FHNW

LN FD 2.4 English

Gianluca Schiliro, Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz

As part of the Leistungsnachweis in «Fachdidaktik English 2.4 - Responding to di-versity and assessing competency” this presentation discusses following research question:

How can English learners overcome the fear of making mistakes so that they can make use of their passive vocabulary?

Already young learners face the struggle of being able to understand a wide range of vocabulary in reading and listening based tasks, but as soon as it comes to writ-ing or speaking orientated tasks, they fear to make use of their actual knowledge. This huge gap between using passive and active vocabulary is mainly based on the challenging nature of vocabulary learning, where no rules could help to memorize a word. In addition, low self-esteem and the fear of making mistakes won’t make the learning process any easier. But also, the way of teaching in class affects this trend significantly (Azadeh, 2010, S. 42). For a long time, vocabulary learning had been based on passive exercises and ex-cathedra teaching had been the only way of teaching. Only recently things have started to change. Teachers have started to use different teaching techniques and are now trying to offer different learning strategies and learning tasks which individually address to the students’ language level (ebd.). Besides the attempt to satisfy the modern belief of heterogeneity, there are also some general facts to help young learners make use of their passive vocabu-lary. First and foremost, practicing different ways of communication is the most effi-cient way to get foreign language learners to talk with no restraint. Discussions, role plays, games or presentations are only a few forms to get in touch with the spoken English word (A’lipouri, 2010, S. 159). In addition to the communicative language teaching, the keyword-semantic strategy also helps with the short- and long-term memory, keeping a word in mind and always ready to use it. When learning a new word, students receive a keyword, two example sentences and a question requiring the new word in the answer (Muhamad & Kiely, 2018, S. 45). Like that, they do not only learn to understand the word passively, but also use it actively.