Using the Lexical Approach for the Acquisition of ESP Vocabulary - Spanish Essay


Using the Lexical Approach for the Acquisition of ESP Vocabulary - Spanish Essay
Galina Kavaliauskienë and Violeta Januleviènë propose in this article that specialized vocabulary is the most important realm in teaching ESP. They also consider

that “the more words a learner knows, the larger the learner’s vocabulary is”. Also, we have to take into account another fact in what vocabulary knowledge concernes. Galina and Violeta affirm that a native speaker knows a wide range of many other words for any given word, this is the reason why the larger the combinatory possibilities of a word the learner masters, the more knowledge of specialized items s/he can use. These specialized items are called by some researchers ‘chunks of language’ (also ‘lexical phrases or items’, or ‘multi- word chunks’). According to the authors these chunks of language, which are the occurrence of lexical patterns in language use, are very important in language use and acquisition because they provide many advantages for ESP language teaching.

Michael Lewis (a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine, a columnist for Bloomberg, and a visiting fellow at the University of California) proposed in 1993 that language consisted of lexical items belonging to four major groups. The first group consists of not many words and polywords, which have usually been considered to be essential vocabulary that the learner has to memorize. The second group is collocations, which is the way in which words usually occour with each other. The acquisition of the most common ESP collocations is paramount to develop an accurate level of English. The third and fourth groups are fixed and semi-fixed expressions, which are considered to be, as well as ESP collocations, the most important types of chunks or lexical phrases, because, as native speakers use and combine them, mastering these accurately will offer the learner the possibility to understand how language works.

Related to Lewis’s theory, Galina and Violeta suggest that ESP students must learn and master high-priority vocabulary but do not need to know which category the chunks belong to. What ESP student must have in mind is the awareness of their existence and their effective learning. At this point the role of the teacher is essential for the learners to recognize chunks. S/he must spend some time to develop learners’ strategies for dealing with new lexical phrases. For this purpose they created a list of authentic passages containing the target lexical phrase so that learners are led to discover what different collocations exist for the item. As no knowledge on lexical category is needed to identify chunks of language, Galina and Violeta emphasize the use of authentic material, so that language units are learned in context, which is better for the students’ intake of ESP vocabulary. If an item is decontextualised it is more difficult to retain it in memory and consequently to master it.

Finally, Galina and Violeta recommend for the students not to forget the new acquired ESP vocabulary to check comprehension of authentic passages, to practice, to revise and to consolidate. They suggest a specific activities for each recommendation, namely, a ‘fill in the blanks’ exercise to the comprehension check; oral practice for the second and ‘role-play’, ‘problem solving’, ‘discussions’, or ‘pictorial schemata’ exercises to revise and consolidate the vocabulary.

In conclusion, ESP learners become aware of lexical phases and identify them thanks to Galina and Violeta’s lexical approach method, because they do not have to concentrate on lexical categories but on the structures of the phrases or chunks. It is worth to say that multi-word chunks is a challenge for second language acquisition because it reinforces the student's spontaneous availability to use ESP items.
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