2. Vocabulary expansion
by Elaine Gallagher The single best and quickest way to have a view of someone’s linguistic intelligence is his/hers vocabulary. A composite of the […]
by Elaine Gallagher
The single best and quickest way to have a view of someone’s linguistic intelligence is his/hers vocabulary. A composite of the words they use, the nuances, the preciseness, the fluency and smoothness of speech gives a picture of the person speaking.
Please note that speaking with an accent is not part of this composite view. Accents are acceptable if, of course, the pronunciation is intelligible. Even within a country, such as the United States of America, there are various accents of English, depending on which section of the country you live. The same can be said of English accents within the United Kingdom, or between countries, such as differing English accents in the USA, Canada, India, the UK, and Australia.
The goal of vocabulary enhancement is to build FLUENCY and ACCURACY, based on the CLIL emphasis in second language acquisition.
CLIL = Content and Language Integrated Learning, is a philosophy, which emerged in 1994, from research in Europe, based on 30 years of studies on second language acquisition. CLIL supports the idea that we learn a language better by studying subjects in the language to be acquired.
The idea for the necessity of CLIL developed from the CEFR.
The CEFR is the Common European Framework of Reference, a scale to identify the communicative level of any language, to make levels easily understandable between countries. Gone are the unspecific, vague, ambiguous terms such as «advanced English speaker», or «80% French required for this job.» or «Fluency in English is required.»
Now, the result of much work by many people from many European countries, chaired by David Marsh in Finland, was publicized in 1994, and it specifies language levels, under varying circumstances, in all four skills.
BASIC: ENGLISH LEARNER = A1, A2,
INDEPENDENT ENGLISH USER = B1, B2,
ADVANCED ENGLISH USER = C1
PROFICIENT ENGLISH USER = C2
These are the six general descriptors (A 1 – C2) used to identify people’s language skills. A manual of about 260 pages (downloadable on Internet) explains in detail, the characteristics of each level in the basic skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Exams are readily available (Cambridge, Trinity, TOEFL, MATT, etc.) to determine a person’s language ability according to the CEFR scale, now in use internationally in most European countries, Mexico, South America, and Central America.
Book companies that are «with it» now are producing their language texts with a small circle of stars on the front cover ( a symbol of the European Union) with the CEFR number in the center of the circle, showing the book’s level…..such as A1 or B2, so there can be no ambiguity about a level. The editors decide which level to put on the book’s cover, but it must be decided based on guidelines in the CEFR guidebook explaining all levels.
Performing or participating in a play production meets that expectation.
Three other essential aspects of CLIL philosophy are:
(1) FLUENCY is more important than grammatical accuracy (which will come with time).
(2) ERRORS are a natural part of learning a language.
(3) LEARNING a language is a life-time project. Our language skills grow as we are presented with various experiences and activities in the language to be acquired.
CLIL philosophy, and its influence on educators for the past 15 years, has led us to see how important vocabulary is in the growth of our students’ language fluency. Therefore, vocabulary growth has to be part of every lesson. The pronunciation of a word, using it orally, writing a simple, teacher-given definition or drawing, and the word’s use regularly by the teacher, will help the students to assimilate the word in his/her long-term memory.
Each of the plays will be preceded by a suggested vocabulary list so the teacher will be able to plan well in-advance, by introducing, casually, and by modeling the word’s use for the students, so that by the time the play is to be a classroom activity, the students will know about the general vocabulary to be included in the play.
ALL the words on the vocabulary lists may not be included in the play. The words are provided to present a general guide, so teachers will know what level of vocabulary is expected at each of the three English levels at which the plays will be presented:
1. English Beginners (K, 1, 2) No CEFR or A-1 at Grade 2
2. Basic English Learners (2, 3, 4) A1- A2 on the CEFR scale
3. Basic + English Learners (4, 5, 6) A2 – B1 on the CEFR scale
Now that you understand the necessity for guiding your students to develop a broad vocabulary, let’s look at some more activities you can practice to get them on the road to acting or play producing.
Next: PART 3: Activities to Develop Fluency & Drama Skills