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Teaching Vocabulary to Advanced Students of English

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Teaching Vocabulary to Advanced Students of English Powered By Docstoc
					Table of Contents

Introduction ................................................................................................................................ 2
Chapter One................................................................................................................................ 5
   Introduction ............................................................................................................................ 5
   1. Advanced learners - The definition .................................................................................... 5
   2. How to teach vocabulary? .................................................................................................. 5
      2.1 What is vocabulary? ..................................................................................................... 5
      2.2 How to teach a word? ................................................................................................... 6
   3. The chunks - What advanced learners need ....................................................................... 7
      3.1 What are the chunks? ................................................................................................... 7
       3.1.1. Collocations ............................................................................................................ 7
       3.1.2. Phrasal Verbs.......................................................................................................... 7
       3.1.3. Fixed Phrases.......................................................................................................... 8
       3.1.4 Idiomatic Expressions ............................................................................................. 8
   3.2 Why chunks? .................................................................................................................... 9
      3.3. Main techniques of vocabulary acquisition ................................................................. 9
   4. Newspaper articles as a medium of teaching vocabulary to advanced learners ............... 10
      4.1. Why newspapers? ...................................................................................................... 10
      4.2 The press and press readership ................................................................................... 10
       4.2.1 Types of readership ............................................................................................... 10
       4.2.2 What type of press appeals to black-top readers? ................................................. 10
       4.2.3. What type of press appeals to red-top readers? .................................................... 10
       4.2.4 The ''mixed ground'' newspapers ........................................................................... 11
      4.3 Examples of chunks in newspaper articles ................................................................. 11
      4.4 How to teach the chunks from newspaper articles? ................................................... 12
      4.5. Example of explicit teaching technique - Idiomatic expressions ............................. 12
      4.6. Example of inferring teaching technique - Fixed phrases ......................................... 13
   5. Hypotheses ....................................................................................................................... 13
   6. Summary .......................................................................................................................... 13
Chapter Two ............................................................................................................................. 15
   Introduction .......................................................................................................................... 15
      1. The hypotheses and their justification .......................................................................... 15
      1.1 The justification.......................................................................................................... 16
      2. The Method .................................................................................................................. 16
      2.1 Participants ................................................................................................................. 16
      2.2 Measures..................................................................................................................... 17
      2.3 Procedure .................................................................................................................... 17
      2.4 Results ........................................................................................................................ 28
      2.5 Discussion .................................................................................................................. 29
   3. Summary .......................................................................................................................... 30
Conclusion ................................................................................................................................ 31
   1. Purpose of the study ......................................................................................................... 31
   2. Implications for Further Studies ....................................................................................... 32
   3. Implications for the EFL classroom ................................................................................. 33
References ............................................................................ Error! Bookmark not defined.38
Appendixes ........................................................................... Error! Bookmark not defined.40



                                                                                                                                             1
Introduction
The aim of this diploma project is to analyze various methods of teaching vocabulary to
advanced students of English. Particular attention is paid to the concept of multi-prefabricated
chunks, i.e. collocations (e.g. strong winds, but heavy rain), phrasal verbs (e.g. to take up),
fixed phrases, (e.g. in jeopardy), idiomatic expressions (e.g. make good). The main idea is
‘that fluency is based on the acquisition of a large store of fixed and semi-fixed prefabricated
items’ (Lewis, 1997:15).
       The chunks are the cornerstone of vocabulary teaching. Every language follows
certain rules and the multi-prefabricated chunks are an expression of grammatical rules found
in English. For instance, phrasal verbs have different meanings in different contexts, as a
Merriam-Webster dictionary analysis of the phrasal verb take off clearly shows. The phrasal
verb take off can function both as a transitive verb when it takes an object and an intransitive
one when it does not take an object.
       Its transitive uses include - but are not limited to – removal, e.g. take your shoes off, a
discontinuation of a process, e.g. took off the morning train, deduction, e.g. took 10 percent
off, and spending one's time away from a usual occupation or activity, e.g. took two weeks off.
In the language of slang, take off denotes to rob. Its intransitive uses include: taking away
(detraction), departing, e.g. took off for her trip, branching off (as from a main stream or
stem), taking a point of origin, beginning a leap.
       The above only shows how multifaceted the chunks in English are - and the intricacies
of meaning is precisely what advanced learners want to study.
       The reason why I have chosen this particular topic is because I enjoy expanding my
vocabulary on my own terms. This particular interest of mine makes it more sensible to work
with advanced students, because the exchange of ideas in the classroom where grammar is no
longer an issue and students do not have to look for words that often (and even if they do not
know a particular lexical item, they can use circumlocution) equals more focus on the lexicon
expansion.
       I am an advocate of ''the real world'' language rather than purely theoretical studies,
and I do think advanced students are motivated by the notion of practicality, i.e. the C1-C2
level of English means that the students are more likely to use the language merely as a tool in
achieving their goals rather than focusing on the language itself.



                                                                                                2
       From my own experience, I know that advanced learners' linguistic competence
greatly increases when they are allowed to use authentic newspapers - more so than in the
case of traditional lessons where course books are used. Newspapers by native speakers - for
native speakers contain a multitude of authentic expressions - and that is precisely what
advanced learners need. I also know that advanced learners are familiar with many linguistic
expressions - a direct consequence of their C1-C2 level. The only question is: how many
expressions do they know and how did they come across them?
       This is why I have decided to conduct my experiment in a private (Catholic) school.
The IB class seemed like a good choice, because those students would be more motivated to
study English than other non-IB students. The class I taught represented a mosaic of linguistic
ability, despite everyone sharing the label of ''advanced.'' There were students who I would
personally not classify as advanced, as well as native speakers of English - which, one could
even say, makes it a mixed-ability class despite the same outward level of the language.
       Language learning is inextricably intertwined with a person in question, more so than
mathematics, for instance, where one's cultural background is virtually of no significance.
Therefore, the implicit dynamics within a group are very important when one deals with a
language-oriented classroom.
       Personally, it was of particular interest to me how native speakers' of English (and I
consider myself lucky because there was one American English native speaker and one
British English native speaker in this particular group of students) linguistic competence
would look when juxtaposed with the other members of the class. I think that my conclusions
are interesting, to say the least, and the details of my observations regarding the matter are
described in the diploma project itself.
       I posit that advanced learners' linguistic competence greatly increases when they are
allowed to use authentic newspapers - more so than in the case of traditional lessons where
course books are used. As a result, I have prepared a multitude of materials to be used in the
classroom - course books were never used. Students did not seem to have a problem with that;
on the contrary, their reaction was favorable, a respite from the ''course book'' daily grind.
       The diploma project consists of two chapters. In the theoretical chapter 1, I provide the
definition of advanced learner according to the Common European Framework of Reference
for Languages. Then, I provide a definition of vocabulary while paying particular attention to
the concept of lexis. The concept of lexis is bigger than that of vocabulary and denotes what is
contained within our ''internal database'' we can recall and use instantaneously. I offer an
explanation that lexis can be receptive, i.e. what we are able to understand but not necessarily


                                                                                                 3
utilize in every day life, and productive, i.e. the set of lexical items we tend to use in every
day interaction with the outside world. The chapter later focuses on collocations, i.e. common
going-together patterns of words as a prelude to multi-prefabricated chunks as my main
teaching method. The ways to teach words are analyzed by citing experts in the field, most
notably Paul Nation, who offers his own perspective on teaching vocabulary and this is a
perspective I agree with. The chapter proceeds to the topic of multi-prefabricated chunks, or
prefabs as they are colloquially referred to. Michael Lewis' book, ''Implementing the Lexical
Approach'' is cited as one of the most influential works of its time. Lewis argues that “multi-
prefabricated chunks are a cornerstone of vocabulary teaching” (Lewis, 1997:3). A list of
multi-prefabricated chunks is then provided, i.e. phrasal verbs, fixed phrases, idiomatic
expressions and collocations. Their prevalence in authentic materials (mainly newspapers) is
presented. Two types of teaching - explicit and inferential - are discussed in terms of their
efficacy in advanced language classrooms.
        The practical chapter two approaches the topic of teaching advanced learners via
multi-prefabricated chunks. It is a more personal chapter, where I offer my insights into the
classroom milieu. First, I describe the participants who took part in the experiment. Second, I
explain the measures, i.e. materials used in the classroom. I present three lesson plans with the
materials used in the classroom. I describe the topics covered by the lesson plans and my
justification regarding their choice. My post-lesson reflections follow, where I present
classroom dynamics - and the causes underlying these particular dynamics. Then, I discuss
my findings by comparing them with literature. Appendixes, where one can find the materials
used, and the references follow.




