How to deal with vocabulary in reading texts

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How to deal with vocabulary in reading texts

Unread postby ngoclinh » 08 Jul 2007, 10:35

Hi Lucy,
I'm writing in again with a question related to reading. In my class, I often give students extra reading material of the same topic as in the textbook to develop both their reading skills and their vocabulary. More importantly, I want them to be exposed to the target language as much as possible. Let me give you an example. This week, we work with the topic "Personality" and I give them two extra reading texts of the same topic accordingly. However, a few problems arise and I don't know how to deal with them. All the reading texts are followed by different tasks and they are by no means too difficult for the students. Yet, there are many new words in the text related to personality and the students in stead of trying to complete the tasks start finding out the meaning of new words. I told them that those words they can work out their meaning later when they have finished the tasks, and that those words do not affect their understanding of the texts. But my students just wouldn't listen to me. they keep asking me the meaning of all the new words. So even though I don't want I still end up explaining the meaning of all the new words in their native language (Vietnamese). I fell really bad about that.So what is your advice to me? How should I deal with words that are not central to the understanding of the text, and how can I convince my students that understanding a text doesn't mean to understand every single word.
I have one more question. I also ask my students to do extensive reading outside the class but I don't know how monitor what they do outside class. I want to make sure that they do read outside the class and I want to monitor their progress. Do you have any ideas on that?
Thanks so much
Hope to hear from you soon.
ngoclinh
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Guessing the meaning of words in context

Unread postby Lucy » 09 Jul 2007, 18:44

Dear Ngoclinh,

As you have asked 2 questions, I’ll answer them in 2 separate postings.

To deal with the vocabulary question, you could give you students a text with the unknown or difficult words blanked out or crossed out. By doing this, the students just don’t see the words; they won’t know what to look up in the dictionary or what to ask.

It’s important to train students in how to deal with unknown words. You could spend some time in class showing them how to do this. You could take a sentence with a nonsense word and ask them to guess the meaning.

For example: Mr Jones, came home, walked into the kitchen and put his books on the mosty.

Ask students questions such as:
“is mosty a noun, verb, adjective….?”
Where can you find a mosty? (In the home, in the kitchen).
Can you guess what category a mosty belongs to? (In this sentence, mosty is probably a piece of furniture).
Think about when you go home, where do you place your books? On the table, on a chair.

Explain to them that in order to understand the sentence, it is enough to know that a mosty is a piece of furniture found in a kitchen. As you rightly say, students can guess this from context.

Do three or four examples together as a whole class then ask students to work in pairs on other sentences containing nonsense words. If you find that your students are asking about the nonsense words, stop what you are doing and tell them all to look the words up in their dictionaries. When they realise that the words aren’t there, they’ll understand that they need to use other strategies to work out the meanings. Do some feedback as a whole class and ask students what they think the words mean and how they came to that conclusion.

In later lessons, when you work on a text, you can tell your students that they can look up 6 words (for example) in their dictionaries. Tell them to go through the text and to decide carefully which words they would like to look up. This will encourage them to decide which words they can guess from context and which are more difficult to deduce and require the use of a dictionary.

Kind regards,

Lucy
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Lucy
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Extensive reading

Unread postby Lucy » 21 Jul 2007, 18:45

Dear Ngoclinh,

Extensive reading is actually a tricky area to check on. It’s difficult to know how much time students spend on it outside the classroom.

In class, you can ask them to talk about what they’ve been reading or to write a paragraph or two about the book.. This will give you an indication: if they’re unable to describe the book, they probably haven’t been reading it. You can ask them what new language they’ve learnt from the book. Finally, you’ll see how much progress they’ve made if you do extensive reading in class.

Best wishes,

Lucy
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Lucy
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