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Location: Osnabrueck, Lower Saxony, Germany

Thursday, April 28, 2005


Message: 8500 From: Robert M. Haines Received: Do Apr 28, 2005 6:39
Subject: Scott''s alter ego and the ''lexically challenged''
In the file Scott recently uploaded, I read: "But there are problems. Does 3000 words mean 3000 words, or 3000 word families? (A word family is a base word and its derivatives. So, the word family for frequency, for example, would include frequent, infrequent and frequently). And does 3000 words mean 3000 meanings? Clearly not, since many words in English have more than one meaning. Think of mean, for a start: don't be mean; the mean temperature; did you mean to? he plays a mean game of dominoes..etc" Eureka! That's the passage I thought I'd read in Teaching Vocabulary, and it makes a very good point about words vs. word families. I think it was in the Grammar and Lexis module I finished reading a while back. Scott then goes on to say "Nevertheless..." and explains why learning from lists might not be a bad idea. The last line of Scott's article reads: "Language learning, in other words, is essentially lexical." Reminds me of yesterday's class: students submitted letters to me for the teacher who's filling in next week. Nearly every student requested grammar in reply to my query about what they would like to learn with the sub. When I asked what they mean by 'grammar': Rules about writing. Rules about how to combine words. Rules about how to write words correctly. Spelling. After a brief discussion, it was agreed that spelling was not directly related to grammar (not sure that's entirely true though) and that grammar has a lot to do with words, that is the wrong word, a missing word, word order, a word's form... So it came about that I was able to underline 'word' in every sentence on the board and make the relationship between grammar and vocabulary more apparent. Fortunately, the students then gathered into groups to look over the grammar of some writing they'd done. Each small group received one paper at a time, deciding if the bits that didn't make sense to them were missing a word, had the wrong word, etc. from the list on the board. Rob [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


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