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Passive vocabulary

Discussion in 'English' started by airy, Nov 25, 2011.

  1. I have a class where I have almost given up on the curriculum. We'll do the stuff we really have to for exams with me holding their hands through it, but most of the time I'm doing the kind of work I remember doing at Primary. Lots of reading;vocabulary work and word building exercises that I've borrowed from EAL textbooks; basic social skills in group discussion; film and radio on general knowledge topics; word banks on different every day topics...
  2. anteater

    anteater New commenter

    I'd be very interested in hearing how this is done, gruoch. Obviously you don't sit and ask them the meaning of 10,000 plus words! I can think of a couple of groups that I would like to test.
  3. gruoch

    gruoch Established commenter

    It's David Crystal's formula
    Take 1 dictionary - say with 1000 pages
    Take 10 pages at random*, throughout the dictionary, and tick every word you know the meaning of - this includes things like 'cheer', 'cheerful', 'cheerfully etc. If a word has several meanings, tick each meaning you know e.g. pace - a step or pace - a verb.
    Add up the ticks and divide by 10 to give an average per page and multiply by 1000 to give a total.*If you repeat the exercise, the total will still be in the same significant range, though will never be identical. A child with a passive vocabulary of aroung 10,000 will always comke out within tolerance.
    DC says this will still be an underestimate as it won't include slang or dialect words.
    I also ask the kids how many words they think they know. They invariably underestimate by a huge factor, so they leave the room with a great sense of pride, even if their passive vocabulary is actually that of a 6-year-old.
  4. Hi
    I too teach low ability. After much searching and studying I've finally had some success based on research originally carried out in Australia with aborigine kids. The language theory name is a bit of a turn off so I won't mention it here. It makes much more sense after reading the following extract and then clicking on the "Iceberg Metaphor". It's so simple as to what the root of problem can be for many kids. I'm surprised no one wants to "go there"!
    See http://manxman.ch/moodle2/mod/resource/view.php?id=133
    Further teaching links are on the page mentioned.
  5. I've looked at that link and I'm none the wiser.
  6. anteater

    anteater New commenter

    Thanks, gruoch - might give that a go next week.
    manxli, I can see that your iceberg thing make sense, although I would have said that it was just common sense that kids who didn't get the unconscious social grounding early on would be at a disadvantage when they come to formal schooling. What is unclear is how you can help them make up that gap, especially by the time you get to secondary.
  7. Hi Anteater
    Yep, there's no magic pill and you can't change their social environment at a swipe. They have their own social capital and school may just be unuseable 'foreign' currency to them. The strategy with functional grammar needs prolonged cyclic deconstruction and re-construction of texts in a context they can understand before 'bridging' over to academic literacy. i.e. Hard work! However, they have had impressive results in Australia, South Africa and also Scandinavian countries to date. A couple of colleagues and I have also seen marked improvements at our own school, but then again we are lucky to have the freedom to implement the strategy.
    I don't teach in the UK but have contacts 'back home' who often relate horror stories of work loads and imposed policy to me :eek:(
  8. Following links may be of interest:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgUK7GynW-w (Mary Schleppengrel Video Presentation USA)


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