memory. First, retention in

    short-term memory is not effective if the number of chunks of

    information exceeds seven. Therefore, this suggests that in a given

    class we should not aim at teaching more than this number. However,

    our long-term memory can hold any amount of information. From the

    statement indicated formerly, the new skill or knowledge should be put into

    practice, due to the fact that by doing this, the new information is incorporated

    into the long-term memory, otherwise it may be lost. When learning is

    accomplished, learners are capable of accessing information in memory.

    Bearing in mind Piagets Stages of Development (1936), emerges the

    notion of restructuring the teaching methodologies and techniques towards a

    teaching aimed at the manner something is taught rather than what is

    taught. This premise is supported by Piaget as the cognitive development of

    human beings, in which individuals learn through memorable experiences by

    interacting with the environment. The ways in which these experiences are

    encountered or presented to the individuals are essential in their cognitive

    and learning process.

    In accordance with what has been stated previously, there are many

    theories and methodologies which have been used in language teaching.


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    Some EFL1 methodologies have based their implementation on the use of

    certain kinds of materials, depending on approaches in language teaching.

    The following chart demonstrates this association of techniques, relying

    on the approach or method applied:

    Table One: Materials required for the main approaches and methods of foreign language teaching. (Taken from On materials use training in EFL teacher education: Some

    reflections, by Adriana Gonzalez, 2006)

    1 English as a Foreign Language


    Audiolingual Tapes Visuals Language laboratories

    Total Physical Response

    No basic text Voice, actions and gestures

    are requires in initial stages Materials and media required


    The Silent Way Colored rods Color-coded pronunciation


    Community Language Learning

    No textbook Materials are developed as

    course progresses

    The Natural Approach Realia


    Text with literary quality Tapes Classroom fixtures Music

    Communicative Language Teaching Authentic Materials Task-based materials

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    When talking about foreign language learning, the Natural Approach

    was developed by Krashen and Terrell (1983). They maintained that this

    approach emphasised Comprehensible Input, and at the same time, it made

    a distinction between acquisition and learning. Being the former regarded

    as a natural subconscious process and the latter a conscious process. On top of that, these theorists argued that the language learning process could not result in acquisition. The Natural approach whose basis

    was on meaning, not form, emphasizes the idea that the more visualization

    and recreational activities are applied in the language classroom, the better

    learners acquire a foreign language on the basis of a natural progression.


    Undoubtedly, in foreign language teaching learners and teachers are

    incessantly in contact with vocabulary.

    As stated by Hatch and Brown (1995), vocabulary is defined as the list

    of words that speakers of a particular language use. This means that the

    use of vocabulary plays a predominant role in order to make communication

    successful no matter what language is being referred to.


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    2.2.1. Lexical Approach

    For years philosophers and experts in education had the belief that the

    teaching of vocabulary was based only on the study of grammatical structures

    and rules rather than the acquisition of new vocabulary. The Lexical

    Approach was developed by Lewis in 1993. Lewis emphasizes on the

    importance of vocabulary as being basic to communication i.e. it

    concentrates on developing learners proficiency with lexis, or words and

    words combinations. When referring to lexical items, they are associated with

    words and phrases used in a particular language (A. S. Hornby, 2000).

    Thanks to this approach, from then on, vocabulary was regarded as the core

    of foreign language teaching, owing to the fact that, as maintained by this

    author, language consists of grammaticalised lexis, not lexicalised

    grammar. This statement refers to the idea that words convey the meaning

    of a message clearly, but not their structure. Following the ideas established

    by Lewis and his Lexical Approach, there is a taxonomy which classifies

    lexical items.


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    Lewiss Taxonomy

    Words (e.g., book, pen) Polywords (e.g., by the way, upside down) Collocations, or word partnerships (e.g., community service, absolutely convinced)

    Institutionalized utterances (e.g., I'll get it; We'll see; That'll do; If I were you ...; Would you like a cup of coffee?)

    Sentence frames and heads (e.g., That is not as ...as you think; The fact/suggestion/problem/danger was ...) and even text frames (e.g., In this

    paper we explore ...; Firstly ...; Secondly ...; Finally ...)

    In accordance with this taxonomy, lexical items are subdivided into five

    categories, based on their functions in a given language.

    This research will be focused on the learning of the first category of the

    taxonomy, Words, as single units, due to the fact that these are linked to

    vocabulary learning primarily.

    A common definition of word taken from Oxford Advanced Learners

    Dictionary of Current English (2000) is a single unit of language which

    means something that can be spoken or written.

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    By words, Hatch and Brown (1995) mean not only items consisting

    of one word, but also strings of words which together form one lexical

    item such as idioms or expressions which are distinctive characteristics of

    any language.


    What does it mean to know a word? Ur (1996), Cameron (2001) and

    Nation (2001) have discussed what it means to know a word. These authors

    state that there are three aspects of knowing vocabulary, which are

    commonly mentioned: form, meaning, and use. Form refers to spelling,

    pronunciation, and to word parts (i.e. prefixes and suffixes). Knowing

    the meaning of a word means knowing what object or idea it refers to. It

    also means knowing what other words are associated with it. Knowing

    the use of a word means knowing the grammatical patterns it occurs in,

    knowing what other words it occurs (i.e. collocates) with, and knowing

    which contexts (e.g. topics or situations) the word is used in. It can be

    deduced that what involves identifying a word is not only how to write or

    pronounce it, but how to use it properly, depending on the communicative

    intention involved. Making allowances for these three aspects could be

    thought as the first step to become a competent speaker in a particular




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    When presenting a new content, teachers should bear in mind that they

    have to study the form, meaning and use of words very carefully and the way

    they are presented to learners beforehand. The reason of the latter is that it

    is the first moment when learners are faced with these new words.




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