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The Inseparable Relationship betweenVocabulary Teaching and

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  The Inseparable Relationship between Vocabulary Teaching and Culture





  Vocabulary tcaching is 23n important componcnt of language  teaching However, it has long been the "Cinderella" of forcign language tcaching According to Richands,the tcaching and learning of vocabulary  have long been undenalucd in the field of Second Language Acquisition  (SLA) through its varying stages and up to the present day. SLA

The Inseparable Relationship betweenVocabulary Teaching and

  rescarcbers and teachers have typically prioritized syntax and phonology  25 more scrioss candidates for theorizing. more central to linguistic  thecory, and more critical to language pedagogy. Only recently, the rescarch of vocabulary tcaching becomes more and rmore important to scholars of language teaching Some of then put forward some influential viewpoints in the field of vocabulary teaching For instance,

  Judd stressed the Signficanee of presenting Englisth vocabulary in a natural,   linguistic context of Englisth; English wonds taught in isolation are gencrally not rctainod; the full meanings of English words(which  include their sociolinguistic contexts) can only cormo from cncountcring  them in a rich linguistic enviroment of English. Besides, Wicrbicka  chaimed that cultural meaning is shaped in history, and is part of the shared hertage of the speakers of a language. therefore, it is worthwhile  teaching cultural meanings of words.  What's more, several works cntirely comcerned with vocabulary teaching also came out. Technigves im Teaching Nocabulary by V.F.  Allen was published in 1983. This book provides a sound basis for  teaching vocabulary, and answers sach qpestions as which English  words studcats neced to lcam most, and why some wonds are casicr to  learn than otbers. tn this book, Aleen akso angues that it is important to  intcgrate culural clemcnts into vocabulary taching This valuable vicw  alerts  us to the fact that it is necessary to intcgratc culture into   vocabulary tcaching.

  In 1997 Vocabulary: Decription, Meguisirion and Pedagogy was  edited by Nobert Schmitt & Michael MoCarthy. In the sectiom of vocabulary acquisition, "cultural distance" is pointed out to have great influcnce om vocabulary and culure. However, for how to handle "culoural distance" in vecabulary teaching. the pedagogical section providcs no refcrecncc.

  Form above revicw, we can see that more and more schlars have  rcalized and pointed out that vocabulary and cultare ane insspurable  form cach other. And these opinions inspire vocabulary teaching a lot.  But the problom is that most of them provide itle guidance for how to  combine culture with vocabulary teaching In wiew of this, this essay is  designed to disceuss the problems existing in vocabulary tcaching in  Chincse forcign language classes and to put forwand some suggestions  as rogands how to combine vocabolary tcacbing with cultural instruction  in order to improve the quality of both the teacher's tcaching and the  students' lcaming To lay a solid foundation on how to combine  vocabulary teaching with culturc, the relationship betwecn vocabulary  teaching and culture is to be discussed in the follonwing part.

  (评析:Introduction 部分引出话题并综述词汇教学.)

  1. The Importance of Vecabulary Teaching

  As is known,language is the instrumcnt of comrmunication. A  language imvolves three clemcnts.prouncistion, vocabulary, and  grammar. The famous lingaist Wilkins says, The fact is that while   without grammar very litle can be conveyod, without vocabulary   nothing can be conveyed." According to Michael Mecarthy,"It is the  expcricnce of most language teachers that singel, biggest component of  any language course is sounds of L2 are mastcred, without words to  express a wide rangc of mcanings, s0 communication in L2 just cannot   happen in any mcaningful way."

  From the above discussion we get to know that vocabulary is an  important part in language system. It is commonly viewed as the  bailding material that flls into the finamework of grammer and words are  regarded  as the basis of human communication. So in language teaching. vocabulary tcaching is onc main contcnt.


  2. The Necessity of Cultural Instruction While Teaching  Vocabulary

  Aconding to Halliday, Language is not only a means of  communication, but alse a vehicle of culture. Language msage reflects  the culture of a socicty. This relationship between languuge and culture  forms an impertant aspect in second langlugge acquisition. Language  usage cannot exist outside a certain socicty of contexil. Language is nof a  tool of a natiom, but also a mcans to refleet cultural features of a nation. Therefore, leaning a langinage, in foct, is inseparable from leaming its  culture.

