Second Language Pedagogy Essay

2.2. Speaking and the Role of Vocabulary in the History of Second Language Pedagogy
Speaking in a second language is regarded as important as the other skills; however, it has not received as much attention in the history of language learning. In the last two decades, speaking emerged as a distinct subdivision of learning, teaching and testing (Bygate, 2002). Historically, learning structural language, memorizing sentence patterns and literary language was prioritised over practicing spoken language (Rodgers & Richards, 2001). Structural language refers to the view of language as a system comprised of structurally related components for coding the meaning such as phonological units, grammatical units, grammatical operations, and lexical items.
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In DM, learners are exposed to second language as native speakers do: listening and speaking first then in later stages reading and writing. Thus, speaking is emphasised more in the pedagogical teaching goals of the direct method. With regard to vocabulary role in DM, vocabulary was assumed to be learnt through communication and interactions in the classroom. Concrete words were taught using pictures, realia and mimicking whereas abstract words were taught using idea association. DM, however, had its disadvantages, such as the fact that not all foreign language teachers are proficient in the target language, which may result in providing insufficient input to the learners (Schmitt, 2000). Beside, although DM imitated first language learning, there are many differences in learning first and second languages, namely, the rich exposure in first language learning compared to the limited exposure (mostly classroom-based) in second language …show more content…
Chomsky argued that learners who learned through those methods faced problems in real-life situations outside of memorised and imagined dialogues (Wright, 2010). Thus, Hymes (1972) introduced the communicative competence concept which emphasised the significance of social communication in language teaching (Zimmerman, 1997). A new methodology appeared based on this notion, and communicative language teaching (CLT) came to dominate the field of language pedagogy. It emphasised both the structural and functional aspects of language and considered language as a means for meaningful communication (Littlewood, 1981; Nunan, 1987). Accuracy and fluency were both encouraged in CLT, as they were seen as central components of effective communication. The motto for CLT was ‘using language to learn it’ instead of ‘learning language to use it’ (Widdowson, 1978) (page numbers). Nevertheless, vocabulary was thought to be learned incidentally, and as CLT was a more meaning-focused approach, vocabulary was given secondary status. Guessing meaning from context, avoiding translation and using monolingual dictionaries were encouraged (Sökmen, 1997, as cited in Schmitt, 2000). CLT assumed that second language vocabulary is learned the same way as first language vocabulary; thus, it did not give much weight to learning and using vocabulary (Coady, 1993, as cited in

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