Concept of Vocabulary

1.    The Concepts of Vocabulary
a.    What is Vocabulary?
Vocabulary is very important in language. When we learn the language it means that we learn the words of the language. Vocabulary can be defined, toughly as, the words taught in the foreign language.  However, a new term of vocabulary may be more a single word, which is made up of two or three words but express a single idea.
To make it clear to the explanation in this case, we can discuss some definitions of vocabulary stated by some experts below.
Good (1959) in Dictionary of Education defines vocabulary as: 1) the content and function words of a language which learned so thoroughly that they become a part of the students understanding, speaking, later reading, and writing vocabulary, and 2) words having meaning when heard or seen even though not produced by the individual himself to communication with other.
While, Hornby (2000) in Advance Learner’s of Current English says that vocabulary is: 1) All the words that a person knows or uses, 2) All the words in a particular language, 3) The words that people use when they are talking, 4) A list of words with their meaning in a book for learning a foreign language.
In line with this, Webster (1983) states that vocabulary is a list of words and sometimes, phrases, usually arranged in alphabetical order defined as a dictionary, glossary, or lexicon; all the words of a language; and all the words used by a particular person, class, profession, etc.
Observing all definitions having been formulated by the experts above, we can conclude that vocabulary is the meaning of the words, English language in the broadest sense used not only in speaking and writing, but also in reading and listening. The meaning vocabulary is not the meaning in isolation, but also the meaning according to the context. The meaning of words we find in dictionary is one of the very frequent meanings attached to the words

b.    Types of Vocabulary
Vocabulary is the stock of lexical items in a language. For the purpose of learning and teaching activities, it can be classified into two kinds, namely receptive and productive vocabulary. Receptive vocabulary refers to words for lexical items which only can be recognized and comprehended in the context of reading and listening material. Productive vocabulary refers to words which can be recalled and used appropriately in writing and speech. Sometimes they are so difficult to be distinguished because a word that a student has in his or her receptive store may suddenly become productive if the situation or context provokes to be a permanent state of affairs.
Harmer (1991) states that there are two types of vocabulary:
1.    Active vocabulary refers to the vocabulary that the students have been taught or have learned and which they are expected to be able to use.
2.    Passive vocabulary refers to the vocabulary that the students do not frequently use but can be recognized and understood the meaning both in textual and oral contexts.
Similarly, Legget et., al. (1982) point out that in a sense, every person has two types of vocabulary:
1)    Passive or recognition vocabulary which is made up of the words. One recognizes in the context or reading material, but he does not actually use himself.
2)    Active vocabulary which consists of working words. One uses daily in writing and speaking.
While Schail (1967) states that everyone has three types of vocabulary as follows:
1)    Active. These are the words one customarily uses in speaking. The active vocabulary probably runs from 5.000 to 10.000 words.
2)    Reserve. These words are known but rarely use in ordinary speech. One will use them in writing a letter, or when he has time to consider or when he is searching for a synonym.
3)    Passive. The words one recognizes vaguely but is not sure of the meanings. He never uses them in either writing or speech. He just knows that he has seen them before.

And more specific of vocabulary division is pointed out by Good (1959), which can be divided into four types:
1)    Oral vocabulary refers to words that a person employs them in expressing ideas orally and actively.
2)    Writing vocabulary refers to words that commonly used in writing.
3)    Listening vocabulary refers to words that a person can understand when they are heard.
4)    Reading vocabulary refers to words that someone can recognize them when he finds them in written form.

c.    The Importance of Vocabulary
A good command of vocabulary is one of the most important aspects in learning foreign language, like English, because the ability of the language learners to read and comprehend the subject is relatively determined by their vocabulary command. A large vocabulary helps you to express your ideas precisely. Vividly and without repeating yourself in composition, you cannot do well in comprehension without a large vocabulary, for the passages and questions involve a range of words much wider than that of daily conversation.
Every one has two kinds of vocabulary which are often called passive and active vocabulary. Passive vocabulary is made of all those words one recognizes in written and oral content. The second consists of the words which are actually used in everyday speaking and writing.
Smith and Johnson (1980) categorized the processing and utilization of individual’s vocabulary as follows:
Process     :        Oral     Written
Receptive     :        Listening    Reading
Productive     :        Speaking    Writing
    This figure indicates that we receive vocabulary through bout auditory (listening) and visual (reading). We generate or produce language both orally (speaking) and through the medium or print (writing).
The problem of foreign learners of English concerning English vocabulary is how to recognize the words in reading. For students’ who learn to read, enriching passive vocabulary is an essential task.
 In order to communicate well through English, the learners need to know a lot of vocabulary. Knowing a lot of vocabulary by means of communication process may not be separated from the importance of the functional approach of the language. Having a lot of vocabulary can help the learners to the progression according to the functional needs.
After the students learn some words, they do not encounter those words very often in a new context or passage, those words are easy to forget, because the students are not familiar with or accustomed to those words. So habituation and practice seems to be very important to maintain and improve of using proper vocabulary in some situation.

