Here are the main thoughts some of us have been chewing over on another thread. With thanks to GroovyGuzi, Incommunicado, and Dodros Jim Milton in the ALL Journal 33 (2006) p. 76: Milton wrote: "EFL learners take B2 level exams such as Cambridge First Certificate knowing at least double the vocabulary of their British direct equivalents taking the B2 A-level in French." This statement is based on research he conducted for this article: Milton J. (2006) ?Language Lite: learning French vocabulary in school?, Journal of French Language Studies 16, Cambridge University Press: 187?205. Milton also wrote (abstract): "Results suggest that learners learn about 170 words per year up to GCSE and about 530 words per year in A-level study and are influenced by word frequency. On average, learners take GCSE with under 1000 words of French vocabulary and A-level with about 2000 words. These results appear modest compared with historical data and when compared with other language exams pitched at the same CEF levels as GCSE and A-level." Milton also wrote (ALL Journal, ibid.), contrasting EFL teaching of languages with MFL teaching in Britain: "EFL teaching genuinely strives to teach students the language, and this involves teaching, amongst other things, large quantities of vocabulary which is essential for coping, in the fullness of time, with the diversity and unpredictability of real language use. [...] MFL teaching in Britain is resigned to the fact that no learners will ever be good enough actually to speak the language and that the only goal learners can possibly have in studying a foreign language is to pass GCSE with a grade C or better ? probably in furtherance of the school's league table position." Re GroovyGuzi's Milton post.... How can we broaden pupils' vocab? Genuine question! Other than handing them a vocab book and telling them to get on with it, what can we actually do? I try and place vocabulary in an authentic context as an aide-mémoire. I collect examples from the Web and from newspaper cuttings. I have posted examples of such web-based texts on my website: http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/accents/germanvoca... Here are some vocabulary-building reading comprehension exercises I compiled a while ago for Year 10 learners of German: http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/mfl/year10german/h... http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/mfl/year10german/s... http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/mfl/year10german/s... http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/mfl/year10german/l... http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/mfl/year10german/i... In answer to Petite Joueuse's question, there is substantial evidence, dating back to the 1980s, that using interactive computer programs can make a big difference to vocab acquisition. Sue Myles (now, sadly, deceased) did some research in the 1990s into the effectiveness of such programs. Some of the conclusions she reached were published in this downloadable article: Myles S. (1998) "The language learner and the software designer: a marriage of true minds or ne'er the twain shall meet?", ReCALL 10, 1: 38-45. Available at http://www.eurocall-languages.org/recall/pdf/rvol10no1.pd... It's an easy read and will give you all sorts of leads and references. Susan's research focused on four software packages that were available at the time: 1. The German Master, pub. by Cosmos 2. Vocab, pub. by Wida Software 3. Fun with Texts, pub. by Camsoft 4. Travel Talk, pub. by Libra Multimedia Only Vocab and Fun with Texts are still available. Susan's conclusions (reported to me personally) were that contextualised presentation and interactivity, as in Fun with Texts, was more effective than isolated presentation of vocab items, but when text, sound and meaning could be associated, as in Travel Talk, then retention was better, both short-term and long-term. The new Fun with Texts 4.0, by the way, allows you to associate text, sound, image, meaning and video. Caroline Grace, who was another vocab acquisition researcher at around this time, found that students (aged 18+) retained vocab better if they had access to translations of the vocab items when they were presented rather than trying to infer what they meant from context. See: Grace C. (1998a) "Retention of word meanings inferred from context and sentence-level translations: implications for the design of beginning level CALL software", Modern Language Journal 82, 4: 533-544. Grace C. (1998b) "Personality type, tolerance of ambiguity, and vocabulary retention in CALL", CALICO Journal 15, 1-3: 19-45. Heather Rendall points out in her CILT (2006) publication, Patterns and procedures: focus on phonics and grammar: ?So my first recommendation is: Every word has three attributes: a meaning, a sound and a spelling. Target language nouns will also have a gender. All four attributes should be presented immediately and simultaneously and repeatedly.? (p. 16) There are PowerPoint presentation packages available for whole-class teaching and also for individual student's home use. See Richard Hamilton's package for French, in which text, sound and translation follow on from one another. It works very well, he claims: http://www.camsoftpartners.co.uk/GCSE_PPVoc.htm My personal recommendation for acquiring vocab, which worked for me when I ws trying to pick up a bit of Polish, is EuroTalk's Talk Now package. It associates text, sound, translation and image - and in addition offers you the possibility of recording and playing back your own voice. I picked up and retained around 300 words of Polish in three weeks, using the package for around 20 minutes per day. Re GroovyGuzi's quote form Milton's research: "Results suggest that learners learn about 170 words per year up to GCSE ....." In my experience that rate of learning would apply to about the top 3rd of the ability range, maybe fewer. I doubt whether students getting lower than a grade C end up with a vocab of more than say 300 words; I stand oppen to correction of course, but I think it is an appalling state of affairs that there is no consensus as to the rate at which students acquire vocabulary, nor have any "target" in mind as to how much vocab they should acquire in any given period, according to ability. I spent a week on a teacher exchange in a school (a Gymnasium, granted) in Munich; the lexis aspired to in the kids' first year of learning English stretched to 900 words. If MFL teachers have no target figure to aim at, it is little wonder that students under-achieve in this country, when they are allowed to learn as little as they want. Vocab acquisition is always a hot topic. I haven't checked, but it may have come up before in this forum. There are stacks of research on this topic, Jim Milton and Paul Meara being prominent researchers who have published extensively on vocab acquisition. Vocab is the key to ?survival? in a language. See the VARGA website: http://www.swan.ac.uk/cals/calsres/varga/index.htm Somehow or other, MFL teachers and teacher trainers manage to ignore researchers' findings, however. Looking back through old copies of the ALL Language Learning Journal, I found another useful article by Mitlon & Meara, which also mentions vocab acquisition and vocab testing - 197 students aged 14-15 in England, France and Germany being the subject matter of their research: Milton J. & Meara P. (1998) ?Are the British really bad at learning foreign languages?? ALL Language Learning Journal 18: 68-76. It's a very useful article, highlighting some of the key problems we face in this country, lack of time devoted to teaching foreign languages being one of them. They conclude: "The British learners in this study spent less time learning, were set lower language goals and knew less vocabulary than equivalent learners on the continent. The differences are very considerable. If the British learners are indicative, then the British learners have only a half or maybe only a third of the knowledge of their continental counterparts." So to further this thread.... Ideas, please! What do YOU do to broaden your pupils' TL vocab?