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Strategies for Teaching Vocabulary in the Elementary and Intermediate Italian Classroom
by Frank Nuessel, Caterina Cicogna
Strategies for Teaching Vocabulary in the Elementary and Intermediate Italian Classroom
Frank Nuessel, Caterina Cicogna
Updated: January 4th, 2013
Strategies for Teaching Vocabulary in the Elementaru and In termed iate Ita6an Classroom
n his important monograph on first- and second-language lexical acquisition, Carter observed that "for many years vocabulary has been the poor relation of language teaching" (Vocabulary: Applied Lin- guistic Perspectives 145). In recent years, however, this domain of lan- guage learning has received ever-increasing attention from second- language teaching scholars, especially from English as a Second Lan- guage specialists. l In this regard, Maiguashca correctly observes that "research on vocabulary teaching and learning with ESL has tended to move at a particularly fast pace and in very exciting ways. In other words, ESL seems to be at the cutting edge in this area and, as such, likely to influence developments in other languages as well." In the realm of specific languages, various studies on lexical acquisition are a~ailable.~
Likewise, in the area of general strategies for second-lan- guage vocabulary enhancement, several additional studies also merit ~itation.~
Control of the lexicon involves two specific domains. On the one hand, this aptitude refers to the student's ability to decode meanings contextually. On the other hand, lexical command alludes to the stu- dent's ability to encode specific lexical items. The former deals with the "receptive" skills (reading and listening), while the latter concerns the "productive" skills (writing and speaking). In this regard, Carter has pointed out that "a learner's active/productive vocabulary is al- ways smaller than his or her passive/receptive vocabulary" (Vocabul- ary: Applied Linguistic Perspectives 169). The latter statement refers to the basic issue of lexical control and usage versus the mere recogni- tion of words. The actual production of specific vocabulary items needed for speech or writing tasks appears to be a more demanding objective than the passive ability to recognize meanings of new lexical items.4
It is perhaps not unfair to say that the traditional notion of second- language vocabulary views this aspect of language as lists of words consigned to the end of the chapter of a pedagogical grammar to be committed to memory by the student through some unclearly delin- eated procedure. This conventional dictionary approach to vocabulary
ITALICA Volume 71 Number 4 (1994)
fails to convey the fact that words belong to semantically-related fields (weather, time, kinship terminology, colors, and so f~rth).~ Danesi has captured this significant instructional fact by creating a very pedagogically useful bilingual (English-Italian) dictionary of Ital- ian vocabulary that is conceptually- and semantically-based rather than alphabetically construed.
Vocabulary items may have different lexical realizations according to the grammatical functions that specific words possess within the context of a sentence (noun, adjective, verb, adverb, etc.). These syn- tactic relationships are often specified through certain formal proper- ties of lexical items. As a result, knowledge and usage of productive word-formation or morphological processes commonly called inflec- tional morphology, as well as the less productive and sometimes id- iosyncratic processes known as derivational morphology, play a cru- cial role in lexical control and management.7
In this article, we intend to discuss several strategies for enhancing the acquisition of vocabulary in first- and second-year Italian courses. Part one will review briefly the sizeable corpus of extant research on second-language vocabulary acquisition/learning and current methodological strategies for teaching lexical items in the classroom. Part two will incorporate the practical implications of Danesi's model of neurological bimodality as a desirable approach to vocabulary ac- quisition. Part three will discuss a variety of techniques for vocabulary elicitation designed to focus on meaning and lexical relatedness rather than the arbitrary mnemonic procedures frequently implied in elementary and intermediate textbooks. Part four will provide specific examples of these techniques so that the Italian instructor may begin to incorporate these strategies immediately. The final part will allude briefly to assessment techniques for these proposals.
Theory and Methodology
Prior to a discussion of the practical strategies that we have devel- oped for vocabulary reinforcement in Italian, it is appropriate to dis- cuss briefly the extant research on vocabulary acquisition and as- sumptions of certain current methodologies relative to the learning of lexical items. In this section, we will address some of the pertinent is- sues: core vocabulary, idiomatic and metaphoric usage, acquisition/ learning strategies, teaching methodology and vocabulary, teaching procedures, and dictionary usage.
Core Vocabulary. The notion that students need to learn a basic, or core vocabulary of lexical items is a common ass~m~tion.~
The con- cept of a core vocabulary implies that certain words are more essential to language usage than others by virtue of factors such as frequency,
relevance, function, and so forth. In the case of English, Carter alludes
to a study by Stubbs when he says that "core words will not normally
include loan-words, words with unstable pronunciations and spel-
lings or foreign plurals and spellings and will normally be mono-
rather than polymorphic" (43).At this stage, suffice it to say that a
non-controversial definition of core vocabulary has not yet been
achieved. Further research in this domain may ultimately reveal such
a basic lexical inventory. A core lexicon would almost certainly in-
clude many of the items included in Danesi's pedagogical dictionary
(see his Italian Vocabulary).
