学号: 1120410102


学 院 名 称: 专 业 名 称: 年 级 班 别: 姓 名:

江苏教育学院 英语教育 11 级转本(3 )班 丁明彤 汪霖

指 导 教 师:

2013 年 5 月

On English Vocabulary Teaching in Primary School

A Dissertation Submitted to Department of Foreign Language Jiangsu Institute of Education in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts

By Ding Mingtong Supervisor:

Wang Lin

May 5, 2013


I want to express my appreciation to many who supported my efforts in writing this dissertation during the past few months. I am greatly indebted to Prof. Wang, who helped me through the stages of the writing of this thesis. Without her knowledge, perceptiveness, cracking-of-the-whip and illuminating instruction, I would never have finished this paper. Hearty thanks should also be given to my friends Xu Ting and Yang Yujie. Throughout my thesis-writing period, they provide sound advice, good company, and lots of excellent ideas. Their understanding and personal guidance have provided a good basis for the present thesis. Special thanks should be extended to my family, particularly my Mum and Dad. Thank you for your loving consideration and great confidence in me all through these years.



On English Vocabulary Teaching in Primary School
词汇是语言的基础与核心。 词汇的教与学一直是困扰学生和老师的主要问题 之一。小学英语词汇教学中过分强调死记硬背单词的读音、意义而忽略了视觉、 情境、肢体等在学习词汇过程中的重要性;许多小学生在学习英语词汇方面缺乏 兴趣和有效性。 本文就小学英语词汇的教授和学习过程中存在的一些问题加以讨 论并给出一些相应的教学方法,使小学生能有效地掌握更多的基本词汇。

关键词: 小学英语 词汇教学 教学方法




Words are the foundation and core of a language. Vocabulary teaching and learning is always a big problem, which confuses students and teachers. Teachers in the primary school, emphasize the pronunciation and meaning of English vocabularies, but ignore the importance of vision, situation, body and so on in the vocabulary teaching; many primary school students have little interest in learning vocabularies. To improve the learning efficiency, some teaching methods are provided to solve the problems in vocabulary teaching and learning.

Keywords: primary school English; vocabulary teaching; teaching methods



Introduction……..……………………………………………………1 Ⅰ Problems in English vocabulary teaching…......................................1 1. The monotonous teaching method……………………………………1 2. Lack of key points………………………………...………………….3 3. Lack of word associations…….....…...………………………………3 ⅡProblems in English vocabulary learning..........................................4 1. Difficulty in memorizing vocabularies…………………………….....4 2. Difficulty in pronouncing and spelling words…………………......... 5 3. Lack of ability to use vocabularies………..………………………….6 ⅢWays of English vocabulary teaching.................................................8 1. Visual teaching method ………………………...………………….…8 2. Situational teaching method………………………………………….9 3. Communicative teaching method………………………………...…10 4. Total Physical Response teaching method………………………..…12 Conclusion.............................................................................................14 References………………………………………………………….….14



With the rapid development of our society, English is winding its way into our daily life as an international language. Then, English vocabulary learning and teaching is becoming more and more important. There are four aspects of vocabulary teaching: word meaning, pronunciation and spelling, use and usage, and vocabulary strategies. Vocabulary, as a core component in learning English, is the basic material of a language. Wilkins D.A. (1972), a famous scholar, said, “Without grammar, very little can be conveyed; without vocabulary, nothing can be conveyed (111).” McCarthy(1990)also said more directly that no matter how well one learner masters the grammar or no matter how beautiful he sounds, without rich words to express himself , communication in a foreign language can not happen in a meaningful way. From the above remarks, we can see how important vocabulary study is. The following parts will analyze from several aspects the problems in primary school English teaching and learning.