  Since vocabulary tcashing is one main content of langiuge tcaching, and language should imcorporate with cultuare tcaching, t is  aecessary to combine the prescnt voeatelary teaching approaches with  the notiom of culture in Tcaching Englisb as a Foreign Language(TEFL)

  In fact culture influence vocabulary teaching Nobady could rally  master a language if He knew lttle about the cultural background of the  languge. A good lcarner must have a wide scope of knowledge. It is  significant and necessary to accumulate and grasp the knowledge of  cultural backgrouand of tbe language. For exarnple, there is a seatence  like this, "When you are doiwn, you ane not neessarily ou," In America,  this is well known to all However, as a result of not knowing musch  about the cultural backgroand of this sentenece, a lot of English learmcrs  cannot get a clear idca about this. This  was a term in boxing. If a boxer,who has becm bearcn down by his opponent, camnot stand u when the  eferee counts to ten, be will be jodged to have lost the match. But in  most cases, they stand up and go om to fight. Tberefore, the connotation  of this semtence is that when you are fEaced with sctbacks, it is not  nccessary that you have lost the chance of success

  Another example: The cops were the matter of fact about the whole thing.

  Students saally perecive "matter of fact" in this scntcnee as commcndatory term, having the mcaning of"实事求是"Converscly, it is derogatory and means "就事论事".Furthermore, cop itself is derogatory. So the sentenee means"警察对整个事件都是抱着就事论事的态度".

  Aborve all, cultural background is fundamental to seucessfull vocabulary tcaching Therefore, it should be integrated into vocabulary tcaching.

  Englisth speaking countries and China differ gratly in valucs, social attitades, political systems and ways of life, cte, Asa resalt, it is  difficult for them to comanicate with cach other, Let 2s give some  exuamples to show culharal differcmoes between English and Chinese,In China, Poor peasant and Laborer have positive connotations, However, they oftcm carry somewhat ncgative mcaning to some pecople  in western couantrics. in contras, Lanllord and capitalist are oftce  pejorative to the Chinese, but they are Bot s0 to many people in countics with capitalist system. To some cxicnt, sach connotatioms relloet  differemt atitades towands different social classes, For amother instance, nambers are ued frequcntly by both Chincse and English people. But the sme number may arouse difcrcmt  associatices in two languages. In Chinese and English people. But the  same murmber may arouse different associations in two langages. In  Chins, the number"six" is often assesiated with being saeessful, just as  Chinese ofien say "六六大顺" ,while westermers dislike the mumber very mouch, for it is said to be the code name of devil in Bible. The number  "four" is another word in this case. Chimese people rescat the mumber "四".forit sounds the same  as"死"However, for westerm people,"four" in English i the symbol of fair and justice.

  Therefore, we Can see that dfferent culures have differcnt cultural  convcentions. This vicw has albo been claimed by Aritchisom: "Every  language cuts up the world in dilfcrent ways. It is not simply that one  language somctimes has more subdivisions than anothcr im cortain area  in one language is unlikely to correspond those in any other lnguage, even wbcn tbe speakers share similar culure".

  Thereforc. cultural differences may influcmnee the mode betwen the  Chinese and  Westermers. Theretfore it will be helpful for people from  differcnt cultures to have some arwarcness of these cultural differences  s0 as to be successiul in commumication.


  3. Problems Existing in Current Vocabulary Teaching

  Although mone and more scholars and tcachers realized that  vocabulary and culure ane inscparnablty interwoven with cach other, the  currcat vocabulary teaching is far from being satisfactory from the  cultural perspective. There are many problcms remaining to be dcalt  with.

  Finstly, according to a sunvey conducted by Xiao Ningning in  Shandong Normal   University, many English tcachers and stadcnts don't  have a comprchensive understanding of vocabubary meaning and its  cultural rclevance, tberecfore it is very hand for them to realize the neessty of combining culture with yoabulary teaching or lcarning.

  Sooondly, not sofhcicnt information has been provided on the  tanget culture in vocabulary imn theory and rescanch is now being replaced  by vigorous intcresr". However, the problem of bow to bclp studcnts to  cnlarge  vocabulary and use 小those i wonds effectively in the commanication still remains to be resolved. Stadents may know the  definition of the words from dictioearics. Nevertheless, it will be quite dafficult for thcm to know those wonds and expresstons that ae closely nelated with social and cultuaral changes.

  For cxample, the wond "professional" should be used cautiousty.

  She is a professiomal.