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                                      Chapter One
      Advanced learners and ways of teaching them vocabulary

Introduction
The aim of this chapter is to provide the theoretical background concerning various
techniques of teaching vocabulary to advanced learners of English. In section 1, the definition
of the term ''advanced learner'', according to the Common European Framework of Reference
for Languages, Teaching, Assessment will be provided. In section 2, a detailed overview of
vocabulary teaching methods will be presented. In section 3, the focus will shift toward
advanced learners and the question of which techniques are to be used to improve their
linguistic competence. In section 4, I will focus on newspaper articles as a medium of
teaching vocabulary to advanced learners of English. In section 5, the research hypotheses to
be tested in the second chapter will be outlined. Section 6 offers a summary of the chapter.



1. Advanced learners - The definition
One of the most common definitions of the C1-C2 level is the following one, according to the
Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, Teaching, Assessment (CEFR,
p. 110): ''A learner at the C1-C2 level can express him/herself at length with a natural,
effortless, unhesitating flow. He/She pauses only to reflect on precisely the right words to
express his/her thoughts or to find an appropriate example or explanation.''
       For the purpose of this diploma project, it is paramount to expand the above definition
by adding that a learner at the C1-C2 level can convey finer shades of meaning precisely by
using, with reasonable accuracy, a wide range of qualifying devices (e. g. adverbs, expressing
degree, clauses expressing limitations, etc.).
       One of the major problems surrounding the topic of C1-C2 students is that, this is an
area rarely dealt with in ELT materials, and as such occupies a spot in an underappreciated,
undervalued and yet important element of the student ability spectrum (Maley 2009: 75:80).



2. How to teach vocabulary?
2.1 What is vocabulary?
Vocabulary typically refers mainly to single words and sometimes to very tightly linked two-
or three-word combinations, such as stock market, compact disc, sky blue, go off.



                                                                                               5
       Vocabulary is sometimes known as lexis, which reflects a fundamental shift in
understanding and approach. The concept of lexis, however, is bigger than that of vocabulary.
Lexis denotes what is contained within our ''internal database'' of words that we can recall and
use quickly without having to construct new phrases and sentences. Lexis can be receptive
(lexical items we are capable of understanding but do not really use in every day speech) and
productive - lexical items we tend to use in every day speech (Scrivener 2005: 226).
       Common going-together patterns of words (collocations) and larger combinations of
words which are typically used together as if they were a single item (chunks) are of
particular value to advanced learners of English, who want to focus on real-life practical
aspects of the language as much as possible. Due to the advent of modern technology -
especially huge computer databases containing real-life language use known as corpora - our
understanding of how language works in real-life has changed dramatically, which becomes
an enormous educational asset to advanced learners (ibid.: 227).



2.2 How to teach a word?
In order to successfully teach a word, there is a set of principles which need to be adhered to.
There is seldom a one-to-one relationship between L1 and L2 words, and the processes of
learning an L1 and an L2 are potentially different because of age, cognitive maturity, the way
a society categorizes the real world, etc. (Schmitt and McCarthy 1997: 129).
       In an article entitled ''Teaching Vocabulary'', Nation (2005) presents three stages that
need to be considered when teaching a particular lexical item.
       Stage 1 involves giving the meaning quickly by (a) using an L1 translation, (b) using a
known L2 synonym or a simple definition in the L2, (c) showing an object or a picture, (d)
giving quick demonstration, (e) drawing a simple picture or diagram, (f) breaking the word
into parts and giving the meaning of the parts and the whole word (the word part strategy), (g)
giving several example sentences with the word in context to show the meaning, (h)
commenting on the underlying meaning of the word and other referents.
       Stage 2 is based on drawing attention to the form of the word by (a) showing in what
way the spelling of the word is similar to the spelling of known words, (b) giving the stress
pattern of the word and its pronunciation, (c) showing the prefix, stem and suffix that make up
the word, (d) getting the learners to repeat the pronunciation of the word, (e) writing the word
on the board, (f) pointing out any spelling irregularity in the word.




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        Stage 3 includes paying attention to the use of the word by (a) quickly showing the
grammatical pattern the word fits into (countable/uncountable, transitive/intransitive, etc.), (b)
giving a few similar collocates, (c) mentioning any restrictions on the use of the word (formal,
colloquial, impolite, only used in the United States, only used with children, old-fashioned,
technical, infrequent), (d) giving a well known opposite, or a well known word describing the
group or lexical set it fits into.
        Traditional models of language - or at least models of Western European languages -
are generally built on grammatical principles with the clause or sentence being the focal unit.
In such models, connections are the syntactic relationships between elements in the clause or
sentence (Carter and Simpson 2004: 152).



3. The chunks - What advanced learners need
3.1 What are the chunks?
In 1993, Michael Lewis published the ground-breaking book ''The Lexical Approach''. In it,
and in his subsequent book, ''Implementing the Lexical Approach'' (1997), he posits that
language does not consist of traditional grammar and vocabulary but often of multi-
prefabricated chunks, sometimes colloquially referred to as ''prefabs''. Those chunks are the
cornerstone of vocabulary teaching. Lewis (1997:3) states that the chunks are usually divided
into the following (there are variations, depending on the source - but Lewis is the originator
of the idea): collocations, phrasal verbs, fixed phrases, and idiomatic expressions. Each of
these classes will be briefly discussed below.



3.1.1. Collocations
Collocations represent the way words combine in a language to produce natural sounding
speech and writing. The combination of words follows certain rules, peculiar to each
language. For example: strong wings, but heavy rain. The word collocation is derived from
the   verb    to   collocate,    meaning    ''to   set   or   arrange   in   a   set   or   position''.
(http://www.literaturacomparata.ro/acta_site/articole/acta4/acta4_gogalniceanu.pdf)



3.1.2. Phrasal Verbs
A group of words that functions as a verb and is made up of a verb and a preposition, an
adverb, or both. Take off and look down on are phrasal verbs (Merriam Webster Learners'



                                                                                                     7
dictionary - http://www.learnersdictionary.com/search/phrasal%20verb). Phrasal verbs have
different meanings in different contexts, as a Merriam-Webster dictionary analysis of the
phrasal verb take off clearly shows. The phrasal verb take off can function both as a transitive
verb when it takes an object and an intransitive one when it does not take an object.
       Its transitive uses include - but are not limited to – removal, e.g. take your shoes off, a
discontinuation of a process, e.g. took off the morning train, deduction, e.g. took 10 percent
off, and spending one's time away from a usual occupation or activity, e.g. took two weeks off.
In the language of slang, take off denotes to rob.
       Its intransitive uses include: taking away (detraction), departing, e.g. took off for her
trip, branching off (as from a main stream or stem), taking a point of origin, beginning a leap
or spring, leaving the surface, beginning a flight, embarking on a rapid activity, springing into
popularity.



