Apr 2, 2011

Cycles of Recycling: Cycle 1

Simple but effective activities for recycling lexis

Photo by Ian Britton via FreeFoto.com
[CC BY-NC-ND 3.0]
While researchers do not agree whether encountering words in context or engaging in decontextualized practice is more conducive to learning new vocabulary, most assert that multiple encounters with the word are necessary. Also, there is no agreement in the literature on how many encounters with a lexical item are necessary in order for the learner to retain it, with numbers varying between 6 and 16. Despite this, most would agree that frequent recycling is essential to the effective vocabulary learning.


Unfortunately, coursebooks do not provide enough repeated encounters with lexical items. While learners may be exposed to the same lexis within a particular unit, few coursebooks ensure that the same lexis is recycled across the textbook, i.e. over a series of units. It is therefore our responsibility as teachers to ensure lexical items our students encounter are recycled in subsequent lessons and regularly revised.


Lexis vs vocabulary

The word “lexis” is used here in contrast to the word “vocabulary” to emphasise the fact that we talk about collocations and lexical chunks as opposed to individual words. There are many ways to revise individual words: students can be given cards with words and cards with definitions and asked to match them or fill the gaps with the missing words. However teaching collocations and chunks require slightly different techniques.

Some simple suggestions given below will help you with recycling and revising lexis studied in class. Most of the activities presented here do not require much prep time and can themselves be reused and recycled in subsequent lessons (albeit with minor modifications) to save your time.

Collocation pairs

This is an easy-to-prepare and engaging activity which provides decontextualised practice of the collocations students have come across. It can be used as a post-reading activity or as a revision activity to consolidate the language covered in previous lessons.
You can type it up on Word or simply write with markers or felt-tip pens on cut up pieces of paper.

Activity 1 – Find your pair


Click here for WORKSHEET - needs cutting up.
Click here for DRAG&DROP EXERCISE


sharp…
…eye
quick…
…mind
famous…
…painting
deadly…
…weapon
scientific…
…discovery
visual…
…image
designer…
…boutique
expensive…
…restaurant
tourist…
…attraction
industrial…
…city
international…
…journal
highest…
…award
Distribute the collocation cards randomly. Ask your students to stand up and mingle and find their partner. Tell them to sit together with their new partner. Go over the answers or display them on the board if necessary.

NB: I normally use multiple dots to indicate whether the word is first in the pair or second especially if you include noun + noun combinations (like designer boutique where designer act as an adjective) or if you include –ing words which can be either adjectives or nouns e.g. (sleeping bag or poor sleeping)

All the collocations above were taken from two texts in Unit 1 of Mind Matters, published by ECB. As a follow up, you can ask students to sort these collocations into two groups. The first five collocations are from the text about Leonardo da Vinci and the last six appear in the text about the Gugenheim Museum in Bilbao. Ask your students to recall why they were used and what they refer to. Students can look back at the texts to see if they were correct. “Visual image” was added as a distractor but can be easily related to either article.


Activity 2 – Collocation swap

For this activity you will need the same number of collocations as students in the class which means it can be used to consolidate lexis from several topics covered in class. Verb + noun collocations below appear in another unit in the same textbook.

raise…
…money
make…
…a difference
solve…
…a problem
pay off…
…your debts
join…
…an organization
have…
…access (to)
finance…
…a new project
clean up…
…the town
get…
…involved
go…
...shopping
donate…
...money to charity
achieve…
…a goal

Give each student one first part and one second part. Ask them to look at their cards and see if they match. If they do, retrieve the ones that match and redistribute as necessary. Ask your students to stand up and find the nouns (second half) for the adjectives or verbs (first half) they have and give the nouns to other students that need them to complete their collocations. Once they have found the second half and got rid of the first they can sit down. Early finishers can be asked to write a sentence. The activity continues until everyone has found their matches and sat down with them.

Activity 3 – Matching & Sorting

You will need all the previous lists (20 – 25 collocations). Make a few sets and cut them up. Give each group of 5-6 students an envelope with the collocation cards. However this time after matching them they have to sort them according to different criteria:

·   Gramatically: adjective + noun / verb + noun collocations
·   Thematically: categorise them according to topics
·   Collocations with positive vs negative connotation
·   Any other another categorizing principle learners can come up with

Activity 4 – Recall the collocation

In a subsequent lesson remove the parts of collocations and ask students to recall what the other half is. For example:


solve…
a problem
pay off…
your debts
donate…
money to charity
achieve…
a goal
deadly…
weapon
designer…
boutique
clean up…
the town
join…
an organisation
have…
…access (to)
go…
...shopping
raise…
…money
make…
…a difference

As you can see, either part can be removed. But bear in mind that delexical verbs such as make, do, get etc have a large number of possible collocates. Therefore stronger collocations (e.g. achieve a goal, solve a problem or deadly weapon) would work better for this activity.


Interested in more ideas for recycling lexis? Follow this link to read about Cycle 2.

The article first appeared in the ETAI Forum

2 comments:

  1. Hi Leo, a great blog post and a useful idea that I'll certainly be using - thanks again for your contribution to the show and tell session at the IATEFL LTSIG PCE!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Graham
    I am glad you liked the idea. I've just posted another Cycle of Recycling activities (Cycle 2) which is roughly what I presented during my impromptu show and tell session in Brighton.
    Hope to see you next year.
    L

    ReplyDelete

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