Idioms and Metaphors. One element of a core vocabulary that re-
quires much more extensive research is idiomatic and metaphorical
usage of vocabulary words.9 Within these contexts, basic lexical items
are transformed into secondary meanings which may or may not be
related to the original denotation of the word. Idiomatic usage refers
to strings of words which have a literal meaning which acquire an of-
ten unrelated secondary meaning. In many cases, the etymology of
these idioms can be traced to an unrecollected metaphorical meaning.
Another important aspect of the lexicon is metaphorical language.
For Danesi, the development of a basic metaphoric competence is an
essential prerequisite for true proficiency in a language ("Develop-
ment of Metaphorical Competence" 8). Metaphorical competence
refers to notions developed by Lakoff and ~0hnson.l~
This view of language means that people conceptualize their reality by structuring abstract notions in terms of more concrete elements. Thus, in the English metaphorical construct TIME IS MONEY (conventionally pre- sented in upper case text, Lakoff and Johnson 7-8) a certain basic vo- cabulary related to money (save, waste, give, cost, invest, lose, budget, and so forth) is required of the speaker in order to engage in speech that utilizes this metaphorical commonplace. Such metaphorical usage 'may also form the point of departure for the discussion of culturally
distinct conceptualizations of reality.
AcquisitionlLearning Strategies. With regard to vocabulary acquisi-
tion and learning, Cook correctly observes that "the problem lies not
in just learning L2 words, but also in remembering them" (40).Re
search in the domain of vocabulary acquisition suggests that words
are better retained if their presentation is restricted to one or two pre-
l Likewise, lexical recall is best served when the word is
practiced every thirty days. l2 The latter research indicates that peri-
odic recycling of vocabulary through a variety of techniques is neces-
sary for retention.
Carter enumerates a number of factors involved in knowing a
word (Vocabulary: Applied Linguistic Perspectives 187). Among the most
salient factors are recall, difficulty, and interlanguage factors such as storage of these lexical items (Carter and McCarthy, "Word Lists" 12- 17; Channel1 83-94). These characteristics may be summarized as fol- lows:
Usage of lexical items in appropriate contexts, and the ability to re- call vocabulary for active usage in speaking and in writing.
Expectation of encountering the word in specific contexts.
Recognition of the appropriate syntactic frames for the word.
Correlation of the L2 word to its corresponding L1 reflex.
Ability to discriminate a basic from a peripheral lexical item.
Comprehension of fixed expressions. (Richards passim)
Methodology. At least one prominent, contemporary methodology, the "Natural Approach," is explicitly vocabulary-intensive (Krashen and Terrell155). Krashen and Terrell note that a knowledge of vocab- ulary is essential to communication and the acquisition process (155). In fact, these linguists state that "acquisition will not take place with- out comprehension of vocabulary" (155). More specifically, Krashen and Terrell state that "the Natural Approach is based on the premise that vocabulary is acquired via comprehensible input" (156). Because the lexicon plays a crucial role in this method, ancillary, contextual- ized vocabulary exercises will play a crucial role in the success of the method.
Krashen has observed that "excellent reasons exist for devoting time to vocabulary" ("We Acquire Vocabulary" 440). In an important essay on the acquisition of lexical items in a second-language, Krashen defends his "Input Hypothesis" against two other approaches, namely, the "Skill-Building Hypothesis" and the "Output Hypothe- sis" (The Input Hypothesis passim; "We Acquire Vocabulary" 440-41). Skill-building involves, among other things, learning vocabulary on an item-by-item basis, morphological analysis, and various types of exercises. The weak version of the "Skill-Building Hypothesis" means that this strategy is only one way of acquiring vocabulary. The "Output Hypothesis" means that students learn vocabulary by pro- ducing words which either yield a positive or a negative result. Posi- tive reinforcements thus lead to acquisition. Krashen argues for what he calls "free reading," i.e., reading texts in the target language as a passive approach to vocabulary enrichment.
Teaching Vocabulary. In their thorough examination of the teaching of vocabulary, Carter (Vocabulary: Applied Linguistic Perspectives 187- 88) and Carter and McCarthy ("Developments" passim) have made several important general observations about this facet of the curricu- lum. Their findings are summarized here:
Utilize techniques that evoke visual image associations. l3
Focus on phonological patterns as a strategy for lexical retention (Channel194).
Develop a notion of core versus peripheral vocabulary.
4. Encourage lexical amplification in more advanced classes through semantic grids (see Cornu; Harvey; Stieglitz; and Meara).
