It took me 2.5 hours to familiarize with the course structure, Blackboard, all requirements, the syllabus, and initial tutorials. At first I thought this will be the course to storyboard a piece of instruction which I want to develop, but it turned out it should be enhancement of the existing instructional unit.

Because I’m very interested in language instruction, I want to take a look at a unit of teaching in our Spanish classes at Syracuse University. In particular, I’m interested in the vocabulary instruction. The way it was done in the course was a list of vocabulary words at the beginning and end of the chapter.


Picture. Vocab list about personal relationships

This approach implies that each word in a language has only one equivalent in another language, which simply is not true. Polysemy, or the multitude of meanings for a word, means that a certain meaning of a word is realized in a particular context. Hence, a better approach is to learn a (new) word in a context.

There is a methodology of learning vocabulary which is not widely used these days but that was developed in the 1990s. Michael Lewis introduced the lexical approach. His idea is very simple: new vocabulary should be learned in phrases. Learning vocab this way allows to learn grammar in addition to the words. But he does not say much about how to work with the vocabulary using this approach. So, my idea is to design activities that will work with activating vocabulary in context through activities such as translations, peer interactions, and reflections. His approach is endorsed by AJ Hoge, a director of Effortless English, an online instructor: He thinks that this is rule number one in learning a foreign language—learning phrases and not individual words.

AJ Hoge Rule #1: Learn phrases


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