  She is perbups a professionalprostitutc).

  ln a given context, Armcrican people can easily andcrstand that these two sentences share same rmcanings, but if leamers have no scess to rclated cultural information, evcn f they know all the words of a sentence, they will til not be able to gert the meaning Theitr ignorance of cultural meaning of words offcen harspers the smooth communicationm, or even lead to serious mistakes in some formal situation.

  Thirnlly, methods for introdacing cultune information  are  moeotonous in Enghish classes, Im vocabulury tcaching. communicative  approach is excbasively adored in the class. while other metbods ane  ignored to some extcent. As the theorctical penduluam swings from one  extrome to another, cach exaggeration is followed by its opposite. We

  realize that we have becn translating 1oo mach, s0 translation is banned completely. Grammar explunatioes are seemed to have been  over-valued, so grammar explanations are swepe away.

  As a mattcr of fact, almost m0 such an efficicnt method can be  assigned supreme effectivencss. oor even that any of contemporary tcacbing approacbes can chim to be more ffloctive than other in some absolute sensc, It sems hat the communicative strategy, although certainly very effective for some learmcrs and under some cincumstances, also contains some pedagogical harands and is prone to various misases.

  Therefone, it is unsise to focus on ome certain teaching approach in the whole process of instructioa. The lack of combination of various useful approaches wll not acquire rematkable achievecmocets.

  Fourthly, the biggost problem in tcacher's combining culture with vocabulary is that they don't know how to do it, that is, they are in lack  of guidance.



  4. Improvement for Vocabulary Teaching

  As is discussed in tbe sccond part of this essay, vocabulary is an  essential clemcnt of language. Andit is also grcatly influcmced by colture, so we should. combinc cultune with vocabulary teaching However, from the third part of this essay, we can see that culturall instruction in vocabulary tcaching in China is still far from  satisfactory. Then it is qaite necessary to strengthen it in Chinese  educational system, so that the quality can be improved, and it will further help the students to commanicate sucessfully in intercultural commamication. In order to fulfill the above aims, some suggestioms  are put forwand in this part.

  4.1 The objectives of cultural instructon in vocabulary teaching

  4.1.1 To help stuknts have a good command of vocabulary for  saccessful commanication

  The direct aim of instructing culture in vocabulary is to cmable students to usC vocabulary appropriately in a particular context. If they want to use vocabulary to express opinioms, they should be certain about words" association, positive feelings the words cwoke, and then  detemine the appropriate lexical icrms they can usC. Therefore, teachers  should introduce relevant cultural informatiom, which will offer learmers  more culture insight of ncw words and will be conducive to learmers" corect use wonds  in communication.

  4.1.2 To cnhance students' cultural awareness

  In incrcultural commanication, language learncrs often make  mistakes as a result of no4 having ecssary knowledge of crosS-cultural  differences. Therefore, teachers should not only highlight the cultural  factors in vocabulary but alse help studcnts have the idca that  vocabulary is the main carricr of culure and make them sensitive to  those culturally loaded wonds as well as the consoquences of misasing them. By and by, sudcnts may seck rclative knorsledge for their own sake during the process of learning and self-consciously avoid misasing  those culturally loaded words in cross-culural communicatiom.

  4.2 Applying a variety of methods and appreaches

  After we have been clear about what we should try to achieve in combining culture with vocabulary teaching. it is accessary for us to have some guidance as rsgards bow to condact this tcaching procedurc. Therefore, the following four methods are prescnted here.

  4.2.1 Direct interpretatioe

  Direct interprctation is the most common techniquc used in vocabulary teaching. When teachers peesent the vocabulary's liberal mcaning of the mcaning in the texl, is cultural connotatioms can be explained diroctly a the same time. For instance, sach words as Christmas, fireplace, turkey, pudding, sandwich and sabd are uniqpc in westcrm in westerm culure. The occurrcence of such clemcnts is suitable for rachers to focus om in class and give direct cxplanation and introdactioe When mecting with the word Christmas, we could talk about its origin, its usaal celebation procedure. We can, furthermore introduce otber interesting festivals in westcrm countrics sach as Thanksgiving. Easter, Mother's Day, Valentine's Day and even April Fool's Day. Some other words such as Civil War, Statue of Liberty and Disoeyland, have theit national and historical origin, and sash loan words as boyfricnd, soloparents, indlividualism Black Friday also need cxplicit explanation. After explaining, leamers can achieve a better understanding of these wonks Gemerally speakimg. diect intepretation is flexible and can be casily and be casily adopted in class.