Teach fixed and idiomatic expressions.
Encourage students to guess by using contextual clues for ascertaining the meaning of new vocabulary in oral or written formats.
Teach words in discourse to develop an appreciation of syntactic, semantic and pragmatic functions of lexical items.
Dictionaries and Vocabulary. Bilingual dictionaries are most fre- quently used by neophyte language learners. As these students of a second language become more sophisticated, they often come to rely on monolingual dictionaries (Carter and McCarthy, "Developments" 52-57). Not surprisingly, continuous and extended use of bilingual dictionaries retards a student's linguistic progress (Baxter 325). Never- theless, Summers argues that dictionaries can be valuable tools in vo- cabulary acquisition when properly used (116-18). Correct usage of monolingual dictionaries requires that the second-language teacher instruct the student in this skill.
Specific Strategies for Vocabulary Elicitation
Danesi has developed the bimodal model of second-language ac- quisition that stresses access to both cerebral hemispheres in the ac- quisition/learning of second-languages. l4 Neurological bimodality, according to Danesi's definition is "the notion that both hemispheres [of the brain] are involved in a complementary fashion in global lan- guage processing" ("Neurological Bimodality" 18). Specifically, this Italo-Canadian scholar states that "effective language learning in a classroom environment requires the utilization of the perceptual modalities associated with each cerebral hemisphere" ("Neurological Bimodality" 13).
We adapt the four practical elements that Danesi associates with his neurological bimodality model for the strategies that we propose for vocabulary acquisition ("Practical Applications" 384-89). First, contextualization refers to creation of an appropriate and significant environment in which a learning activity may be located. This concept means that the instructor needs to situation linguistic exercises in the context of conversation. Second, visualization alludes to the incorpora- tion of a variety of visual materials such as pictures, slides, overhead projectors, film, interactive CALL, video disks, and related technol- ogy.15 Third, diversification means the well-established technique of providing a wide range of learning activities during a class room en- counter. Finally, personalization is the inclusion of students as active participants in language activities.
General Recomrnenda tions for Vocabulary Acquisition Strategies
In this section, we discuss the general recommendations for acqui- sition and retention of Italian vocabulary. These devices include Danesi's just noted recommendations of contextualization, visualiza- tion, diversification, and personalization ("Practical Applications"
Determine the core Italian vocabulary for which students will be re- sponsible at crucial points (first semester, second semester, third semester, fourth semester). This basic vocabulary should correspond to that of the textbook in use.
Establish the semantic fields for this vocabulary (kinship terminol- ogy, the household, recreation, and so forth). Utilize Danesi's English- Italian dictionary which is organized in this fashion (Italian Vocabulary).
Include this core vocabulary on a computer diskette for easy access (Glickman's VOCAB-U-LISTER software program is a useful tool).
Develop vocabulary activities designed to interest students in using their knowledge of the language. Problem-solving activities constitute one useful procedure.16
Create non-traditional vocabulary exercises that elicit lexical items in a contextual way, i.e., evoke vocabulary in indirect ways (see below for selected examples).
Avoid simple English-to-Italian translation drills.
Recognize that certain techniques function best for the receptive skills (e.g., cloze procedure, see Carter, "Vocabulary, Cloze, and Dis- course" 177-81 ) while others best serve the productive skills (exercises that focus on the phonetic properties of a word or the production of written forms of words).
Recycle core vocabulary periodically in different formats (see below for exemplars of such formats).
Games, Puzzles, and Problem-Solving Activities
Many of these materials involve problem-solving activities which may be categorized into a typology (see Danesi, "Puzzles," 274 for the original schema). Mollica developed a detailed tripartite typology ("Visual Puzzles" 585): (1) additive visual elements (logical deduc- tions, word tricks, verbal equations); (2) integrated visual elements (letters of the alphabet, rebuses, secret words, crossword puzzles, cartoons, sequencing, cultoons [Morain 676-901, mystery puzzles); and (3) pure visual element (missing items, memory test, anachro- nisms, stick figures, maps, adverbial descriptions, object associations, intruders). Likewise, Danesi has discussed excellent general strategies for worthwhile problem-solving activities. l7
In the realm of problem-solving activities, Danesi distinguishes be- tween puzzles and games (A Guide to Puzzles 3). The former are "problem-solving activities requiring the individual learner to formu- late a solution" (AGuide to Puzzles 3), while the latter are "problem- solving activities involving interaction among learners" (A Guide to Puzzles 3). The vocabulary materials that we will discuss and exem- plify in this presentation involve puzzle-type problem-solving activi- ties that are designed for individual solution.
