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International House Company Training Making Meaning Clear.
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A fable: In a recent upper-int class in an international financial and business services company, the students were reading a text about UK society. A student asked what the verb whinge means. The teacher replied: to complain. That afternoon, the attentive learner wrote back to an important British client: In reply to your whingeing letter of 29th January,,.. and was surprised to be sacked the next morning.
In the space of one week in observed lessons, I saw other students being taught that mugging = stealing, smuggling = stealing, loads = lots, tie the knot= get married, binge= have too much of something. What problems might learning these equivalences lead to?
In The Lexical Approach, Michael Lewis identifies no fewer than 10 aspects of meaning: connotational, factual & modal, discoursal, negotiated, top-down & bottom-up, contextual, pragmatic, collocational, differential and referential.
What are the common ways used in ELT to get across meaning of lexis and grammar?
Make a huge list.
Give a synonym/near synonym (wallaby? It’s like a small kangaroo).
Put it on a cline (boiling-hot-warm-tepid-cool-cold-freezing).
Go up a level (larch? it's a kind of tree).
Go down a level (dairy food? Butter, cheese & yoghurt are types of dairy food)
Go across a grammatical category (length? It's the noun for the adjective long)
Explain it via function. (corkscrew? It's what you use to open a bottle of wine)
Define it: (crowd: a lot of people together in the same space).
Ask another student to explain or define it.
Draw it on the board.
Take in a picture of it.
Do a demo with Cuisenaire rods.
Make the sound it makes (sheep, horse, hen, splash, drip, thunder, scream,..)
Bring one to the class (realia)
Point to one, if there's one handy.
Give them clues to guide them to it, including clear contexts.
Give them an example in a different context.
Ask them concept questions.
Use a monolingual dictionary to define it.
Translate it, using a bilingual dictionary.
Translate it, using the T as a dictionary/what it doesn't mean (false friend).
Have them guess what category of word it is and make an educated guess.
Work out the meaning from just the context.
Work out the meaning from Latinate root/cognate (true friend).
Work out the meaning from other related English words.
Do a line-matching exercise with mini-definition or translation.
Do a multi-choice matching exercise with definitions or translations.
Say "Look it up for homework" (ie: Justgo home, will you?).
Which of the above ways would you use to make clear the meaning of the words in italics?
How concise and precise can you make explanations for the following?
Imagine your class audience is B1.2/B2.1
Practise in groups. Give constructive feedback.
eg: I may have to leave early today.
CQ1: Is there a possibility that I need to go before the normal time today?(Yes)
CQ2: Is it sure that this will happen?(No).
You've got it.
Devise concept questions to delimit meaning for the following
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