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Teaching and Learning English Vocabulary


The Mental Lexicon and L2 Vocabulary


Fall 2012

Instructor: Dr. Sank Gyula

Wednesday 18-19.40 Main bld. 121.


Office: Main Bld. 11.

Seminar, 2 hrs, graded,

Office hours: Wednesday 15-16,

Friday 10-11.

For full-time 2nd year M.A in

English Language Teaching students

Tel.: 512900/23089

Email: sanko.gyula@arts.unideb.hu______________________________________________________________________COURSE DESCRIPTION AND AIMS:

The aim of the course is to familiarize students with current issues and experimental findings of psycholinguistic research related to the organization and function of the L2 mental lexicon as well as with some of the latest research results concerning the learning and teaching of L2 vocabulary. The following questions will be addressed: How is our mental lexicon organized? How is semantic and formal knowledge represented, and how can we access lexical information? How does lexical memory work, and what intralingual issues may represent a challenge in the memorization of L2 vocabulary? The course will offer a survey of research into the learners lexical development with special regard to the role of form and meaning in the function of the mental lexicon. The application of new technologies in L2 vocabulary acquisition will also be discussed. The course comprises seminar input with active participation in class discussions. Micro-teaching practice and project work are also expected of all students to ensure maximum coverage of the syllabus.


Attendence and active participation in class discussions are expected of all students. In order to accomplish the course successfully, each student will be requested to do all of the following three tasks:

1. Oral presentation

Each participant is expected to give 2-3 (PowerPoint supported) presentations of 15-20 minutes each on a topic chosen by him/her from the readings assigned on a weekly basis (see the detailed course schedule on my supplementary materials webpage).

2. Electronic summary of presentations

Besides presenting the chosen material in an easily comprehensible and preferably interesting, interactive way (NOT reading it out!) in class, students will be asked to prepare easy-to-follow summaries on their chosen topics for their peers. These summaries will be emailed to the course teacher, who will post them on his supplemetary meterials page, thus making them available for all the group members.

Format of electronic summaries:

1. Length: 1-3 pages

2. Font type: Times New Roman 12 (1.5 spacing)

3. Students name in the top left corner

4. Authors name and the full title of the source at the top of the page centralized

5. File name: authors last name_first few words of the title (e.g. Oxford_Language Learning Strategies)

3. Written test

On the basis of the materials covered students will write a comprehensive test in the last but one lesson of the course.


Assessment will be based on:

a) quality of the oral presentations

(presentation, content and linguistic well-formedness) 30 %

b) quality of the summaries prepared for peers.

(presentation, content and linguistic well-formedness) 30 %

c) end-term test result

40 %

of the final grade.

It is important to meet the deadline/schedule for presentations. Any extensions must be negotiated with the instructor in advance in person. Late work will be penalised.

Grades will be granted as

90% up: excellent; 80% up: good; 70% up: average; 60% up: poor, below 60%: fail.


Aitchison, J. (1987). Words in the Mind: An Introduction to the Mental Lexicon.

Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Allen, V. F. (1983). Techniques in Teaching Vocabulary. OUP.

Bonin, P. (Ed.) (2004). Mental Lexicon: Some Words to Talk About Words. Hauppaue, N.Y.:

Nova Science Publishers.

Bowen, T., & Marks, J. (1994). Inside Teaching. Heinemann. Ch. 7. Whats in a

word? Some approaches to teaching, learning and remembering vocabulary, pp 90-106.

Carter, R., & Mc Carthy, M: (1988).Vocabulary and Language Teaching. Longman

Gairns R., & Redman S. (1986). Working with Words, CUP,

Harmer, J. (1991). The Practice of English Language Teaching. Longman. Ch. 9

Teaching vocabulary, pp. 153-180.

Lewis, M. (1993). The Lexical Approach, LTP.

McCarthy M. (1990) Vocabulary, OUP,

Morgan, J., & Rinvolucri, M. (1986). Vocabulary. OUP.

Nation, I. S. P. (2001). Learning Vocabulary in Another Language. CUP.

Oxford, R. L. (1990). Language Learning Strategies. Boston: Heinle & Heinle. Ch. 3.

Applying memory strategies to the four language skills. pp. 58-69..

Read, J. (2000). Assessing Vocabulary. CUP.

Schmitt, N. & McCarthy (Eds.) (1997). Vocabulary: Description, Acquisition and

Scrivener, J. (1994). Learning Teaching. CUP. Ch. 5. Teaching Vocabulary, pp. 73-

92. Pedagogy. CUP.

Sharifian, F. (2002). Memory Enhancement in Language Pedagogy: Implications from

Cognitive Research. {online} TESL-EJ, 6(2). September 2002. Located at: http://tesl-ej.org/ej22/a2.html.

Singleton, D. (1999). Exploring the Second Language Mental Lexicon. CUP.

Taylor, L. (1992). Vocabulary in Action. Prentice Hall.

Ur, P. (1996). A Course in Language Teaching. CUP. Ch. 5. Teaching Vocabulary,

pp. 60-74.

Watcyn-Jones, P. (1993). Vocabulary Games and Activities. Penguin.

Wolter, B. (2001). Comparing the L1 and L2 Mental Lexicon: A Depth of

Individual Word Knowledge Model. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 23, 41-69.

Course Content and Schedule



Lesson topic


Sept. 19.

Popular myths about vocabulary acquisition;

How to give an effective presentation?


Sept. 26.

What does it mean to know a word? ;

Which words and how many words to teach? - selecting and organizing vocabulary


Oct. 03.

Ways of vocabulary teaching


Oct. 10.

The role of context in vocabulary learning. Incidental and intentional vocabulary learning


Oct. 17.



Oct. 24.

What makes a word easy or difficult to learn?

The Influence of L1 vocabulary on L2 vocabulary learning


Oct. 31.

Memory processes in vocabulary acquisition


Nov. 07.

The mental lexicon


Nov. 14.

Strategies for learning and remembering vocabulary


Nov. 21.

New technologies in vocabulary acquisition


Nov. 28.

The role of dictionaries in vocabulary learning and teaching

Traditional vs. electronic dictionaries;


Dec. 05.

Testing vocabulary


Dec. 12.

End-of-the-term test


Dec. 19.

Summing up, assessing students work, evaluating the course.