In modern approaches to comprehension and vocabulary learning the focus has shifted from product to process. Text comprehension is seen as a process where the reader actively constructs meaning. The reader builds a mental representation of the textual meaning based on information in the text and on the activation of complementary knowledge resources (JohnsonLaird, 1983; van Dijk & Kintsch, 1983).

This has great impact on how vocabulary needs to be taught as it means that in order to ensure better encoding, the same word could be represented in different forms and thus stored in different memory systems that would make recall and retrieval easier for the learner. From my own experience this is the most important reason to introduce different games and activities to help our students build and retain vocabulary mainly at the first stages of young learners. In the era of technology, teachers have a great variety of online webpages to use in this area. We could also refer to electronic materials creation which include informational resources, exercises and activities that teachers can create themselves and which students can use on a computer as a web page or CD-Rom content, or even in printed form. There are so many webpages available on the Internet, both for learners and for other teachers if you decide you want to share them , which feature a variety of different exercise types such as word searches, multiple choice, true/false, drag and drop, matching text to images or text to sound, hangman and so on.

As we can see, when multiple channels like visual, sound, music, verbal cues, etc are presented , an enriched environment is presented to students which results in better learning, retention, association and decoding. Activities created online can be solved by learners entirely online, at school or at home, although some could also be suitable for printing. This could be ideal for exam preparation classes or also, a motivating way of practising and rehearsing vocabulary at the beginning or ending of a class. One of the major advantages of using a site is that it allows teachers to build up a manageable collection of exercises, making it easier to address the individual problems of particular learners.

To sum up, technology gives teachers loads of possibilities to help students acquire and retain new words in attractive and lively ways, which have undoubtedly been introduced and contextualized previously. It is time to learn, create, use and share our own electronic materials in class. Indeed, it is about the practical application of technology to teaching vocabulary as a first step!

Patricia Ielmini

Useful resources:

“How to teach English with technology” by Gavin Dudeney and Nicky Hockly.

JOURNAL OF LANGUAGE AND LINGUISTIC STUDIES ISSN: 1305-578X Journal of Language and Linguistic Studies, 11(2), 23-38; 2015

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