3.1.3. Fixed Phrases
Within this category there are some words that are commonly used in combination with one
another but are not necessarily included as entry words in most dictionaries. Some of these
fixed phrases represent virtually the only way in which the word is used in contemporary
English. For example, in jeopardy appears as a phrase synonymous to liable because a person
exposed to something dangerous or undesirable is a person in jeopardy. The word jeopardy is
generally only used in the phrase in jeopardy. Another example of a fixed phrase would be
golden opportunity. It is possible to say silver opportunity, but the phrase would not carry the
same cultural connotation, i.e. it would be a grammatically correct phrase which sounds
unnatural to native speakers. There are cases when fixed phrases function as idioms, red
herring, for example.
(http://www.merriam-webster.com/help/thesnotes/phrases.htm)



3.1.4 Idiomatic Expressions
Idioms are phrases that have a special meaning that is different from the literal meaning that a
person would get by adding together the individual meanings of the components of the
phrase. For example, the phrase make good is virtually meaningless if one attempts to piece
together the literal meanings of make and good. As a fixed phrase, however, make good
means "to reach a desired level of accomplishment" and is a synonym of succeed.
(http://www.merriam-webster.com/help/thesnotes/phrases.htm)


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3.2 Why chunks?
To Lewis (1997), his method is not a mere shift of emphasis from grammar to vocabulary.
Rather, Lewis argues, it is essential to shift the focus away both from grammar and
vocabulary, and adopt a more global approach, where each part of what constitutes a language
is going to be properly utilized to maximize the results of second language acquisition.
       The main idea is that fluency is based on the acquisition of a large store of fixed and
semi-fixed prefabricated items (Lewis, 1997:15).
       Language fluency is measured by the level of communicative competence; and
communicative competence is not merely a matter of knowing the rules for the composition
of sentences but rather a matter of knowing a stock of partially pre-assembled patterns as well
as the discernment necessary to make adjustments according to contextual demands
(Widdowson, 1989:135).



3.3. Main techniques of vocabulary acquisition
There are two basic teaching techniques most closely associated with vocabulary acquisition:
explicit teaching and inferred teaching.
       Explicit teaching involves directing students' attention toward a specific learning in a
highly structured environment. Explicit instructions begin with setting the stage for learning,
followed by an explanation of what to do, then students are shown what to do by the teacher,
which is followed by multiple opportunities of practice. One of the most characteristic
features of explicit teaching is teachers’ thinking out loud while presenting the process of
problem-solving to their students (Schmitt and McCarthy 1997: 239).
       A diametrically different technique is called ''Inference''. The method revolves around
the ability to deduce the meaning and situation correctly based on the prior knowledge the
students possess, i.e. inference from the context. Examples of a task focused on inference can
be, find 10 ways to say shut the window! (ibid.: 228).




                                                                                                 9
 4. Newspaper articles as a medium of teaching vocabulary to advanced
learners
4.1. Why newspapers?
Advanced learners have already mastered the language and need to focus on more lexical
aspects of English. People who read more know more vocabulary. This relationship between
print exposure and vocabulary appears to be causal in that it holds even when intelligence is
controlled (Stannovich and Cunningham, 1992: 153).
       Thus, choosing newspapers - the medium of written communication filled with ever-
changing lexical items - as their focal point is an obvious choice.



4.2 The press and press readership
4.2.1 Types of readership
Black-top readers are generally more interested in serious news stories and want to read an
opinion that agrees with their own. Red-top readers are often interested more in light
entertainment and gossip. Tabloids are most popular among this type of readership (McNair
1995: 19-27).



4.2.2 What type of press appeals to black-top readers?
This type of readership prefers broadsheets. Broadsheets are generally thought to be purview
of high-quality journalism, but they are also large and cumbersome, unsuited to reading on
public transport (hence the name). Examples of broadsheets include the Sunday Times and the
Financial Times (ibid.: 19-27).



4.2.3. What type of press appeals to red-top readers?
Tabloids are most popular among this type of readership. Tabloid newspapers have such a
poor journalistic reputation that broadsheet-quality newspapers which have decided to take on
a tabloid size have instead called the format ‘compact’ in order to avoid the many negative
connotations of tabloid newspapers – connotations that those same broadsheets likely helped
to reinforce in the past. Examples of tabloid newspapers include the Daily Mail and the Sun
(ibid.: 19-27).




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4.2.4 The ''mixed ground'' newspapers
Certain newspapers decided to implement the strategy of a ‘golden mean’, whereby they
combine the elements of tabloid with that of high-quality newspapers. Two formats employ
that style – Berliner and compact. The hybridization of newspaper format is a pragmatic
decision as it offers considerable leeway in terms of layout and design. The Guardian began
printing in Berliner format in 2005, after competing broadsheet newspapers had switched to
the tabloid or ‘compact’ format. Interestingly, the ‘compact’ format is identical to the
‘tabloid’ size format, but broadsheet-quality newspapers decided to use the term ‘compact’ in
order to avoid negative connotations associated with the lexical item ‘tabloid’ (ibid.: 19:27).
       Newspapers are filled with examples of chunks because manipulating them impacts
the readership in desired ways. Examples of collocations, phrasal verbs, fixed phrases and
idiomatic expressions which are found in authentic press materials are now going to be
presented.



4.3 Examples of chunks in newspaper articles
Collocations

‘’We are taking the air out of the golden parachute’’. Financial Times, 15th October 2010.
Golden Parachute is defined by Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (www.merriam-
webster.com) as an employment agreement that guarantees a key executive lucrative
severance benefits if control of the company changes hands followed by management shifts
and comes from financial register.

Phrasal Verbs
''More and more people are becoming impecunious and we are just not going to keep up with
this nonsense''. The Guardian, 25th November 2010.
       It is noteworthy that high-quality newspapers are not going to explain various lexical
items, because journalists working for those newspapers assume the readers are educated and
familiar with the terms. For example, The Guardian - English bourgeois newspaper - uses
words such as impecunious, which are not typically a part of less educated people’s lexis. In
the context of the sentence, More and more people are becoming impecunious and we are just
not going to keep up with this nonsense, it is clear the word impecunious is juxtaposed with
the phrasal verb keep up for a tongue-in-cheek effect due to the fact phrasal verbs are viewed




                                                                                              11
as informal by many speakers. (http://www.britishcouncil.org/burma-library-services-learn-
english-online-english-language-article-it-calls-for-idiomatic-expression.htm)
Fixed Phrases
‘’The plaintiff’s claim that Mr Rajaratnam and his family’s foundation transferred millions of
dollars to the Tamil Relief Organisation puts his reputation in jeopardy''. The Times, 31st
October 2009.
Idiomatic Expressions

''Ian Powell remains at the helm of PricewaterhouseCoopers. The CEO says there's a lot to be
done''.

          The premise regarding advanced learners focuses on vocabulary acquisition, whereby
fluency is based on the acquisition of a large store of fixed and semi-fixed prefabricated items
(Lewis, 1997:15). Thus, the analysis of the teaching process itself is crucial.




4.4 How to teach the chunks from newspaper articles?
The topic focusing on the methods of teaching advanced students is an underappreciated,
undervalued and yet important element of ELT which cannot be ignored because, sooner or
later, teachers are going to be faced with advanced students of English. (Maley 2009: 75:80).
Thus, the model of inference and explicit teaching proposed by Schmitt and McCarthy
(1997:228:239) is particularly useful when it comes to proficient learners because it was
created with them in mind.
          The following are examples of inferring and explicit teaching techniques,
demonstrated on two sets of lexical items discussed: idiomatic expressions and fixed phrases.