We have devised several traditional problem-solving formats for eliciting and reinforcing Italian vocabulary from students enrolled in elementary and intermediate Italian classes. By virtue of their famil- iarity, these puzzle activities will be readily accepted by students be- cause no additional learning burden is required to engage in such ac- tivities.
One of the key components of Danesi's neurological model of lan- guage learning/acquisition is the visual element.18 Over the course of his distinguished career, Mollica has provided numerous examples of linking graphic elements with language activities to create innovative and stimulating classroom exercises.19 Many of our suggestions for vocabulary building include a visual component designed to be a memory reinforcement for the student.
Semantic Domains of Vocabulary
An approach to vocabulary acquisition that is semantic, systematic, and contextualized is essential for positive results. We have devel- oped a number of exercises that permit the students to work at their own pace. These strategies include the following components based, in part, on Carter's typology: (1) synonymy; (2) antonymy; (3) hy- ponymy; (4) mathematical problems; and (5) derivational morphology (1 9-20).
Synonymy. The introduction of synonyms, or words with equiva- lent or supposedly identical meaning, also results in the amplification of a student's vocabulary. Carter notes that a synonym "is essentially a bilateral or symmetrical sense relation in which more than one lin- guistic form can be said to have the same conceptual or propositional meaning" (19). Carter cautions, however, that absolute substitutability is not possible. Factors such as register and style determine the usage of synonymous words. Examples of synonyms include commencelbegin and endlterminate.
Antonymy. The incorporation of antonyms, or opposites, in the Ital- ian classroom is an effective way of doubling the student's lexical in- ventory. Carter states that antonymy refers to "a notion of semantic opposition or unrelatedness" (19). Carter subcategorizes antonymy into four domains:
complementarity ("the presence of one sense component excludes the other," married/single);
converseness ("contrastive lexical relations where there is a mea- sure of logical reciprocity," buylsell);
incompatibility ("relational contrasts between items in a semantic field," e.g., days, seasons, and so forth);
antonomy refers to the three previous notions as well as relative oppositions, e.g., big/small, and so forth. (19-20)
Hyponymy. Carter defines hyponymy as "a relationship existing be- tween specific and general lexical items in that the meaning of the specific item is included in and by the meaning of the more general item" (20). Specifically, this refers to superordinate, coordinate, and subordinate classifications. The following examples demonstrate each type: (1)superordinate grouping (vehicle-car); (2) coordinate group- ing (car-sedan); and (3) subordinate grouping (meat-veal).
Mathematical Problems. The use of mathematical problems (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) involves classic sym- bolic manipulation. Developing the skill of solving mathematical problems in the target language is one of the most difficult areas to master in a second-language. For this reason, the inclusion of simple math problems is a valuable linguistic exercise focused discretely on numerical terminology.
Word Formation. Auditory (listening) or visual recognition (reading) of vocabulary items as well as their production (speaking and writing) entails the ability to recognize roots and stems of inflectionally- or derivationally-related lexical items. One aspect of this important skill involves recognition and production of word formation processes. Vizmuller-Zocco has carried out pertinent research in this domain with reference to talia an.^^ Derivational morphological processes refer to patterns such as the following: (1) adjectives derived from nouns (humorlhumorous); (2) nouns derived from verbs (writelwriter); and (3) nouns derived from other nouns (artlartist). As noted above, an im- portant part of comprehension is the ability to determine formal and semantic lexical relatedness. Likewise, production of lexical items en- tails a knowledge of the formal processes for producing lexically re- lated words even though there is the overgeneration problem (production of non-existent forms based on a particular derivational morphological pattern).
Discrete Vocabula y Exercises in Italian
In this section, we apply the theoretical and pedagogical informa- tion discussed above to practical activities for the Italian classroom. These suggestions include the following types: (1)vocabulary finder;
(2) crossword puzzles; (3) tic-tac-toe; (4) scrambled letters and words; and (5) word creation.
Vocabulary Finder. Puzzles under the rubric of "vocabulary finder" are ubiquitous and may be found in many newspapers and magazines under a variety of different names. The standard format of these prob- lem-solving activities involves a list of words that the participant tries to locate in a square or rectangular maze of letters. The hidden lexical items may appear in a variety of configurations (left-right, right-left, diagonal, vertical, horizontal). The difficulty of these puzzles is de- termined by the number of lexical items to be located, and the quan- tity of the unrelated alphabetic distractors (random letters).
