Vocabulary: 2nd edition

Authors: John Morgan and Mario Rinvolucri Components: Book for teachers Publisher: Oxford University Press Summary: Provides a wide range of fun, effective classroom activities for learning vocabulary that range in level from beginner to advanced. Review: Vocabulary aims to provide teachers with a wide range of activities not typically found in other vocabulary books, including […]
Reviewed for Teflnet by Joshua Antle

Authors: John Morgan and Mario Rinvolucri
Components: Book for teachers
Publisher: Oxford University Press

Summary: Provides a wide range of fun, effective classroom activities for learning vocabulary that range in level from beginner to advanced.

Review:
Vocabulary aims to provide teachers with a wide range of activities not typically found in other vocabulary books, including activities that are so fun that they would be enjoyable if the student were to do them in their native language.  It also tries to account for learner differences by using a variety of techniques to aid the learner.

This book contains 111 exercises divided into 11 chapters.  The chapters group the activities according to how you would use them in your class.  Some of the chapters are: pre-text activities, writing activities, words and the senses, word games, and using corpora and concordances.

This book is quite different from the other vocabulary books available today.  It dedicates an entire chapter to corpora and the benefits offered by them.  It views language as being largely phrasal as opposed to a collection of individual words.  It does not shy away from using the students’ mother tongue for language acquisition, and in fact has a chapter for activities of this type.  The authors believe that learning generally takes place through personal associations made by learners and words are also learned this way.

I was very impressed with this book.  I found that the majority of the activities could be used with very little preparation and were well labeled.  They could also be used with and adapted for different word lists and texts.  I thought the way the chapters were divided allowed the teacher to quickly find a suitable activity and also gave ideas on how to organize a vocabulary class.  The fact that there are so many different exercises gives the teacher plenty to choose from, and the book also helps the teacher experiment.  As I mentioned earlier, the activities are not typically found in other texts, and in fact at first glance I found some to be very unusual and was a bit hesitant to try them in class.  However, I did use many of them and was surprised with the success I had.

I really do not have any major complaints about this book.  A couple of the exercises did not work well with my students, but they were definitely in the minority.  It was much more common for me to go into class with a new activity, not sure how it would work, and have an excellent class.

This book would be a great resource for any teacher needing ideas on how to teach vocabulary.  Given the number of activities and how they are divided, I cannot imagine a teacher who would not learn something new.  Several of the activities have already become staples of mine.

Reviewed by Joshua Antle for TEFL.net January 2009

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