4.5. Example of explicit teaching technique - Idiomatic expressions
A sentence ''CEOs are at the helm of their companies'' contains an idiomatic expression at the
helm. The meaning behind this idiomatic expression could be taught in the following way: the
teacher first asks the students if they know the meaning of two words helm and CEO. These
are C1-C2 level students, which means it is highly likely some students are going to be
familiar with these particular lexical items. Afterwards, the students will undoubtedly
recognize that the lexical item helm is associated with the nautical register. Based on that
knowledge, the teacher asks students who is the most important person on a ship. The


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students are bound to answer ''captain'', which can then be used to say, ''CEOs are captains,
but their boats are companies they lead. They are at the helm of their companies''.



4.6. Example of inferring teaching technique - Fixed phrases
Inferring from the context can be applied to an expression ''too big to fail''. Given the current
economic climate, a short description of the circumstances in which the term is used, e.g. the
banks are too big to fail - if the banks fail, the entire financial system fails and everyone is in
trouble. Based on that short sentence, the students should be able to deduce the meaning of
the expression correctly.



5. Hypotheses
I posit that advanced learners' linguistic competence greatly increases when they are allowed
to use authentic newspapers - more so than in the case of traditional lessons where course
books are used. Newspapers by native speakers - for native speakers contain precisely what
advanced learners need - a multitude of authentic expressions.
My second hypothesis asserts that advanced learners are familiar with many multi-
prefabricated chunks prior to actually studying them - the latter being a direct consequence of
their C1-C2 level.



6. Summary
Chapter one has focused on advanced learners of English and problems they encounter in the
ELT environment. First, the definition of an advanced learner has been provided based on the
Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, Teaching and Assessment.
Afterwards, the analysis of vocabulary teaching methods has been offered in terms of the
three stages a student needs to go through if he/she is to grasp the meaning of a new lexical
item. Then, the idea put forward by Michael Lewis in his 1993 book, ''The Lexical
Approach'', has been outlined. Lewis posits that language consists of multi-word prefabricated
chunks, which is crucial when teaching advanced learners because they have already mastered
basic aspects of the language such as grammar and their proficiency allows them to focus
solely on the multi-word prefabricated chunks, which include: collocations, phrasal verbs,
fixed phrases and idiomatic expressions. Schmitt and McCarthy (1997: 228:239) have
specified two teaching methods that are particularly effective when dealing with advanced



                                                                                                13
learners, i.e. inference and explicit teaching. Next, the issue of newspaper articles as a
medium of teaching vocabulary to advanced learners has been examined. An attempt has been
made to answer the question as to why the newspapers are the best choice available for
advanced learners by providing examples of multi-prefabricated chunks in authentic
newspaper articles while simultaneously expounding on a multitude of meanings these chunks
often carry. Finally, the hypotheses have been provided which are to be tested in the practical
chapter 2.




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                                      Chapter Two
  The practical application of pre-fabricated lexical chunks in an
                            advanced classroom setting

Introduction
The purpose of chapter two is the practical application of the theory described in chapter one,
according to which the pre-fabricated lexical chunks constitute the most efficient way of
teaching when it comes to advanced learners (C1-C2 level, as defined by the Common
European Framework of Reference for Languages). Chapter two is going to contain personal
observations and assessments of the advanced classroom setting based on the three lessons.
The lesson plans are available in the procedures (2.2.3) section. I intend to start by presenting
my hypotheses from chapter one of the diploma project (section 2.1), followed by the
rationale behind them (the justification). I will then focus on the individuals who have taken
part in the lessons (2.2.1). In the following (2.2.2) section, I will expound upon the materials
used in the classroom by providing the description of each of them, along with the references
to the materials themselves which can be found in the Appendix. The results of the
experiment are going to be gathered in section 2.3, i.e. the research questions will be analyzed
in order to extrapolate the data. The discussion is going to follow (section 2.4), where I am
going to juxtapose the outcome of the experiment with assertions made by experts in the field,
as described in chapter one. The result of this juxtaposition is going to follow. The chapter
closes with the summary.



1. The hypotheses and their justification
I have put forward two hypotheses to be tested in a practical classroom setting. The first
hypothesis posits that advanced learners no longer require artificial, i.e. textbook materials. It
is highly probable that advanced learners want to use English in order to function in the wider
world, not just use it in an artificial setting that is the classroom milieu. Therefore, they
require authentic linguistic samples, and those are easily found in authentic materials, i.e.
those complied for native speakers by native speakers of English.
       My second hypothesis asserts that advanced learners are familiar with many multi-
prefabricated chunks prior to actually studying them - the latter being a direct consequence of
their C1-C2 level.




                                                                                               15
1.1 The justification
The reason I have chosen these hypotheses relates to the fact that I want to show that
language is - first and foremost - a product of a natural environment and teachers ought to
strive for providing this type of environment for their students. Of course, we cannot expect
the classroom milieu to reflect the real-world in every single aspect, due to an inherently
artificial nature of the classroom. Properly utilized authentic materials, however, are meant to
bridge the gap between theory and practice, and - if used sensibly - I do believe this goal to be
attainable. Indeed, vicarious experience is often the only way teachers can convey their
knowledge to students. The CEFR defines an advanced learner as, a learner at the C1-C2
level that can express him/herself at length with a natural, effortless, unhesitating flow.
He/She pauses only to reflect on precisely the right words to express his/her thoughts or to
find an appropriate example or explanation.
        The aforementioned definition draws clear parallels between advanced linguistic
competence and fluency. Therefore, having a wide spectrum of multi-prefabricated chunks at
one's disposal is self-evident when dealing with the C1-C2 level; the students in question
would not be on the C1-C2 level in the first place, had it not been for their linguistic
competence. Therefore, it is not difficult to deduce as to why one of the major problems
surrounding the topic of C1-C2 students is that, this is an area rarely dealt with in ELT
material, and as such occupies a spot in an underappreciated, undervalued and yet important
element of the student ability spectrum (Maley 2009: 75:80).



2. The Method
2.1 Participants
My target group comprises advanced learners who have been classified as representing a C1-
C2 level, in accordance with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
One ought to remember, however, that every classroom is - de facto - a mixed ability class. If
we check the overall abilities of each person, we find that some are 'weak Pre-Intermediate',
some 'Mid Pre-Intermediate' and some 'Strong Pre-Intermediate' (Scrivener 2005: 68). My
students have not been told about the experiment in order to maintain the principle of
experimental neutrality as much as possible. Without a shadow of doubt, my presence has
influenced the students' demeanor due to the simple fact I was not been their regular teacher.
       The class has consisted of fifteen students. It has been an IB class, the level of which
has been far more advanced than what is considered 'typical' in Polish schools. In fact, some



                                                                                              16
of the students are bilingual, which is even more interesting as I could observe a lot of cross-
level interaction (as stated before, even the term 'advanced' can offer various levels of
linguistic sophistication). I have chosen this particular school because I have conducted
teaching practice there. As a result, I have gained an insight into the daily operations of this
particular educational institution.



