Literature Review: What Is Vocabulary?
“Without grammar very little can be conveyed, without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed” (Wilkins, 1972, p. 111).
What is Vocabulary?
A number of scholars in vocabulary learning and acquisition have defined vocabulary in various ways. Barcroft, Sunderman, and Schmitt (2011), for example, define vocabulary as “all the words in a language, the entire vocabulary of a language” (p. 571). In defining vocabulary from an orthographic perspective, Carter (2012) indicates that “a word is any sequence of letters (and a limited number of other characteristics such as hyphen and apostrophe) bounded on either side by a space or punctuation mark” (20).
To put it another way, Lessard-Clouston (2013) defines vocabulary as “the …show more content…
It is considered by Carter and McCarthy (1988) to be the core of language teaching and the skeleton that supports the language. They also mention that not much work has been done in this field. In addition, McCarthy (1990) states that “no matter how well the student learns grammar, no matter how successfully the sounds of L2 are mastered, without words to express a wider range of meanings, communication in an L2 just cannot happen in any meaningful way” (p. viii). This is also advocated by Hatch (1983) who states that “when our first goal is communication, when we have little of the new language at our command, it is the lexicon that is crucial [...:] the words [...] will make basic communication possible” …show more content…
Along the same lines, Nagy and Scott (2013) claim that “knowing a word means being able to do things with it: To recognize it in connected speech or in print, to access its meaning, to pronounce it and to be to do these things within a fraction of a second” (p. 463). In a similar vein, Nation (2001, 2013) introduced an extensive model of what is involved in knowing a word. His model includes three general aspects of knowing a word: knowing its form (e.g., spoken, written, word parts), knowing its meaning (e.g., form and meaning; concepts and referents, and association), and knowing its use(s) (e.g., grammatical functions, collocation, and constraints on use such as register and frequency). Nation goes further and classifies the three general aspects of knowing a word into two categories of knowledge: receptive and productive. The first involves knowledge needed to deal with a word in listening and reading, and the latter entails knowledge needed to use a word in speaking and writing. Other types of receptive and productive knowledge are presented in Table