Our approach to this puzzle type involves a three-step process. The first stage, requires the student to generate the appropriate vocabulary item. Rather than resorting to the familiar English-to-Italian trans- lation strategy, it is desirable to provide a stimulus that is symbolic. This may involve a visual element such as a picture, or drawing that depicts the object (noun) or activity (predicate) or description (adjective) of the word to be provided. Other strategies for vocabulary elicitation include the use of antonomy (complementarity, converse- ness, incompatibility, i.e., closed sets such as days of the week, and so forth), synonymy, hyponomy, or simple mathematical problems. The second stage of this task requires that the student write the appropri- ate vocabulary item in the space provided. We advocate that the in- structor provide underlined spaces that correspond to the number of letters of the item in the actual word to ensure that a correct response is provided. The final stage of this activity requires that the student locate the words in the letter maze provided. This latter step consti- tutes a reinforcement activity.
In this discrete lexical pursuit, the student produces vocabulary from some semantically-related and meaningful domain. Next, the student writes the appropriate orthographic form by virtue of placing the letters in each "slot" of the answer sheet. Finally, the student rein- forces this learning activity by engaging in a diverting recreational activity.
The following Vocabulary Finder problem-solving activities were created with the software program Word Search DeluxeTM on AppleB Macintosh@ LC.~~
Different type faces are available with this program.
In this section, we provide three exemplars of Vocabulary Finder: (1)mathematical problems (Figs. 1-2); (2) word derivations (Figs. 3-4); and (3) incompatibility (Carter 19) or closed sets (Figs. 5-6).
Fig. 1Mathematical Problems
UNNNWJQNWTHGASSA FVENTIIUOHDRCAET GWZOZFEUIVICLOSN BUDYTUUANNANFASA BCOBJAQFTI DNCOAU MIESATNATTOITUNQ l BZZNY l OOCBDCATN WCDNVTCABZWI HlAl OIESATNERTLESQTC KONUTNERTJYCVPRQ LCPTGYSUFOEIKMEE
Write out the correct answers to the following simple mathematical problems (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) in the spaces provided. Each underlined space corresponds to one letter of the cor- rect response. Once you have written out the correct form, locate these words in the letter maze above.
Fig. 3 Word Derivation
Write out the Italian nouns derived from the following adjectives. The underlined spaces correspond to the letters to be supplied. Once you have written out the correct form, locate these words in the letter maze above. Clue: all the words end in the noun-producing suffix
be110 - - - - ----6. certo -- - ----
fermo --------7. incerto ---------
grande ---------8. fvanco ---------
lung0 ---------9. lento -- - ----
5. sicuro ---------10. svelte --------
Fig. 5 Closed Sets
OMNEXEUCCBI ELJQU ZAJRYLTVVRRUCDOM QGZBAl CQRBGEI HI N SGFMTRQI MLJCl WAS Ll EEMPGEl l EEl DNT HOBVPATOGMRVAVNF SGBOJTMI BBEl BHEV VIRNEAUROHXCVZGS GEASRGETEIMWKDXB JXl ZNOTSOGALUHOW QYOOYOMLRTTUFCAT
Write out the months of the year in Italian in the spaces provided. Each underlined space corresponds to one letter of the correct word. Once you write out the correct forms, find these words in the letter maze above.
Crossword Puzzles. The crossword puzzle format is another com- mon activity familiar to most students. Horizontal (across) and verti- cal (down) clues are provided as stimuli to the student. Since a single space for each letter of the correct response is provided in this puzzle format, and because other components of this type of puzzle depend on a correct response, the student must provide an appropriate and orthographically accurate answer.
The vocabulary for the crossword puzzle may derive from other problem-solving activities to reinforce previously acquired vocabulary items. Such diversification is also a key element in Danesi's bimodal approach to language instruction ("Practical Applications" 384-89).
Stimuli that cause the student to use different types of cognitive strategies (antonomy, synonymy, hyponomy, mathematical formulae, word associations, etc.) are the preferred "stems" for eliciting specific lexical items.
The first crossword puzzle in this section (mathematical problems, Figs. 7-8) contains the same stimuli as those found in the Vocabulary Finder exercise in the previous section (see Figs. 1-2). Recycling of materials is one way of reinforcing previously learned material. In this case, an entire puzzle has been recycled. It would probably be better to have a mix of previous clues in a crossword puzzle that reintro- duces previously encountered elements. This does not mean that this type of puzzle must always contain recycled materials. Two other ex- amples of crossword puzzles are contained in this section. The second features the names of famous Italians to whom the student must pro- vide the appropriate professional term (Figs. 9-10). The third item is a list of words for which the student must supply synonyms (Figs. 11- 12).
