Teaching Students To Self-Study Academic Vocabulary

Erin Shaw Hernandez
What do you do?
How do you teach vocabulary in a…
 Reading class?
 Writing Class?
 Listening Class?
 Speaking Class?
 Content Class?
Vocabulary Learning
Vocabulary is not taught enough and too
important to overlook (Gardner, 2008)
 Teachers assume that students will get
vocabulary on their own, and
overestimate their students’
understanding (Folse, 2004)
 More than just knowing a definition.
What it means to know a word
From (Shaw, 2011; Nation, 2001)
What does vocabulary have to do
with a corpus?
Lots of WORDS
 Words in context
 Data-driven learning (DDL)
What can COCA do?
 Part of Speech
 Morphology
 Synonym
 Collocation
 Register
Data-driven learning
Training students to learn on their own
 Learn aspects of word knowledge on
their own
 Save time and resources
Data-driven learning
Example based, inductive learning, especially with
Increases learner autonomy (Boulton, 2009a)
Helps develop cognitive skills and allows for
individual learning styles (2009b)
Can help increase the depth and breadth of students’
vocabulary knowledge
Improve the teacher’s knowledge
Gives students a reference tool for answers to their
Emphasize different aspects of vocabulary
More than just concordance lines
Vocabulary and Corpora
Different activities for different skill levels
 Activities for a variety of skills
 Deepens student knowledge and memory of a
word by repeating exposure to it
 Perhaps not most effective for originally
learning words but better for practicing form
and use
 Another tool for teachers to use: not a fix-it-all
Framework for activities
Have a purpose
 Develop background knowledge on the
vocabulary aspect
 Have knowledge on how to perform the
 Provide a demonstration for students
 Balance guidance and independence
 Consider different learning styles
 Allow for induction
Framework for activities
Consider the length of the activity
Prepare materials ahead of time
Adapt the activity to their skill level and familiarity
 Teacher centered
 Materials centered
 Student centered (independent)
Adapt the activity to the purpose of the learning
 Demonstration vs. discovery
 Answering questions for individuals or a class
Recognize limitations
Find new applications
Scaffolded Approach
Use self-study worksheets to practice a
little bit at a time
 Introduction
 Part of Speech Patterns
 Correcting Prepositional Errors
Frequency Practice
Purpose: Help students identify which
words to learn
 Introduction to the vocabulary aspect
 Video for demonstration
 Teacher guided activity
 Have participants suggest searches on
 Recognize any limitations
 Finish for homework
Creating Materials for Self-Study
Choose words (such as the AWL)
 Generate essential word information
using wordandphrase.info
 Teach students how to use synonym,
collocate and register information
Creating Materials for Self-Study
Create a classroom list of words and
synonyms or collocates to practice
 Create practice worksheets for
synonyms or collocates
A few thoughts…
Whether taught with a corpus or without,
these aspects of vocabulary are
 Using a corpus has a small learning
curve; look for help
 Corpus-based activities can help
students learn to correct their own errors
 Corpora can help in creation of materials
for teachers
Other Corpus materials
Frequency dictionaries
 Corpora-based Learners’ dictionaries
 Corpus.byu.edu
 Wordandphrase.info
 Academic Vocabulary List