  4.22 Contrative analysis

  Lado chims that learmers attempt to transfer the features of their native language to those of the second langeuage. Whcn the features of two languages ane similar students can get facilitation When the featbares of the wo languages ane different in structures, intcrference occurs and results in CrrOrs (1957), Since studcats often ignore the cultunal differences in the semantic associations eroked by the scemingly corresponding words in two languages, they oficn misundrstand or misuse culture loeded words. In this case, contrastive method can be used ffectivcly in taching culture camiod in vocabulary. By using this method, tcashers may predict w hat dificultics the sudcnts may have on this aspect and in turn decide what they are going to teach. Similarly, the method may hep students mone sensitive to those culturally loaded words and avoid false equations betwee coneepts in English and Chinese. Take the word""tory" as an example, many Chinese think it is corresponded with "故事" completely. By contrast, tcachers may make stadcnts knorw it is not the casc.

  Story in Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English has the following dcfinitions;: (1) an account of events, real or imagined; (2)infml(used by and to children) a lie, (3) the plot ofa book, flm, play, cte:(4) (matcrial) for (an article in a ewspaper, rmagarine, ete.) In  Chinese culture,"故事"takes the first mcaning.

  la addition, as a result of differet value system, tuo secmingly  corresponding wonds in two languages may have quite dfferent  associative mcanings. Moreover, value system is rqganded as the core of a culure and is difficult to be peroeived. In this case, the task of making  a contrast is much more demanding and complicated. The teacher sbould further explore of the esscnce of the social and historical root of the words so that the students can get a deep understanding of the esscnce of the westerm culture. For cxample, the word "individualism" is oftcn  inmterprcted by Chincseas"个人主义".because collectivism is favored by most people. Therefore, fcarmers know related cultural background, a lot of word will be casier to understand.

  4.23 Story-telling

  Story elling is suitable for the English vosabulary ilcems - allusosas rclating to the history, kegends, mythology, licerabure, religion, ete. in countries. Non-tative English speakcrs oftcn harve trouble in understunding these allusioes unless they know the story that is alhuded to.

  Many English allusions iavolve events of characters firom the treasure houase of English litcraturs, specilly froem Shakespeare. They have becoeme commoe lbouschold trms, such as Shylock. Sbylock is a crucl, greedy, moncy-grabbing person, one who will go on no ends to aequire wcalth, form The Merchant of Venice, the play by Shakespcare.

  Another common source of allusions in Engish and Amcrican speech and writing is lgends and mythology, such as gographical names and names of the days of a wcck and scicntifie terms. Paris, the capital city of France, Was named afer Paris, son of the City of Troy in Greek  mytbology, bis abduction of the beautiful Hekcn led to allusions. In Engish-speaking coantrics, with Christianity 8 the dominant religion,  one naturaly expects to find a number of nefencnces to charcters or  events im Christians' sacred book, the Bible, such as fig leaves. -Fig leaves" was originated imn the Bible: New Testamcnt: Then the gyes of borth of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewod fid leaves together and made coverings for themsclves. From above, we can see that telling stories will be condacive to understand the plorase and its associative mcaning. It will be no difficult task to tell the mcaning of the undertined part im the following passage: the only way out is fig-leaf diplomacy, So long as the Baltic countries nominally acknonwledged their Sovict membership, Gorbacbev may give thcm more latinade in ruamning their own afairs, althosagh grudgingly.

  4.2.4Case stady or error analysis

  In daily chassroom procedure, it is quitc natural that studcnts may make mistakes what answering tcacber's questions.  Once mistakes occur, error analysis can be put into ue. Acconding to stodent s answers, teacher may discover what kind of erTor is casily committed. In order to carry Out case study or crror analysis efloctively in classroom procedure, teachers can first presenot examples or cases of these crrors, and then reoqpcst the stadents  to amalyze them through pair-work or group-discussiom:

  Case 1: Chinese stadeet: Though Amcrican is an advanced socicty. its people are very pure.

  Case 2: Chinese stuadent:; Hi, Sasam, I mads a lttle doll for you last night.

  Susan: Thank you very much, (Holding the doll and looking at it)lt is very sllyy

  Chinese sudent: Silly? You doe't like it, do you?

  Ancr studcnts' performance, the teacber comes to conclusion by pointing out that these CFOFS result from differcnt coanotations in diffcrence countrics. Pure means innocent and honest in Chincse and it has the pasitive sense, whercas in English a mcans simpl, immsiture and i has the the negative sense. Sily is defined a a fool im Chinese, but in English it means cute. Through error analysis, we can clearly see that the samc word has diffarcnt connotations in differcnt countrics.

