Smanova G.I., Zhekebayeva R.D., Taitelieva M.A., Baygutova D. N.

Some Methods of Introduction of New Vocabulary in Cross-Cultural Learning

Smanova G.I., candidate of pedagogical sciences, deputy associate professor
Zhekebayeva R.D., master of pedagogical sciences
Taitelieva M.A., master of pedagogical sciences
Baygutova D. N., candidate of philology, associate professor
South Kazakhstan State Pedagogical Institute,
Baytursynov str. 13, Shymkent, Kazakhstan


The article deals with some methods of teaching new vocabulary in cross-cultural learning. The authors use a wide range of techniques in order to allow students to memorize new words and to use them correctly in their speech. It is important to present new lexicon in an already familiar lexical environment, incorporated in grammatical structures that have already been mastered.

Keywords: education, cross-cultural communication, multicultural society, acquisition of knowledge, lexical skills

“The limits of my language are the limits of my mind. All I know is what I have words for”
Ludwig Wittgenstein

In modern multicultural informative society, foreign language becomes an indispensable condition for professional mobility, career development, and social protection. In these circumstances, the importance of readiness to foreign language intercultural communication gets an essential topicality.

Considerable attention has been paid to lexical components of language competence in the methodology of teaching foreign languages during the last decade, which could be explained by rethinking the nature of language in general and of lexical units in particular. For example, some contemporary authors reject the structural approach while considering the linguistic units; according to them the lexicon is filled with grammatical structures and its acquisition does not require much effort. Interest in the language units has increased in the publications of recent years; in different studies they are called lexical units, lexical phrases, prefabricated units, complex compound forms, multi- word chunks (Crystal 1995, p 163;. Lewis 1997, p 15).

In this regard, a great responsibility rests on the scope of pedagogical education. The transition to new educational standards should be implemented in training programs for an innovative type of foreign language teachers, designed to ensure the formation of humanistic values. It should envisage cooperation and co-creation schedules with students, beaconing for their self-realization in pedagogical activities.

Contemporary advanced teachers should be apt to perform the cross-cultural communication in a foreign-language, effectively teach it to their students and to form their readiness to implement cross-cultural dialogues; in short, they must have a highly professional competence, a key component of which is a foreign language communicative competence.

Most of the ongoing researches aim teachers at an activation of the arbitrary memory resources of students, which means that they are to take responsibility for the acquisition of knowledge themselves. It is important to note that the introduction of new components of learning does not only involve the upgrading of the trainings’ contents, but also implies the search for and development of adequate training facilities, which do not always match up to requirements of an effective foreign language teaching process. Although didactic means do not exert a decisive influence on the ultimate results of educational work, however, they may facilitate acquisition of knowledge. They must only be properly selected and skillfully included in methods used by teacher and in forms of organizational learning. It can enrich the use of teaching methods and promote the growth of their efficiency.

It is known that new words could be taught contextually or discretely. Introduction to new vocabulary should be based on the teacher-sounding speech in a foreign language, as well as on various kinds of visual support. For the formation of lexical skills could be applied preparatory and speech exercises, which then must be added in communication and role-playing games, with the aim to develop students’ receptive skills, such as listening and reading. Exercises for development of lexical skills activate mental activity of students and are intended to reduce the number of lexical errors when performing communicative tasks. [1]

For the formation of lexical skills in the classes of foreign language, students need knowledge of situational, social and contextual rules, which native speakers use widely. We use many techniques in order to allow students to memorize new words and use them correctly in their speech. Some of them are: write not just words and phrases but the word in a particular context; find new words and phrases in the text; group words on various topics; find synonyms, antonyms; make proposals, using as many new words as possible. At the same time, it is advisable during lessons to carry out preparatory training exercises based on work with texts, implicating differentiated, refresher, wildcard and constructive transformations.

A crucial distinction is often made between knowing a word and using it. Knowing a word does not necessarily entail using the word automatically in a wide range of contexts (McCarthy, 1984, as cited in Adger, 2002) since for every vocabulary dimension there is a knowledge dimension and a skill dimension. Evidence suggests that the knowledge aspect requires conscious and explicit learning mechanisms whereas the skill aspect involves mostly implicit learning and memory (Ellis, 1994, as cited in Herrel, 2004). Vocabulary learning strategies therefore, should include strategies for using as well as for knowing a word. [2]

What does it mean to know a word?