2.2 Measures
Lesson one comprises the following materials: a picture of a gray alien; an authentic text
about the ''Welsh Roswell'' from the Guardian describing a supposed 1974 UFO crash; an
authentic text about a new concept of ''exo-politics''; and a transcript of the beginning scenes
of ''The X-Files'' movie. The DVD with the authentic version of the movie has also been used.
The details can be found in the Appendices under the heading, Lesson Plan One: Materials
(see Appendix 1-3).
       Lesson two is based on the following materials: an authentic text about giftedness
from the Telegraph; an authentic article about extreme intelligence entitled The Outsiders;
The relevant materials can be found in the Appendix under the heading, Lesson Plan Two:
Materials (see Appendix 4-5).
       Lesson three makes use of the following materials: an authentic text about solar storms
and their effects on Earth taken from a NASA website; a text about Arkstorm, a potentially
devastating cluster of thunderstorms which may hit California. The relevant materials can be
found in the Appendices under the heading: Lesson Plan Three: Materials (see Appendix 6-7).



2.3 Procedure
LESSON ONE:


Lesson Info         Time : 45 minutes                         Day    Age Range :
                                                              N/A    14-18
Main Aims           Improving vocabulary related to the
                    topic of the unexplained




                                                                                             17
Objectives      By the end of the lesson students will
                possess a more extensive vocabulary
                relating to the issue of the unexplained
                with particular focus on multi-
                prefabricated chunks.

Materials       The article from the Guardian, see Appendix 1.
                The Article about ''Exopolitics'', see the website in Appendix 2.
                A fragment of ''X-Files'': the Movie transcript used in the lesson and
                the website source, see Appendix 3.
Anticipated     Students may feel uncomfortable while discussing topics connected to
problems        the unexplained.
                The teacher must make sure students truly understand the target
                vocabulary items.
Solution        A teacher ought to start in order to pave the way for a future
                discussion
Stage           Activity       Aim                Procedure                      Interaction
                                                                                   and
                                                                                   Timing
Warm-up         Discussing      Introducing       The teacher presents the         TS
                vocabulary      basic             students with a picture of
                associated      vocabulary        the gray (cf. Appendix 1).       10
                with the        connected to       First, the students are asked   minutes
                topic           the topic         if they are familiar with the
                                                  creature.
                                                  Students are asked about
                                                  words that they associate
                                                  with the gray. The teacher
                                                  notes them on the board.
A reading       Students are    Reading           Students are given a text        10
comprehension   given           practice          about exopolitics. The           minutes
exercise        authentic                         students are asked whether
                materials to                      they are familiar with the       TS
                read (See                         term. Then, the students are
                Appendix                          to read the text and             SS
                2). They are                      familiarize themselves with
                to note any                       the following target             TS
                unknown                           vocabulary items:
                vocabulary                        ripple through
                items.                            sealed off
                                                  bolide
                                                  non-issue
                                                  last-ditch
                                                  streak
                                                  exopolitics
                                                  Extraterrestrial biological
                                                  entity
                                                  merit an investigation
                                                  pose a threat
                                                  If they are not familiar with
                                                  the words, the teacher


                                                                                               18
                                                     provides the definition.




A discussion        The X-Files:    Speaking skill  The students watch a            15
                    a good show     focus, using    fragment of ''The X-Files''     minutes
                    or a boring     new lexical     movie. The students are to
                    show?           items in a      follow the transcript and
                                    practical       note any unknown lexical        TS
                                    setting         items (see Appendix 3).
                                                    The teacher helps the           SS
                                                    students infer the meaning
                                                    from the context if
                                                    necessary after the fragment
                                                    has been watched by the
                                                    students.
Conclusion          Students’      Writing          The students describe an        10
                    personal       practice         encounter with the              minutes
                    stories                         unexplained - be it
                    connected to                    hypothetical or based on        TS
                    the                             their own experience. The
                    unexplained                     students are to use all ten     SS
                                                    target vocabulary items
                                                    when describing the
                                                    circumstance.
Homework            Students are asked to find one story pertaining to the ‘’unexplained’’
                    by using modern media available.

Reflections         The teacher ought to avoid darker aspects of the ‘’unexplained’’ such
                    as UFO abductions, etc. as this might frighten some students.


Post-Lesson Reflections
In this class there were fifteen students, seven males and eight females. The topic of the class
was unexplained phenomena.
       At first, the students' reaction was that of discontent, given the cliche nature of the
topic I had chosen (plus the school is Catholic, so I had gone out on a slight limb there). The
teacher normally responsible for the class decided to leave the classroom, which is not a
typical approach - usually the teachers are less inclined to abandon their forts. Teachers can
utter the words, I won't interfere, you can do whatever you like, and everyone is supposed to
believe that. In an ideal world, perhaps.
       We are not living in the perfect world, however, and the sheer presence of the teacher
who is surreptitiously scanning every individual in the class (including yours truly) definitely
does not equal leaving the classroom. The teacher knows this all too well, of course, and


                                                                                              19
sometimes I get the feeling teachers want to make sure their students will wow their, for lack
of a better term, substitute teacher, i.e. in this case - me. This implicit ambition is akin to
atavistic impulses, but one cannot be surprised to see it; rather, this sort of attitude is perfectly
natural.
       The students who participated in my experiment have represented a wide spectrum of
linguistic ability - despite their overall advanced levels. Sometimes C1-C2 level is merely
present on paper, a result of happenstance or personal considerations. I have been pleasantly
surprised this has not been the case with this class.
       Most students used English as their second language; despite being fluent, I could
notice it was not their native language, my assessment based on their accents and the general
speech characteristics (the L1 interference could definitely be felt). Their English was
advanced, however, no doubt about that. There were also native speakers of English in the
class (American English - female and British English - male) which is a mixed blessing,
depending on the activity at hand.
           Personally, I find teaching them more challenging because it is more difficult to find
something they might not know. Fortunately, my English vocabulary/experience is rather
extensive so I handled the situation well (in my subjective opinion) and was not paralyzed by
the fact I was dealing with native speakers. On the contrary, I think that having native English
speakers in the class was a great learning experience for the class as a whole, because native
speakers offer a chance to experience the language not as so many teachers would like it to be
(prescriptively), but the way it actually functions (descriptively).
       Moreover, just because a particular individual is a native speaker does not
automatically render him/her linguistically omniscient; a lot of other factors come into play,
such as this person's interests, level of intelligence, belief systems, et al. Besides, let us
remember the very definition of native speaker, as well as the difference between native/non-
native speakers is a proverbial bone of contention among linguists:
       The terms 'native speaker' and 'non-native speaker' suggest a clear-cut distinction that
doesn't really exist. Instead it can be seen as a continuum, with someone who has complete
control of the language in question at one end the beginner at the other, with an infinite range
of proficiencies to be found in between. (Brandt, 2006:144)
       The photo of the gray invoked many connotations, which was not surprising to me at
all, i.e. the image of the gray is a cultural meme. Even before I finished the distribution of the
gray's photo, a multitude of words were bouncing around, e.g. bulging eyes, alien abductions,



                                                                                                  20
scary, mysterious, encounters of the fourth kind. Fortunately, no lexical items I decided to use
were mentioned by the students.
       The definition of words and multi-prefabricated chunks went rather smoothly, with
native speakers being particularly active, which resulted in various (not always positive)
comments coming from the rest of the class. Comments such as, maybe you're gonna go even
faster?, and variations thereof, were particularly common.
       Mixed ability classes are never easy to deal with; the more advanced students are, the
more difficult it is to treat everyone equally and - from my experience - students are keen on
showing others just how superior their abilities are.
       There were unexpected developments as well. For some reason, when discussing the
meaning of the chunk to merit an investigation, a colloquial Americanism - take five -
cropped up. The natives were silent, probably because they were active anyway. One of the
students used his technological prowess and discovered the meaning of this particular
expression, to take a break, to take a rest, to stop doing something for a while. He definitely
enjoyed uncovering the meaning of the term.
       Students' personal stories connected with the unexplained were intriguing; it will never
cease to amaze me what a chorus of overly active imaginations can accomplish. I heard many
stories, some of them so enchanting I considered investigating them further… until I realized
someone had been pulling my leg all that time.
       A potential problem associated with darker aspects of the unexplained did not
transpire - not much to my surprise, I might add.
        Overall, the lesson was an enriching experience.