  The above mcntioned mecthods ane mostly adopted in class, however, classtoorm time is limited. lt is simply impossible for tcachers to cover up  cultural information connected wich words of to apply these methods freely, Therefore, teachers should also guide stadents to learn vocabulary's cultaral background aficr class. For instance, they can recommend studcnts to rcad some boolks conceming this ficld.

  As for those words,which are especially sensitive to culture, such as color wonds,animal wonds and ourmbers, locturcrs can be hold to introduce these words systematically of stadents can abo be required to give a duty report co these wonds. In this way, students may have a systematice knouledge about thesc culourally loaded words.

  Thoagh these methods are presented separately, it does not mean that the mecthods should be adopted separately. In fact all mcthods have their mcrits and demerits. For cxample, though the method of dirsect interpretation can be casily applied, the overuse of this method will redlace studcnts' participation, Consequcantly, the class is possible to be teacber-centcred. Therefore, these methods should be used according to a particular situation. And the coopcrative mse of various methods will abo make the instruction more ffoctive and the class more intcresting.


  5, Conclusion

  The topic of culharal instruction in vocabulary teaching is worthy of our careful study. Acconding to the discussion in scction in section two, we may conclude that there is an inseparable rclationship betwocn vocabulary and cutlture. Most English words are strongly influenced by the culture of English-spcaking people. The meanings for the words are dctermined by the culture in which we have becn raised and shift from culture to culture. That is why a correel understanding of meaning of words presupposes a good knonledge of the target lunguage. Therefore, it is necssary to integrate culturc into voabulary teaching However, the prescnt situation of vocabulary tcaching in China is far fiom being satisfoctory, Evce though some linguists have pointed out the close rclatioaship bctwcen vocabulary and culture, the rescarch

  conccrming horw to tcach culture in vocabulary is still quite few, and  vocabulary tcaching integrated wih culture hasn't becn taght well in  Chins In oeder to improve the existing situation. this essay put forward some suggestions o the objectives of culura instruction in vocabulary teaching and om bow to combine culbare with vocabulary teaching  cffectively in practical teaching procedure.

  To sturn culural instraction in vocabulary tcaching is a field  which needs much more comeem from both rescarchers and teachers, so that the quality of vocabulary teaching an be improned



  [1]Richards,J, The role of vocabulary teaching [j]TESOL Quarterly.1976.10(1):77-89

  [2]Judd, E.L Vocabulary Teaching and TESOL: a Need for Reevaluation of existing assumptions[j]TESOL Quantarly, 1978.12(1):71-76

  [3] Werrbicka, A. Understanding Culures Through their Key Wionds [M].Oxfornd: Oxford Uninvcrsity Press, 1997.7

  [4] Allen, V.F. Techeiques in Teaching Vocabulary [M] Oxford University Press, 1983.1-29

  [5] Schmim, N. and M. MeCarthy. Vocabulary: Descriptioe, Aoquisition and Pedagogp[M] Shanghai:; Shanghai Foreign Langtage Educational Press, 1997.109-228

  [6] Wilkins, D.A. Linguistics in Language Teaching [M] London:Edwand Amold Publishers Lad., 1972.11

  [7] Mecantly, M. Vocabulary [M]. Oxfond: Oxtford University Press, 1990.37

  [8] Halliday, M.A.K. Explorations in the Functions of Language [M]London: Edward Armold, 1973.41~78



  [11] 谢静蓉.文化和词汇--以及对教学意义的思考[D].华东师范大学硕士学位论文,2004.31

  [12] 肖宁宁.词汇教学与文化[D]. 山东师范大学硕士论文,2004.63



  本文作者在综述相关的研究之后提出了具体而明确的研究间题:既往的研究虽然强调词汇与文化的关系,但是很少探讨在外语词汇教学中文化信息导入的方法问题.本文发现了研究这一问题的意义.在探讨具体方法时,作者不是主观臆断地罗列具体方法,而是对各种方法进行分类并且阐明使用这些方法的理论基础,这一点对于高职生的毕业论文来说是难能可贵的.文章结构规范,语言流畅,文献充分,举例恰当,思路清晰,结论明确.但是,作者在对相关理论进行探讨时,还稍欠深度,这需要进一步的训练. 另外该文无"目录"、"致谢"、"中英文摘要"和"关键词",不规范.


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