Batia Laufer (Ph. D., University of Edinburgh) is Senior Lecturer of English Language and Linguistics at University of Haifa, Israel.
Ease and Difficulty in Vocabulary Learning: Some Teaching Implications
Article first published online: 31 DEC 2008
© 1990 American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages
Foreign Language Annals
Volume 23, Issue 2, pages 147–155, April 1990
How to Cite
Laufer, B. (1990), Ease and Difficulty in Vocabulary Learning: Some Teaching Implications. Foreign Language Annals, 23: 147–155. doi: 10.1111/j.1944-9720.1990.tb00355.x
- Issue published online: 31 DEC 2008
- Article first published online: 31 DEC 2008
ABSTRACT This paper discusses the relationship between ease/difficulty in learning particular words and some issues in the teaching of vocabulary.
Some factors that interfere with learning a word are claimed to be the following: similarity of form between the word and other words (embrace/embarrass, price/prize); morphological similarity between it and other words (industrial/industrious, respectable/respective); deceptive morphological structure (infallible); different syntactic patterning in L1; differences in the classification of experience between L1 and L2 (one-to-many correspondence, partial overlap in meaning, metaphorical extension, lexical voids, multiplicity of meaning); abstractness; specificity; negative value; connotations nonexistent in L1; differences in the pragmatic meaning of near synonyms and of L1 translation equivalents; the learning burden of synonyms; the apparent rulelessness of collocations.
It is argued that word learnability (ease/difficulty in learning a particular word) can serve as a guideline to the following: the selection of words to be taught; their presentation (quantity, grouping, language of presentation, isolation/ context issue); the facilitation of long-term memorization (meaningful tasks, mnemonic techniques, rote learning, reactivation); the development of strategies for self-learning; and the assessment of vocabulary knowledge.