Explanation:
Words and ideas are stored in networks that are called schema - new words fall off unless they touch the preexisting schema and can attach themselves to that and then they also come with their own schema and so expansion takes place (Vygotsky, 1962).

  • More than just a list of words – high frequency, academic and low frequency groups of words
  • Important to teach lexical ‘chunks’ not just words on their own so that students start to understand the words in context and that helps with the grammar too (Lewis, 2002).
  • Subject specific vocabulary is important as a basis for understanding subject concepts

Justification:
  • Having the vocabulary tools is critical for both understanding new learning and expressing that learning in spoken and written contexts.
  • A majority of assessments in New Zealand Schools require students to be competent users of vocabulary tools.
  • One of the Key competencies in the New Zealand Curriculum: " Using language, symbols, and texts is about working with and making meaning of the codes in which knowledge is expressed " (Ministry of Education, 2007, P.14).




A slide show by Chris Lowman based on Lewis (1993)

Implications:


  • Vocabulary should be seen as more than just a list of words and can be categorised into high frequency, academic and low frequency groups of words.
  • It is important to teach lexical ‘chunks’ not just words on their own so that students start to understand the words in context and that helps with the grammar too (Lewis, 2002). An example to illustrate this would be teaching the way a director uses the film technique of close-up camera shots. All the italicized chunk needs to be taught so that students do not write about the camera closed up in their response to film essays as happened with one of my students.
  • Subject specific vocabulary is important as a basis for understanding subject concepts.



References:

Lewis, M. (1993). The Lexical approach. The state of ELT and a way forward. Boston USA: Thomson Heinle.

Lewis, M. (2002). Implementing the lexical approach. Putting theory into practice. Boston USA: Thomson Heinle.

Ministry of Education. (2007). The New Zealand curriculum. Wellington: Learning Media.

Vygotsky, L.S. (1962). Thought and language. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press