ⅠProblems in English vocabulary teaching 1. The monotonous teaching method
As we all know, there is always the situation that teachers stand on



the platform, talking and talking. Students sit on the chairs, writing and writing. The traditional English vocabulary teaching is the so-called “Duck-stuffing”. Students just act as receivers of knowledge. This kind of teaching greatly affects students’ learning initiative. As a result, students can not achieve satisfactory learning effect on English vocabulary learning. Many students lose interest in learning English vocabularies even eventually completely give up English learning. During the previous English teaching, the monotonous teaching of English vocabulary and the monotonous explanation is a major drawback of the common English vocabulary teaching. However, little attention is paid to English vocabulary teaching in today’s primary schools. Most English teachers still take the traditional vocabulary teaching procedures. They just show students the pronunciation, common structure and different meanings and usages. General performance in traditional English vocabulary teaching is as follows. Firstly, teachers present some new words on the blackboard. Secondly, teachers teach students how to pronounce them. Thirdly, teachers go on to explain the meanings of the words one by one. Fourthly, students make sentences with new words and copy the new words after class. Finally, teachers check the students through dictation. So a question arises that students can memorize the meaning of the new words but they do not know how to use them properly.


2. Lack of key point
Some teachers teach students vocabularies without an emphasis on the key point. Every word in the text is to be mastered. As a result, the burden on students is becoming rather heavy. Little by little, students disgust vocabulary studying and abandon English learning. In fact, the procedure of vocabulary teaching proceeds from the simple to the complex. Some vocabularies need to be recognized, while others need to be used skillfully. For the latter, teachers should spend more time teaching students how to use the vocabularies.

3. Lack of word association
“As regards vocabulary, it is composed of the inner knowledge and the outer knowledge, just like people have inner mind and hearts. The inner knowledge of the vocabulary includes pronunciation, spelling and meaning.”(Liu Bing, 2007). Teachers should try their best to find out the suitable ways to help students master the inner and outer knowledge of the vocabulary, because suitable ways applied can not only save time but also help students learn new vocabulary more effectively. However, some methods in vocabulary teaching are out-of-date. Teachers do not associate the vocabulary with the context. In many cases, students are asked to pick out all the new words from the context, highlight them, list them on the paper and look them up in the dictionary for the Chinese meanings. They know nothing


about the word associations in the language. Take the word “dragon” for example. Dragons are legendary creatures in Chinese mythology and folklore. A dragon is typically portrayed as long, scaled, serpentine creature with four legs. It is the symbol of the Chinese nation, the mascot of Chinese nation and the most important cultural image of Chinese nation. In contrast, in the western culture, a dragon is considered as a kind of monster. As a result, the association between words is ignored. This example indicates that language use is heavily tinted with its culture. If students are only taught the dictionary meaning, they may be isolated from the culture. So in the course of English vocabulary teaching teachers should permeate the cultural background knowledge.

ⅡProblems in English vocabulary learning 1. Difficulty in memorizing vocabularies
Memory work of English vocabularies is a painful task. The reason why students have difficulties in memorizing English vocabularies is that they get incorrect practice. According to the precepts of forgetting curve, the knowledge which is not often used is easily forgotten, for there are differences between the English language and the mother tongue, when students spend a lot of time memorizing the separate words, the effect is unsatisfactory. Several incorrect learning methods are involved as


follows. Firstly, due to the negative transfer of mother tongue, there is a difficulty in mastering the pronunciation and phonetic form of the English vocabularies. As a result, it is difficult for primary school students to master the spelling skills. Secondly, during English vocabulary teaching in primary school, due to some objective limitations, such as far from the certain context and cultural background of the English-speaking countries, students can not understand or use vocabularies properly. At last, most of the students are used to acquiring knowledge passively in class. They rely on their textbooks very much, and their self-learning ability is rather weak. In this case, the students can not remember vocabularies easily. What is more, some teachers do not instruct the students how to do it effectively. Therefore, students spend much time memorizing vocabularies but in vain.

2. Difficulty in pronouncing words
The Teaching of pronunciation should focus on the students’ ability to identify and produce English sounds themselves. Students should not be led to focus on reading and writing phonetic transcripts of words, especially for young students, because phonetic transcripts are more abstract and less meaningful.



Phonetic rules regarding what sounds a letter or a cluster of letters should be pronounced and should be introduced at a suitable stage and they should be avoided at the beginning stage, especially for young learners. Stress and intonation should be taught from the very beginning. Learners of English as a foreign language cannot acquire native-like English pronunciation, except those who start learning English at a very young age. Furthermore, there are not few English teachers whose

pronunciation is poor, especially in countryside school. Teachers' pronunciation and intonation are far from the standard pronunciation. Some schools couldn't provide training opportunities for teachers. Also many families do not play a role in children’s study. So students couldn't practice reading accurately. Some of them note the pronunciation with Chinese pinyin in order to not forgetting the sounds. Finally, their pronunciation is poorer and poorer.