d.    The Principle of Teaching and Learning Vocabulary
As we know that learning a foreign language is more difficult. So in this case, to learn a foreign language includes English, it is necessary to use a certain method in teaching a lesson to the students.
In the process of teaching, particularly the teaching of a foreign language, method serves as an important factor, and should be given special attention and high priority in order to achieve the goal of teaching.
To create a successful vocabulary teaching, it is concerned with factors to consider in choosing vocabulary. So the teacher should have the procedures or methods to teach vocabulary. Also the teacher must decide the appropriate technique needed for teaching different item types.
Wallace (1989) indicates nine principles of teaching and learning vocabulary as follows:
1.    Aims
In teaching vocabulary, we have to be clear about our aims, how many of vocabulary listed we expect learners to be able to grasp what we have been taught. If it is not clear on this point, it will be difficult to assess how successful the vocabulary learning we have taught to our students.
2.    Quantity
Having decided on what involved in vocabulary learning, we may then decide on the quantity of vocabulary to be taught, the number of new words that our students can learn. If we expect the words that will be taught become part of the student’s active vocabulary, then we put the number of words as low as around five to seven new words.  Clearly, the actual number will depend on a number of factors varying from class to class and learner to leaner. When there are too many words, the students may become confused, discouraged, and frustrated.
3.    Need
To decide what vocabulary is to be taught to the students, the teachers use courses book or syllabus.
In any cases, the teachers in choosing the vocabulary to be taught will refer to the aims of the course and the objectives of individual lessons. It is also possible for the teachers, in a sense, to give the responsibility of choosing vocabulary to be taught to the students. In other words the students are put in a situation where they have to communicate the words they need, as they need them, using the teachers as in informant.
4.    Frequent Exposure and Repetition
In teaching and learning vocabulary, there have to be certain amount of repetition until there is evidence that the students can recognize the target words. The simplest ways of checking that the learning had been done is by seeing whether the students can recognize the target words and identify their meanings. If the words are to be part of the students’ productive vocabulary, they must be given an opportunity to use them as often as necessary to recall the words with the correct stress and pronunciation.
5.    Meaningful Presentation
In the presenting the vocabulary lessons, the students must have a clear and specific understanding of what words denoted or referred to. This requires that the words will be presented in such a way that their denotation and references are perfectly clear and unambiguous.
6.    Situation Presentation
The way in presenting the words should be appropriate to students’ situation. With a favorable condition, enough time consuming and a convenient method, the students will automatically success in learning vocabulary.
7.    Presenting in Context
Words very seldom occur in isolation, so it is important for the students to know the usual collocation that words occur in. Collocations are words that are commonly associated. In this sense, through reading material, new words or unfamiliar words can be presented as a medium in teaching vocabulary.
8.    Learning Vocabulary
Learning vocabulary in the mother tongue and in target language. In teaching the target words, teacher may use words of the mother tongue as a tool to compare similarities and differences of the words.
Wallace (1989) states that there are five steps to learn or to achieve vocabulary in the mother tongue and in the target language as follows:
a.    There is a felt need.
b.    The learner is exposed to an enormous quantity of his own language with tremendous scope for repetition of what he learns.
c.    The learners control his own rate of learning
d.    The target language is nearly always encountered in appropriate situation and in the appropriate context.
e.    Since the words are learnt as they arise out a felt need in a particular situation, they usually have their denotation.
9.    Inference (Guessing) Procedures in Vocabulary Learning
Guessing is also one of the strategies in learning vocabulary in which it leads students to think the meaning of the words taught. The students infer the meaning of words by listening or reading them used in certain context and certain situation.

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