Language Teaching

Thinking Allowed

Research into practice: Vocabulary

I. S. P. Nationa1

a1 LALS, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand Paul.Nation@vuw.ac.nz

Editorial note

This new strand in the journal provides a space for contributors to present a personal stance either on future research needs or on the perceived current applications of research in the classroom. Like much of our current content, it echoes the historical uniqueness of this journal in terms of its rich and expert overview of recent research in the field of L2 teaching and learning. However, this new strand takes such research as its starting point and attempts to look forward, using these findings both to debate their application in the language learning classroom and also to suggest where research would be best directed in the future. Thus, the objective of both types of paper is eminently practical: contributors to the research agenda will present suggestions for what research might usefully be undertaken, given what is currently known or what is perceived to be necessary. In the research into practice papers there will be critical appraisal both of what research is, and is not, getting through to the language learning classroom, policy making, curriculum design, evaluation of teaching and/or assessment programmes, and practical suggestions made for improving such outcomes.

This article is a personal view of the application of research on vocabulary to teaching and how there are three different types or categories of relationship between that research and the teaching to which it is applied: first, where the research is not applied or not applied well, second, where it is reasonably well applied, and third, where it is over-applied. For each of these three categories, I look at what I consider to be the most important areas of research and suggest why they fit into that category. The topics covered include planning vocabulary courses, distinguishing high frequency and low frequency words, extensive reading, the deliberate learning of vocabulary, academic vocabulary and vocabulary teaching.

(Online publication August 26 2011)