Knowing a word is not an all or nothing situation; it is a complex concept. According to Dale (1989, as cited in Taylor, 1990) the extent of knowledge a person has about individual words can range from a little to a lot and it also includes qualitative connotations about words. Dale (1989, as cited in Taylor, 1990) provides a description of the extent of word knowledge in terms of 5 stages:
1. The student has no knowledge about the word;
2. The student has a general sense of the word;
3. The student has a narrow, context-bound knowledge about the word;
4. The student has a basic knowledge of the word and is able to use it in many appropriate situations;
5. The student has a rich, de-contextualized knowledge of the word and can use it in various appropriate situations.

Knowing a word implies knowing many things about the word: its literal meaning, its various connotations, its spelling, derivations, collocations, frequency, pronunciation, the sort of syntactic constructions into which it enters, the morphological options it offers and a rich variety of semantic associates such as synonyms, antonyms, homonyms (Nagy and Scott, 2000, as cited in Taylor, 1990). [2]

In order to activate vocabulary in spoken English various kinds of exercises can be used during lessons, e. g.:
- listen to the dialogue and make the same on the same topic;
- retell dialogue in a monologue form, using key words and adding details with own estimates;
- make a dialogue on the basis of keywords;
- make a dialogue based on reading your monologue, using speech clichés;
- come up with a continuation of the story read, using new words;
- make a plan of the text after listening to it;
- answer the questions in the process of reading the text that is unknown to you;
- associate every new word with different situations;
- come up with interesting proposals or situations with new words.
Thus, it is important to note that when teaching a foreign language, a new lexicon must be presented in a familiar lexical environment on the grammatical material that has been already mastered. It should also include complex exercises, educational and creative opportunities for students to use the new vocabulary in all forms of verbal communication. It is impossible to master the new lexical units without phonetics and grammar.

Such an exercise as “brainstorming” can be offered for the task on the lexical theme “Clothing”: What sort of clothes do you like to wear? Do your parents like them? What do you usually wear at university? What sort of clothes does your mother wear? What sort of clothes does your father wear? Do you like your parents’ clothes? Have you ever tried to design your own clothes yourself? What do you usually wear when you go out? Do you like to look cool? What is there in your wardrobe?


Students learn to associate the new vocabulary or target word with something they already know or something that is meaningful to them (Schmidt and Schmidt, 1995:45).

Semantic mapping

This method is used to motivate and involve students in thinking, reading and writing. It enhances vocabulary development by helping students to link new information with previous experience. This is done by making an arrangement of words into a picture, which has a key concept at the center and related words and concepts linked with the key concept.

Learning vocabulary through story innovation

The learning vocabulary through story innovation strategy was introduced by Martin and Brogan. It is a procedure for innovating sentence patterns by using the structure of a sentence to create a semantically new one through word substitutions. Story innovation is a way for learners to enjoy writing and reading and to learn vocabulary in a scaffold format. The finished product is a new text that is easy for learners to read because they are familiar with the patterns in the original story and with the new vocabulary used to create the innovation. Effective vocabulary teaching strategies enhance word retention, broaden the depth and breadth of word knowledge and therefore expedite the vocabulary development of the English language learner. [3]

During this research, we discovered new insights, challenges and possible solutions to the problems experienced by the teachers in the English classes at schools and universities. Firstly, most educational institutions have a time deficit to master the vocabulary, and secondly, teachers have limited opportunities for direct instruction. In this regard, it is important for teachers to develop creative methods to expose learners to vocabulary in many ways that develop and reinforce word meaning in the course of training as well as in and out-of educational settings. This can be done by suggesting additional reading texts and games to students that provide incentives for students to listen to new words or previously taught words outside the vocabulary lesson; one can also use word walls to display the target vocabulary.

Some teachers have also difficulty in choosing whether to concentrate on developing vocabulary or promoting extensive reading. Learners need sufficient vocabulary to read effectively, while at the same time extensive reading is a necessary component for acquiring a sufficient vocabulary. One should support and complement the other rather than contrast each other. [4]

Finally, we have come to realize the importance for English language learners to have an extensive knowledge of the breadth and depth of words. English language teachers should constantly remember that their students have not yet developed their English language proficiency to a level where they can understand all the oral and written information they encounter in English, hence the importance of effective vocabulary teaching strategies. Also, we have become aware of the fact that language is an organic entity, which constantly changes. The prospective English teacher should keep abreast of the latest developments within his/her field of competence.


1. Adger, C.T. (2002). What teachers need to know about language. McHenry, IL: Center for Applied Linguistics.
2. Herrel, A.L. (2004). Fifty strategies for teaching English language learners. An ESL teacher‘s tool kit. 2nd ed. Winnipeg. Canada. Penguin Publishers.
3. Zimmerman, C.B. (2007). Vocabulary learning methods. Cambridge Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
4. Zwiers, J. (2008). Building academic language. Newark International Reading Association.