3. Lack of the ability to use vocabulary
There are two kinds of abilities to use vocabulary: speaking ability. and writing ability. In accordance with the current examination system, most of the teachers like to provide the students with a lot of knowledge, such as words, phrases, grammar, usages and so on. They are focusing these things, especially on the grammar. The students have not enough time


and almost no opportunity to speak English. When trained in the class, the students often come to a lot of difficulties. In such an environment the students’ ability to use vocabulary is seriously affected. What is more, many teachers’ pronunciation and intonation are not accurate. Their oral English is not fluent and they can not express themselves freely in English during the teaching process. This condition to train the students’ oral English ability is very disadvantageous. One of the main reasons why students have poor writing ability is that they lack initiative .Many students are afraid of English writing in a class. English writing is really a difficult job for students.While writing, they have to consider a lot of factors including differences between English and Chinese .Although students think speaking is also difficult, they would rather speak in English than write in English. Once one of my students said to me," Miss Chen, I don't know how to write and what to write .I can not remember words and phrases and do not know how to use words or phrases in the correct order .I really get tired of writing.” Thus, most students do not write articles in English initiatively unless teachers ask them to. As a matter of a fact, the application of the language is a skill, which depends on lots of practice. And practice makes perfect. What is more, the process of mastering a skill needs a lot of time, during which it is no doubt that the learners will meet many difficulties. As long as learners try


to overcome the difficulties, they will succeed.

ⅢWays of English vocabulary teaching 1. Visual teaching method
Visual teaching method is the procedure that by using the demonstrations, teaching aids, demo model, VCR and so on, make students set up an active image of the content. The visual teach can stimulate various sensory memories like the sense of sight, hearing, touching and so on, and improve the students’ physical memories in multiple functions and all directions. Some methods are given as follows. Firstly, some teaching aids can be used. Taking the objects to the whole class is audio-visual and easy-taking. When showing the objects to students, teachers should try to speak English. Students will conjoin what the teachers said to the objects and have an impression in their mind. Students in Grade one or two are relatively younger, so they divert their attention from the class easily. They are active, so they easily accept the vivid content in class. For example, when teaching the word “pen”, teachers can hold a pen to draw students’ attention, speaking out “pen” as showing it. There is no need to explain the Chinese meaning. Using this kind of method, students can be fully trained and their interests are aroused. At the same time, the voice and the tone have been improved. When teaching some words as “car, house, and river”, teachers can use


pictures. As a result, when students see the real things, they can recite the words immediately. So secondly, teachers can use pictures which can turn abstract and complex things visualized. Pictures contain lots of information and knowledge. What is more, it is easy to get pictures. Because some objects are not convenient to carry, using pictures or drawing a simple picture is a better choice. As long as the pictures can be made skillfully and beautifully, it is no doubt that it can attract the students’ attention and achieve twice the result with half the effort. Finally, body language as one of communicative ways plays an important role in human’s activities. Students’ psychology and the cognitive rules have decided the possibility of using body language which plays an auxiliary role in English class. Body language can be used to convey ideas. For example, students can understand these words “smile and cry” by using facial performance, and know these words “jump, jog, and walk” by acting them. It is also helps to organize teaching and improve the relationship between teachers and students in English class.

2. Situational teaching method
Situational teaching method means creating and using many kinds of scenes or concrete situation to make students immerse themselves in the oral English environment. This method makes students have a direct contact with English-speaking countries’ culture, and it is to motivate the


students’ emotion. Make them learn actively and happily. By situational teaching method, we find that the key to English vocabulary teaching is to grasp the context. The role that the context plays in the understanding the word meaning can not be taken by any dictionary. The students and teachers should put themselves into the “real” scene. Gradually, they accumulate the perceptual knowledge of English and then develop the sensibility of this language, thus, to achieve the purpose of grasping vocabulary. Teachers can create a certain situation for students to train. The range of imitating a certain situation is very large such as: material presents situation. Teachers can use some real things such as apple, orange, banana to present the fruits’ names or use some materials of the classroom to present some vocabulary such door, window, desk and so on. Life presents situation. Teacher can create a life situation to present what a shopkeeper and customer are. There will be two students; one is to act a shopkeeper while the other acts as a customer in a shop.