All of the crossword puzzles in this section were created with the software progi-am entitled Crossword CreatorTM on an Apple@ Macintosh@ LC.~~
Fig. 7 Mathematical Computation
6 lea -14
z lea + 10
STRATEGIESFOR TEACHING VOCABULARY 535
Fig. 9 Synonyms
lCR0SS 2 andare lnsleme 4 dare un gI~d1210 6 werepaura 7 renden llbero 0 rendere migliore DOWN 1 dare bacl 2 dam aiuto 3 domandare 5 fare un inulto b flnire
536 FRANK NUESSEL AND CATERINA CICOGNA
Fig. 11 Professions
6 Sophla Lmn
7 Enzla Deledda
Tic-Tac-Toe. The familiar tic-tac-toe structure features three rows with three columns each. The student is then asked to discover a rela- tionship in three lexical items in a diagonal, vertical, or horizontal row. The relationship may be semantic (antonomy, synonymy), cate- gorical (hyponymy), or linguistic (morphology).
The following tic-tac-toe format was created with the software program entitled Microsoft@ Word 4.0.~~
We advocate providing a space for the student to state the lexical relationship. The following are some examples that we have devised (see Fig. 13-16).
Meaning Patterns. Find three words in a row that share a common pattern of meaning. The words may be in a horizontal, vertical, or dia-
sfera decimale cerchio
concavo curva quadrat0
acuto segment0 rettangolo -
Fin.-14 sfera decimale concavo curva qua1irato acuto segment0 retttngolo
Common element Geometric figures
Venezia Berlino Mosca Francoforte Roma Londra Napoli Parigi Milano
Fig. 16 Venez-Berlino Mosca Francoforte Napoli Parigi
Common element Italian cities
Scrambled Formats. The scrambling of vocabulary elements is a simple process. All that is required is preparation of the list of ele- ments (word, phrase, sentence) with a corresponding rearrangement. The instructor should take care that all of the letters or words are con- tained in the shuffled format. We provide the following examples that involve the reconstruction of disordered elements.
In the following example (Fig. 17), the scrambled letters belong to the domain of kinship terminology.
Fig. 17Kinship Terms
oonnn ----iza --iolfig -----tlfeoarl ----- - - -
oitmar -----edrma ----llosera - - - --- -
[Answers:nonno, zia, figlio, fratello, marito, madre, sorella, moglie, nuora, generol
Word Creation. Word creation is a type of open-ended puzzle that requires the student to refer to an initial lexical item. In this activity, the student must change a single letter in the word to create a new, and actual word in the Italian language (see Zamponi 24). There are many variations of this formula. The one that we propose here in- volves the changing of a single letter, while at the same time main- taining the original number of letters (see Fig. 18). Variations on this theme include reducing a word by one letter to form a new word. Another possibility involves the addition of a letter or a syllable to create a word.
In this exercise, you are to change a single letter in the initial word to create a new and existing vocabulary item in Italian. Spaces are pro- vided for six possibilities. You may be able to think of even more words. Do not repeat an item. Verify the validity of your answers by checking a dictionary.
[Answers:porta, parta, pasta, posta post~, pest~]
Inclusion of any materials in a curriculum implies the need to as- sess those items. Since vocabulary is an essential and ignored compo- nent of many a second-language curriculum, it is important that the lexicon be a part of the evaluation package of the Italian curri~ulum.~~
As noted above, a conventional and simplistic English-to-Italian translation format ought to be avoided. The strategies outlined in the previous section are approaches to vocabulary enhancement designed to elicit the desired items meaningfully, thereby allowing the student to demonstrate a comprehension that is not based on some mnemonic trick, but rather on a substantial knowledge of the Italian language. To accomplish this goal, incorporation into standard assessment instru- ments (quizzes, tests, and so forth) of the same type of materials as those used in the actual exercises presented above (vocabulary finder, crossword puzzles, tic-tac-toe, scrambled items, and so forth) rein- forces the importance of the problem-solving activities used as an ac- tivity in the classroom. When the student sees comparable, albeit not identical, materials included in the evaluation instruments, their sig- nificance as another learning tool is sustained.
In this essay, a succinct overview of the recent, copious research into the area of second-language vocabulary acquisition and instruc- tion was provided. Next, Danesi's model of neurological bimodality was reviewed as a likely approach for the teaching of vocabulary in a second-language. Third, a discussion of some techniques for vocabu- lary elicitation designed to focus on meaning and lexical relatedness as opposed to some arbitrary mnemonic procedures ensued. Fourth, specific examples of these techniques with special attention to prob- lem-solving techniques were provided (Cicogna, Danesi, and Mollica). Fifth, specific assessment strategies were then discussed briefly.