LESSON TWO:


Lesson Info         Time : 45           Day: N/A           Age Range : 14-    Level :
                    minutes                                18                 Advanced
Main Aims           By the end of
                    the lesson
                    students will
                    have a more
                    extensive
                    vocabulary
                    relating to the
                    topic of
                    giftedness.



                                                                                             21
Objectives      By the end of
                the lesson
                students will
                understand basic
                myths associated
                with giftedness
Materials       The Telegraph article, see Appendix 4
                The Outsiders article, see Appendix 5

Anticipated     Students may feel uncomfortable while discussing their own level of
Problems        intelligence
                A teacher ought to start with his/her own experience to pave the way for
Solution        the experiences of the students.
Stage           Activity           Aim               Procedure            Interaction
                                                                          and Timing
A warm-up       Discussing         Introducing       The teacher          TS
                vocabulary         basic             presents the
                associated with    vocabulary        students with a      10 minutes
                the topic          connected with    picture of
                                   the topic         Stephen
                                                     Hawking (cf.
                                                     Appendix 5).
                                                     The students are
                                                     asked about their
                                                     associations with
                                                     giftedness.
                                                     Any new lexical
                                                     items are written
                                                     down by the
                                                     students and
                                                     explained by the
                                                     teacher if
                                                     necessary.
A reading       Students are      Reading            The students read    10 minutes
comprehension   given authentic   comprehension      the text about the
exercise        materials to                         origins of
                read. They are to                    intelligence         TS
                note any                             quotient (cf.
                unknown lexical                      Appendix 4).         SS
                items.                               They are to focus
                                                     on the following     TS
                                                     target vocabulary
                                                     items:
                                                     spell
                                                     riposte
                                                     hothousing
                                                     cut loose
                                                     arrears
                                                     markedly


                                                                                           22
                                                          prodigy
                                                          keep one's nose
                                                          to the grindstone
                                                          to cut loose
                                                          fling
                                                          The students
                                                          infer the meaning
                                                          from the text
                                                          with the teacher's
                                                          help.
A discussion       Intelligence       Speaking skill      The teacher starts 10 minutes
                   quotient tests –   focus, using        the topic of the
                   useful or          new lexical /       discussion by
                   useless?           grammatical         presenting the      TS
                                      items in a          students with the
                                      practical setting Bell Curve (cf.       SS
                                                          Appendix 5).
                                                          The students are
                                                          to discuss the
                                                          topic of the Bell
                                                          Curve by
                                                          expressing their
                                                          opinions about it
                                                          (pros and cons of
                                                          the Bell Curve).
                                                          The students are
                                                          to use newly
                                                          acquired target
                                                          lexical items.
The Conclusion     Students’          Writing practice The students are 10 minutes
                   personal stories–                      to use all the
                   does intelligence                      target lexical      TS
                   matter to you?                         items in a short
                                                          essay expressing SS
                                                          their stance on
                                                          gifted education,
                                                          i.e. is this a good
                                                          idea?
Homework           Students are asked to prepare a story about one of the contemporary child
                   prodigies.

Reflections        The teacher ought to avoid personal questions regarding the level of
                   students’ intelligence – only volunteers ought to express their views in
                   order to avoid possible emotional distress.

Post-Lesson Reflections
The topic of intelligence is a contentious one so it is better to tread carefully when you are
conducting a lesson revolving around mental capabilities. First and foremost, it is essential to


                                                                                              23
avoid personalizing the issue, as most people are rather sensitive when it comes to their IQ
level - whether they accept the notion of IQ or not, the term itself carries a powerful
connotation within people's minds.
       The students were familiar with a lot of lexical items I had prepared, and it turned out
there was one student who had been an avid researcher of giftedness. We exchanged
interesting remarks regarding recent cases of giftedness, for example, the case of Jacob
Barnett, a 12-year-old from Indiana, who claims he can re-define our understanding of
existence. We agreed, unanimously, that claims such as these are rather common throughout
the world, that many parents would simply love to put their kids on a pedestal as often as
possible, especially in America where the culture of success is so propagated. For some
strange reason, our discussion veered a little off course and we entered the territory of beauty
pageants and the absurd notion of touting your kids for as much profit as possible. We also
agreed, however, that Jacob Barnett might have the brains to prove there is more to his claims
than mere platitude.
       We discussed the issue of hothousing, a controversial homeschooling technique meant
to stimulate one's intelligence by an intense focus on a particular subject. Famous people who
have undergone hothousing include Gordon Brown and Bill Clinton. One student has
compared the idea of hothousing and the Bell Curve by saying that both notions are absurd
and do not really serve any noetic purposes (yes, this is actually a word he used and I was
definitely taken aback, that is not a word one hears too often, whether someone is on a C1-C2
level of English or any other level, for that matter). At that precise moment I knew I had
underestimated some students' linguistic competence.
       We then analyzed various high IQ societies, such as Mensa and the Prometheus
Society, and the students did not really find the idea of IQ tests to be reliable, therefore the
notion of high IQ societies did not earn a lot of credibility in that particular group of students.
       There was a minor altercation toward the end when one of the students accused
another one of calling him stupid. Fortunately, the ringing of the bell cleared the air quickly
and the whole situation just disappeared for good.
       Another interesting lesson, to say the least, but definitely more personal for a good
portion of students. The teacher always needs to be aware of the line between humor and
seriousness, because it is a fine line indeed.




                                                                                                 24
LESSON THREE:


Lesson Info   Time: 45          Day: N/A          Age Range : 14-   Level :
              minutes                             18                Advanced
Main Aims     Improving
              vocabulary
              related to the
              topic of severe
              weather
              conditions
Objectives    By the end of
              the lesson
              students will
              possess a more
              extensive
              vocabulary
              relating to
              various weather
              phenomena
Materials
              For NASA article, see Appendix 6
              For Arkstorm article, see Appendix 7
Anticipated   Weather may be perceived as an uninteresting phenomenon – one needs to
Problems      attract students’ attention early
              Focus on particularly spectacular weather phenomena
Solution
Stage         Activity          Aim               Procedure         Interaction
                                                                    And Timing
A warm-up     Discussing        Preparation for   The teacher plays TS
              vocabulary        the main          a short movie
              associated with   exercises.        depicting a       10 minutes
              the topic                           tornado
                                                  devastating a
                                                  town.
                                                  The students are
                                                  asked about their
                                                  impressions
                                                  regarding what
                                                  they have seen.
                                                  New lexical
                                                  items
                                                  spontaneously
                                                  noticed by the
                                                  students are
                                                  noted and
                                                  explained by the
                                                  teacher if


                                                                                  25
                                                     necessary.


A reading        Students are        Reading      The students read    10 minutes
comprehension    given authentic     comprehensionthe text, while      TS
exercise         materials to read                paying particular
                 about a potential                attention to the     SS
                 ''Arkstorm'' in                  following target
                 California. They                 lexical items:       TS
                 are to note any                  hazard
                 unknown lexical                  plausible
                 items.                           undulate
                                                  malfunction
                                                  perfect storm
                                                  mitigation
                                                  coronal mass
                                                  ejection
                                                  grid
                                                  landslides
                                                  in opposition
                                                  with
                                                  (cf. Appendix 6
                                                  and appendix 7).
                                                  The students are
                                                  to infer the
                                                  meanings from
                                                  the context.
A discussion     What about you? Speaking         The teacher starts   10 minutes
                 What have you   practice         the topic of
                 experienced?                     extreme weather      TS
                                                  by mentioning
                                                  his own              SS
                                                  experiences.
                                                  The students are
                                                  to recount their
                                                  own experiences
                                                  by using all of
                                                  the
                                                  aforementioned
                                                  target vocabulary
                                                  items.
The Conclusion                   Writing practice Students write a     15 minutes
                                                  short story about    SS
                                                  being a journalist
                                                  reporting on a
                                                  major weather
                                                  event. All ten
                                                  lexical items are
                                                  to be used in the
                                                  text.


