The Lexical Approach is a unique approach in TESOL methods. This approach starts from the position that language learning is not about the individual word but rather multi-word chunks. As such, a student should focus learning various combinations of word chunks.
This post will share the assumptions and curriculum of the Lexical Approach
The Lexical Approach states clearly that language acquisition happens through acquiring the chunks or collocations of a language. Learning a language is not about rules but rather about acquiring enough examples from which the learner can make generalizations. For example, I child will eventually learn that “good morning” is a greeting for a specific time of day.
Chunks are learned through one or more of the following strategies
- Exposure-You see it over and over again and make a generalization
- Comparison-You compare the target language chunk with a chunk for another language
- Noticing-You notice a combination for the first time
Lexical approach is primarily an approach for autonomous learning. Therefore, the teacher’s role is to provide an environment in which the student can manage their own learning.
The student’s responsibility is in using what is called a concordancer. A concordancer is an online resource that provides examples of how a word is used in real literature. Each concordancer has one or more corpus from which examples of the word being used come from.
The Lexical Approach is not a comprehensive method and as such does not include any objectives. There are several common activities used in this approach.
- Awareness activities help students to notice chunks and include. The teacher might provide several examples of sentences using the word “prediction” to allow students to try and determine the meaning of this word
- Identifying chunks involves having the students search for chunks in a text. The results are then compared during a discussion.
- Retelling involves having a student make their own sentences while reusing a chunk that they have just learned. For example, if the students learn the chunk (don’t put all your eggs in one basket) they would have to use this chunk in their own unique sentence.
The Lexical approach is a useful approach for those with a more analytical way of learning a language. Digesting a language through memorizing and applying various collocations can be beneficial to many language learners.