Traditionally, the teaching of vocabulary has concentrated on the implicit and explicit paradigms. The first one is concerned with natural exposure to language, and is mainly developed through reading (Ma & Kelly, 2006). On the other hand, the explicit approach entails direct teacher intervention through the design of different types of activities (decontextualised, semi-contextualised and contextualised) which normally aim to promote the mastery of high-frequency vocabulary and which require more mental effort to establish the link between form and meaning (Ma & Kelly, 2006). Hence, in this paper we start by revising the aforementioned traditional schools for teaching vocabulary. Moreover, this is followed by the proposal of a third paradigm, the computer-based approach, as, in fact, vocabulary has always been very popular in CALL. In this regard, we refer to a second-generation CALL program developed by the authors with the acronym “ADELEX ─Assessing and Developing Lexical Competence through New Technologies─”. This program has been designed at the University of Granada to enhance the lexical competence of students of English Philology (cf. Pérez Basanta, 2004).
In conjunction with teaching trends, there has been an interest in learning theories in the field of vocabulary teaching, particularly concerning the processes by which lexical knowledge is internalised in what is now called the “mental lexicon”. It is widely accepted today that the more we know about vocabulary acquisition from a psycholinguistic perspective, the more teaching and learning will benefit from it (Pérez Basanta, 2003). Therefore, the second part of this paper is devoted to highlight some of the mainstream psycholinguistic assumptions involving the mental processes individuals go through when acquiring words (“context availability”, “imaginability hypothesis”, “depth of processing”, etc.) and their implications in web-based vocabulary processing. We claim that online materials can provide rich and contextual input and they are an important source for learnability as they establish the link between form, meaning and mental representation through authentic and interactive tasks.
|Keywords:||Vocabulary Acquisition, Web-based Learning, Psycholinguistics|
Research Fellow, Department of English Philology, University of Granada, Granada, Granada, Spain
Dr. Carmen Pérez Basanta is Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics at the University of Granada (Spain). Her main interests are testing, lexis, CALL and corpus linguistics. She coordinates an R&D project entitled “ADELEX: Assessing and Developing Lexis through New Technologies” (HUM2007-61766)., University of Granada, University of Granada, Granada, Granada, Spain
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