FRANK NUESSEL and CATERINA CICOGNA
University of Louisville and Consulate General of Italy
See, for example, Carter and McCarthy, "Developments in the Teaching of Vo- cabulary: 1945 to the Present Day" and Meara, "Vocabulary Acquisition: A Neglected Aspect of Language Learning" for excellent historical accounts on the teaching of vo- cabulary. See also the many other important studies in this domain, namely, Aspatore, "But I Don't Know All the Words!"; Baxter, "The Dictionary and Vocabulary Behav- ior: The Use of English Cognates and Common Loanwords"; Brown, "Advanced Vo- cabulary Teaching: The Problem of Collocation"; Carter, Vocabulary: Applied Lin
guistic Perspectives and "Vocabulary, Cloze, and Discourse"; Carter and McCarthy, "Lexis and Structure" and "Word Lists and Learning Words: Some Foundations"; Channell, "Psycholinguistic Considerations in the Study of L2 Vocabulary Acquisition"; Cornu, "The First Step in Vocabulary Teaching"; Cowie, "Stable and Creative Aspects of Vocabulary Use"; Dolphin, "Enhancing Vocabulary Acquisition and Comprehension by Visual Stimuli"; Feeny, "Vocabulary Learning as a Means of Vocabulary Expansion"; Hague, Vocabulary Instruction: What L2 Can Learn from Ll"; Harvey, "Vocabulary Learning: The Use of Grids"; Judd, "Vocabulary Teaching and TESOL: A Need for Reevaluation of Existing Assumptions"; Kramsch, "Word Watching: Learning Vocabulary Becomes a Hobby"; Levenston, "Second Language Acquisition: Issues and Problems"; Ludwig, "Vocabulary Acquisition as a Function of Word Characteristics"; McCarthy, "A New Look at Vocabulary in EFL" and "Some Vocabulary Patterns in Conversation"; Martin, "Advanced Vocabulary Teach- ing: The Problem of Teaching Synonyms"; Nation and Coady, "Vocabulary and Reading"; Nattinger, "Some Current Trends in Vocabulary Teaching"; Nilsen, "Contrastive Semantics in Vocabulary Teaching"; Omaggio, Teaching Language in Context: Proficiency-oriented Instruction; Plaister, "Teaching Vocabulary, Listening Comprehension, and Reasoning by Means of Analogies"; Simpson, "The Character- istics of Effective Vocabulary Instruction"; Sinclair and Renouf, "A Lexical Syllabus for Language Learning"; Stahl, "Three Principles of Effective Vocabulary Instruc- tion"; Stieglitz, "A Practical Approach to Vocabulary Reinforcement"; Summers, "The Role of Dictionaries in Language Learning"; Twaddell, "Vocabulary Expansion in the ESOL Classroom"; and Wallace, Teaching Vocabulary.
2~orFrench, see Nemni, "Les maux des mots"; Rosoff, "Anglo-Americanisms in the French Sporting Vocabulary"; and, Surridge, "L'utilitC d'un vocabulaire structurC pour 1'Ctudiant anglophone du fran~ais langue seconde." For German, see Banta, "Teaching German Vocabulary: The Use of English Cognates and Common Loan- words"; Bolton, "A Comparative Study of Basic German Vocabulary Lists"; and Hol- ley, "A Study of Vocabulary Learning in Context: The Effect of New Word Density in German Reading." For Greek and Latin, see Scanlan, "A Computer-assisted In- struction Course in Vocabulary Building Through Latin and Greek Roots." For Ital- ian, see Danesi, Language Games in Italian, "Thinking in Italian: Problem-solving Activities in the Italian Classroom," "Giochiamo a imparare l'italiano con l'enig- mistica e l'informatica," Manuale di tecniche per la didattica delle lingue moderne, and Italian Vocabulary; Fazi, Sinonimi e contrari: mini-dizionario della lingua italia- nu per stranieri; Maiguashca, "Semantic Fields: Toward a Methodology for Teaching Vocabulary in the Second-language Classroom" and "Verso una metodologia per l'in- segnamento del lessico dell'italiano come lingua seconda: un approccio semantico"; Mollica, Parole crociate per principianti; Sassu, "Interferenzi lessicali: inglese-italia- no"; Vizmuller, "La derivazione nell'apprendimento dell'italiano come seconda lin- gua"; Vizmuller-Zocco, "Derivation in the Advanced Course of Italian," "Linguistic creativity in Word Formation," and "Derivation, Creativity and Second Language Learning"; and Zamponi, I draghi locopei. For Russian, see Keller, "Pedagogical Wishes for a Machine Dictionary: An Example from Russian." For Spanish, see Bahrick, "Semantic Memory Content in Permastore: Fifty Years of Memory for Spanish Learned in School"; Bahrick and Phelps, "Retention of Spanish Vocabulary Over Eight Years"; Feeny, "Vocabulary Learning as a Means of Vocabulary Expan- sion"; Ganison, "Inductive Strategies for Teaching English-Spanish Cognates"; Pat- terson, "Lexical Borrowings in Spanish: Function, Length, Genealogy, and Chronol- ogy"; Sugano, "The Idiom in Spanish Language Teaching"; Stutz, "Flashcards: Fast and Fun"; and Williams, "Promoting Lexical Resources."