                                                                                    26
Homework            Students are asked to find a developing story regarding extreme weather
                    phenomena and write a report on their findings.

Reflections         Severe weather phenomena found locally may prove to be a good strategy
                    to elicit students’ interest.



Post-Lesson Reflections
The lesson about severe weather phenomena was eerily accurate in terms of what has been
happening in many areas of the globe. It was easy to access the data about current tornado
events. This was an important move because the students would not really care about an event
which had taken place in an unspecified window of time. One of the students asked me a
question whether I was aware of the term referring to a tornado on water. A smug expression
on his face suggested the, I know this and you don't attitude, but - much to his dismay - I was
very much familiar with the term waterspout and his attempt at displaying verbal superiority
failed miserably.
       Visibly impressed, this particular student decided to abandon a line of questioning. I
am a person who enjoys learning so I do not take seemingly unrelated queries thrown at me
by students personally (I was very much the same way).
       While still a ''teacher-rookie'', I have observed many teachers who have been unable to
deal with their students properly, which has resulted in unfounded aggression emanating from
both sides of the classroom barricades. That, in turn, has led to even more hostility and the
vicious circle has been formed. Or, indeed, as one student has eloquently put it, a perfect
storm of negative teacher-student relations.
       I asked the students to brainstorm (the politically correct version these days is a
thought shower, I believe) some interesting lexical items into existence, which they did.
       We discussed the topics of solar storms and possible danger they may pose to Earth in
2013; the students enjoyed this part of the lesson and even came up with terms such as CMI
(coronal mass ejection) and solar wind on their own.
       We then focused on a new type of cloud discovered in Missouri called undulatus
asperatus, and as the native speaker of American English pointed out, undulatus sounds very
much like (to) undulate, which basically denotes, having a wavy surface, edge, or markings
(http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/undulate).
       To finish off on a slightly gloomier note than usual, we addressed the issue of an
Arkstorm forming off California coast in the near future, while paying particular attention to



                                                                                              27
the current food crisis around the world as a direct consequence of severe weather conditions
around the planet.



2.4 Results
My hypotheses have been largely substantiated by my observations. I would like to focus on
them, and to provide readers with additional observations stemming from my hypotheses. I
was taking notes throughout my classes, focusing on interesting expressions, quotes, and
other types of observations. One particularly interesting opinion made by a student has been
used to better illustrate the outcome of the experiment.
         My first hypothesis posits that advanced learners no longer require artificial, i.e.
textbook materials.
         This has been substantiated by my classroom observations. I did not use textbook
materials and focused solely on authentic materials instead. The students were able to express
their views without bigger problems revolving around grammar and vocabulary, mostly due
to their wide vocabulary range. Textbooks are always a prudent choice, of course, but in the
case of the experiment I conducted, they were rendered superfluous.
         Advanced learners of English comprise individuals who often have a personal goal
transcending the school environment. From my observations, that goal is very much
dependant upon the language, i.e. someone learning a niche language such as Basque is less
likely to do this for career purposes.
         The English language is the modern lingua franca, and one student has encapsulated
the essence of why it pays to focus on English when he said that,
These days without a decent command of English you are basically blind, deaf and mute. English gives you an
opportunity to communicate with educated people all over the world, to interact with people from all cultures, to
access a huge vocabulary range. Having a decent command of English can even save lives and that's not an
understatement. I have some Polish friends who can only say a few basic sentences in English and it's amazing
how limited their access to information is. They're missing out on a lot of stuff and I've also noticed people who
speak English well, apart from some other language, tend to be more open-minded. There are so many layers to
this, it's just awesome.
         My second hypothesis asserts that advanced learners are familiar with many multi-
prefabricated chunks prior to actually studying them - the latter being a direct consequence of
their C1-C2 level.
         My observations confirm this. Unless one focuses on a specific language type, e.g.
business English, legal English, technical English, et al., chances are students are going to be



                                                                                                               28
familiar with a lot of words due to the omnipresence of English in movies, computer games,
etc. This familiarity includes various accent types, regional expressions and even slang.
        Throughout my teaching practice I have observed that students often know more than
teachers are willing to give them credit for. I would like to mention one interesting instance
corroborating the above statement involving the use of the lexical item noetic in one of my
classes by a seemingly typical student. The lexical item noetic has not been on my teaching
list and is rarely used even by educated native speakers of English. Such nuggets of
knowledge tend to happen more and more often in English classrooms because this is the
language used by circa two billion individuals - be it fluently or on an elementary level - and
the globalized world we live in only causes English to grow exponentially.
        Whether English has the biggest vocabulary as some claim, or not, it still remains the
tool without which it is much more difficult to advance in the world - and learners of English
in Poland know it. Therefore, they are not going to wait for the school, but rather they are
going to expand their lexicon on their own terms. Sadly, educational institutions often cannot
catch up with some students due to the modern technological milieu.
        It is vital to remain open and willing to challenge our assumptions. Every time we
break down an assumption to see to what extent it is correct and well founded,                         we are
increasing our own awareness. Every time we seek the truth behind our beliefs, we are using
our     ability     to     think,     really     think      in     a    deep      and      creative      way.
(http://www.hltmag.co.uk/jan08/sart02.htm).



2.5 Discussion
The outcome of the experiment appears to substantiate my two hypotheses. It is vital to note,
however, that the main weakness of the experiment has definitely been the students'
advancement; having two native speakers in the classroom has definitely altered the balance
of linguistic competence, so to speak, which has resulted in a higher-than-usual level of
English in the classroom if one was to juxtapose the level of this particular class with what
constitutes the advanced level of English in a typical Polish school. The results of the
experiment are far from surprising - people who harbor a desire to learn a new language will
not be limited by the school environment. Noam Chomsky (2006: 88) offers a good
explanation as to why this is so,
Having mastered a language, one is able to understand an indefinite number of expressions that are new to one's
experience, that bear no simple physical resemblance and are in no simple way analogous to the expressions
that constitute one's linguistic experience; and one is able, with greater or less facility, to produce such


                                                                                                            29
expressions on an appropriate occasion, despite their novelty and independently of detectable stimulus
configurations. The normal use of language is, in this sense, a creative activity.
         Based on my teaching practice, it is clear that what distinguishes advanced learners of
English (or any other language, for that matter), from their less advanced counterparts is their
ability to produce expressions appropriate to the occasion, despite their novelty and
independently of detectable stimulus configurations (Chomsky 2006: 88).
         Advanced students of English have a certain feel of the language that less advanced
students simply lack. This implicit understanding of the language goes beyond what can be
found in textbooks and that is why, according to many eminent scholars, the field of advanced
learners occupies a spot in an underappreciated, undervalued and yet important element of
the student ability spectrum (Maley 2009: 75:80). Simply put, not every teacher possesses the
linguistic competence to teach advanced learners - and most learners are not advanced
anyway.