3. Communicative teaching method
As a relatively new method, the teaching results will be more satisfactory than the traditional ones. English teachers who are interested in it may conduct further research to work out a better way in English vocabulary teaching. This method focuses on the communicative


functions of language and can be explained in following words: in classroom activities students are encouraged to use the new words to express them, to transmit and receive thoughts, ideas and feelings. In other words, students are encouraged to use new vocabularies to achieve certain communicative functions rather than to demonstrate his knowledge of linguistic rules. The advantage of this kind of method is that it helps to build up students’ self-esteem. Under this approach, teachers are treated more as consultants than as supervisors. In most cases, they are friends of students. Teachers will give students timely help whenever they meet problems. The students no longer feel arduous or anxious in class; instead, they will recover their confidence in getting it. The communicative approach is an effective teaching method, which helps the students to develop the ability to use new words practically. In specific language environment, it requires the students to communicate each other with the words they are learning. Communicative approach, on one hand, emphasizes teaching the students the real language; on the other hand, emphasizes that the students are the hubs of the class. The teacher should just organize and guide the students to have the communicative activities. From some aspects, we can say in the communicative activity, the process is more important than the result. So the teacher must arouse the students’ enthusiasm to the rein of their


subjective initiative completely. Here are some useful activities applicable in communicative classroom practice for teaching vocabulary (Gairns and Redman, 1986; Carter and McCarthy1988; Coady and Huckin,2001 ) Firstly, vocabulary instruction can be handled by using authentic reading texts. In this case, students are asked to focus on key words in a text, or to guess from the context, or to predict vocabulary. By reading, students can make sense of the meanings of vocabulary. Secondly, speaking activities like role-play and story-telling can act as a medium for teaching vocabulary. For example, students may dramatize supermarket enquires different roles assigned to them, and focus on the words given in advance.

4. Total Physical Response teaching method
Total physical by response (TPR) James Asher, is a a language-teaching professor emeritus

method developed

of psychology at San JoséState University. It is based on the coordination of language and physical movement. In TPR, instructors give commands to students in the target language, and students respond with whole-body actions. The method is an example of the comprehension approach to language teaching. Listening serves a dual purpose; it is both a means of understanding messages in the language being learned, and a means of


learning the structure of the language itself. Grammar is not taught explicitly, but is induced from the language input. In TPR method, students can learn vocabulary connected with actions such as smile, chop, headache, wriggle, jump and so on. In the classroom the teacher plays the role of parent. She starts by saying a word “walk” and demonstrating an action. The teacher then says the command and the students all do the action. After repeating a few times, it is possible to extend this by asking the students to repeat the word as they do the action. When they feel confident with the word or phrase you can then ask the students to direct each other or the whole class. It is more effective if the students are standing in a circle around the teacher and you can even encourage them to walk around as they do the action. And a good TPR way of learning and practicing letters and spelling is to “write” the letter/ word on someone’s back with your finger. The person who was “written” on should then shout out the word, slap the right flashcard, write the word, or draw it on the next person’s back (in a Chinese Whispers kind of way). “Writing” with a pen or pencil rather than a finger is actually better, as it practices gripping that writing tool and is easier to feel through your back. However, make sure they leave the cap on the pen or turn the pencil round so that it doesn’t hurt their partner or draw on their clothes.


In short, vocabulary teaching is not an isolated activity. It ought to be closely connected with the teaching of grammar and phonetics. Vocabulary teaching is also cooperation between teachers and students. Teachers instruct students some essential ways for vocabulary learning. And students find some proper ways to enlarge their vocabulary. Of course, the purpose of English vocabulary teaching is to help students develop the abilities of using English for communication and of acquiring knowledge in the future. We should continuously improve teaching methods, attach importance to vocabulary teaching.

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