3~eeDanesi, "Puzzles in Language Teaching" and A Guide to Puzzles and Games in Second Language Pedagogy; Mollica, "Visual Puzzles in the Second-language Classroom" and "Reinforcing Language Skills through Problem-solving Activities and Pencil-and-Paper Activities"; and Orleans and Orleans, The Great Big Book of Pencil Puzzles.
4~eeKrashen, The Input Hypothesis: Issues and Implications and "We Acquire Vocabulary and Spelling by Reading: Additional Evidence for the Input Hypothesis"; Krashen and Terrell, The Natural Approach: Language Acquisition in the Classroom.
5~eeMaiguashca, "Semantic Fields" and "Verso una metodologia." %ee Danesi Italian Vocabulary. Compare Rebora, Cassell's Italian Dictionary for a traditional bilingual dictionary (Italian-English). See also Summers, "The Role of Dictionaries in Language Learning," for a discussion of the role of dictionaries in language acquisition. 7~eeVizmuller, "La derivazione"; and Vizmuller-Zocco, "Derivation in the Ad- vanced Course," "Linguistic Creativity," and "Derivation, Creativity." 8~eeCarter, Vocabulary: Applied Linguistic Perspectives 33-45, 68-69, 86-87, 175-76, 18448,219-23; Carter and McCarthy, "Word Lists." 9~eeDanesi, "The Development of Metaphorical Competence: A Neglected Di- mension of Second Language Pedagogy"; Maiguashca, "Semantic Fields" and "Verso una metodologia"; Nuessel, "Metaphor and Cognition: A Survey of Recent Publica- tions"; and Nuessel and Cicogna, "Proverbs and Metaphoric Language in Second Language Acquisition." losee Lakoff and Johnson, Metaphors We Live By; and Lakoff, Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal Abour the Mind.
l l~ee Bahrick, "Semantic Memory Content in Permastore: Fifty Years of Mem- ory for Spanish Learned in School." 12see Bahrick and Phelps, "Retention of Spanish Vocabulary Over Eight Years."
13see Dolphin, "Enhancing Vocabulary Acquisition and Comprehension by Vi- sual Stimuli"; Danesi, "Pedagogical Graphics in Second-language Learning"; Ham- merly, "Advantages and Limitations of Visual Aids in Second-Language Testing"; Brown and Mollica, "Introduction"; Mollica, A Picture is Worth 1000 Words. Book I, A Picture is Worth 1000 Words. Book II, and "Reinforcing Language Skills"; and Maiguashca, "Semantic Fields" and "Verso una metodologia."
14see Danesi, Manuale, Cervello linguaggio ed educazione and "Neurolinguistic Bimodality and Theories of Language Teaching."
l5see Garrett, "Technology in the Service of Language Learning: Trends and Is- sues"; Danesi, "Pedagogical Graphics"; Dolphin; Hammerly; Stevick, Images and Options in the Language Classroom; and Wright, Visual Materials for the Language Teacher and Pictures for Language Learning.
16~anesi, "Puzzles," A Guide to Puzzles, Language Games, and "Thinking in Ital- ian"; Mollica, Parole crociate and "Reinforcing Language Skills"; and Nuessel, "The Integration and Assessment of Games and Recreational Problem-solving Activities the Second-language Curriculum."
17~anesi, "Puzzles," A Guide to Puzzles, Language Games, and "Thinking in Ital- ian."
18~anesi, "Practical Applications," Cervello, Manuale, Neurolinguistica, and "Neurological Bimodality." See also Nuessel and Cicogna, "Pedagogical Applications of the Bimodal Model of Learning through Visual and Auditory Stimuli" and "Narrative Texts and Images in the Teaching of the Italian Language and Italian Cul- ture."
19~ollica,Parole crociate, A Picture. Book I, A Picture. Book II, and "Reinforcing Language Skills."
20~izmuller, "La derivazione"; Vizmuller-Zocco, "Derivation," "Linguistic Cre- ativity," and "Derivation, Creativity, and Second Language Learning." 21~ordicSoftware, Inc., 917 Carlos Drive, Lincoln, Nebraska 68505. 22~entron Software Technologies, Inc., 1500 N. W. 3rd Street, #101, Deerfield Beach, FL33442. 23~icrosoft Corporation, 16011 NE 36th Way, Box 97017, Redmond, WA 98073-97 17. 24~eeNuessel, "Foreign Language Testing Today: Issues in Language Program Direction."
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