3. Summary
Chapter two has focused on testing my two hypotheses in a practical classroom setting. I have
begun by presenting the hypotheses, which has been followed by the rationale behind them. I
have justified the wording of my hypotheses by stating that language is - first and foremost - a
product of a natural environment and teachers ought to strive for providing this type of
environment for their students. My personal observations of the classroom environment have
served as a practical testing mechanism. I have described the type of school in which the
experiment was conducted, the participants of the experiment and their student-student and
teacher-student interaction patterns, as well as the materials and procedures used by me in the
classroom (including the lesson plans with the relevant materials). The outcome of the
experiment has then been compared with my initial research questions. My personal
observations regarding the hypotheses and their viability have been juxtaposed with what
experts in the field have asserted.




                                                                                                   30
Conclusion

1. Purpose of the study
While researching materials for the first chapter, it struck me how little attention is devoted to
the field of advanced learners. I discovered a few eminent English teachers, most notably
Alan Maley, whose opinion was summarized by stating that “one of the major problems
surrounding the topic of C1-C2 students is that, this is an area rarely dealt with in ELT
material, and as such occupies a spot in an underappreciated, undervalued and yet important
element of the student ability spectrum” (Maley, 2009: 75-80).
       Given the definition of advanced learner, however, it stands to reason that not many
teachers can specialize in that particular area. After all, when students are advanced then
teachers ought to be even more advanced and the more advanced students are, the more
difficult it is to establish clear-cut boundaries revolving around linguistic competence.
       The purpose of the experiment was to test the following hypotheses in a classroom
environment. The first hypothesis posits that advanced learners no longer require artificial,
i.e. textbook materials. It is highly probable that advanced learners want to use English in
order to function in the wider world, not just use it in an artificial setting, that is the classroom
milieu. Therefore, they require authentic linguistic samples, and those are easily found in
authentic materials, i.e. those complied for native speakers by native speakers of English.
       My second hypothesis asserts that advanced learners are familiar with many multi-
prefabricated chunks prior to actually studying them - the latter being a direct consequence of
their C1-C2 level.
       Bearing the above hypotheses in mind, I have conducted my lessons. My interaction
with the classroom has taught me a lot about how any sort of linguistic classification is really
a misnomer, i.e. this observation has been a lateral result of my experiment.
        It is much easier to determine who is a beginner and who is an intermediate student
than to determine who is more advanced when everyone in the classroom is supposedly on a
high level of English. I would like to stress the word supposedly because, from my classroom
experience, it is abundantly clear that linguistic classification can barely keep up with the real
world where globalization makes it possible to constantly improve one's linguistic
competence (especially when dealing with a lingua franca of the modern technological age,
i.e. the English language). I observed native speakers ''in action'', and that was particularly




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interesting because I was able to observe other students and how they perceived their native
friends.
       I have chosen multi-prefabricated chunks in connection with authentic materials
because it is far more efficient to focus on authentic materials (newspapers, movie transcripts,
articles). I have also wanted to choose the topics which would be seen as up-to-date by the
students, i.e. something they could relate to on a personal level but not too personal because
this could lead to unnecessary scuffles throwing the lesson into chaos.
       The level of importance increases when students know they have been provided with
real vocabulary used in the real world. The level of importance might not be of paramount
significance for beginner students, for example, and rightly so; but the C1-C2 level means
students want to delve into the intricacies of the language. I have observed those patterns in
my classroom, and they came in all of the proverbial shapes and sizes.
       The results of my classroom observations are then juxtaposed with my hypotheses;
afterwards, the conclusions I came to were compared with the academic sources.



2. Implications for further studies
As my classroom observations have demonstrated, the advanced learners were very much
aware of many linguistic items, sometimes surpassing even the most optimistic expectations
(see the description of noetic in my diploma project where one such situation has been
mentioned). Therefore, it is of particular benefit for advanced learners of English to focus on a
different topic via the medium of English. If a particular teacher does have what it takes to
teach advanced learners, there are certain programs in place which utilize those skills, such as
Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), which


           involves teaching a curricular subject through the medium of a language other than that normally
       used. The subject can be entirely unrelated to language learning, such as history lessons being taught in
       English in a school in Spain. (...) Teachers working with CLIL are specialists in their own discipline
       rather than traditional language teachers. They are usually fluent speakers of the target language,
       bilingual or native speakers
       (http://ec.europa.eu/education/languages/language-teaching/doc236_en.htm).


Programs such as CLIL ensure that teachers and learners alike can benefit from using English
as a tool. This way, the language no longer is the focus but certain structures are solidified
automatically throughout the course of learning. The teacher must be careful, however, what
is conveyed in the classroom in order to avoid fossilization, i.e. “the process in which


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incorrect      language    becomes     a    habit    and    cannot     easily   be     corrected”
(http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/think/knowledge-wiki/fossilization).

          This approach yields more results than merely using English as a tool, especially when
students in question are of native/near-native level.


3. Implications for the EFL classroom
English as a foreign language is the key expression in this section. What does foreign mean
exactly? How can it be measured? What does it mean for the students in question? How does
it influence the classroom?
          There were two native speakers of English in my classroom. Therefore, English was
not a foreign language for them. What were the implications for the classroom? First of all, I
could detect a note of jealousy in the air, undoubtedly stemming from the innately unfair
global environment, where many native speakers of English do not even bother to learn other
languages and feel as if the world is their oyster, while Polish students need to devote hours of
study to achieve even a remote level of English competence. This is the psychological process
I call an ''emotional charge'' and the process is rarely - if ever - addressed in a classroom
milieu.
          The lack of focus on that particular aspect of language learning stems from grassroots
issues, such as underpayment of teachers or simply lack of linguistic competence to discuss
such topics. The linguistic competence of teachers matters especially for advanced learners of
English (or any other language, for that matter). The higher the level of linguistic competence,
the more can be conveyed, but the factor of simple respect also comes into play. Furthermore,
in this day and age it is more and more prevalent that children coming from mixed-marriages
are - for all intents and purposes - bilingual, something the Polish educational system has a
problem with because teachers are unable to devise interesting activities for more advanced
students). I wanted to detect the source of that jealousy: is it their accent, their vocabulary,
something else?
          One would be mistaken to think advanced students have to lag behind the natives,
however, because there are many factors at play, i.e. the level of intelligence, personality, etc.
The level of intelligence (whether a particular students is a voracious reader, etc.) and
personality (extrovert, willing to interact with others, more reticent) proved to be valid in the
class I taught; in fact, apart from the accents, the level of linguistic competence was
remarkably close, I would even say native-like for most students. Of course, just because



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someone is a reticent student it does not mean he/she is less likely to excel in the classroom,
i.e. their introvert demeanor might be misconstrued as a lack of interest.
       Are accents important? This is another question many advanced students seem to be
asking themselves. In the process of conducting my experiment, I noticed an interesting
phenomenon of accent-adjustment to sound more like the natives, while the natives pretended
to sound more like Polish speakers of English. I kept recalling various classroom situations in
my earlier years, where teachers would tell advanced students (frankly, more advanced than
the teachers in question) to practice their grammar. The question immediately arises: is this
really what those teachers thought was useful for those particular students or was this a poorly
devised stratagem on their part, a red herring, if you will? That is the question which
definitely warrants further study.




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Description: The aim of this diploma project is to analyze various methods of teaching vocabulary to advanced students of English. Particular attention is paid to the concept of multi-prefabricated chunks, i.e. collocations (e.g. strong winds, but heavy rain), phrasal verbs (e.g. to take up), fixed phrases, (e.g. in jeopardy), idiomatic expressions (e.g. make good). The main idea is ‘that fluency is based on the acquisition of a large store of fixed and semi-fixed prefabricated items’ (Lewis, 1997:15).