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With the continuous internationalization of China, English gains more and more importance among Chinese. It’s especially so for school students. But vocabulary is always the most difficult element in English learning from primary school students to college students. The biggest problem that the students are facing with is their recognition and memorization of English words.
Generally speaking, English vocabulary learning is a very complicated step in English learning in terms of word spelling, word meaning, and their grammatical, syntactical and pragmatic usage. However, a large number of English teachers in some junior high schools overemphasize the spelling, pronunciation and the Chinese meaning of each word in class teaching, neglecting the key point whether students in Junior high school can understand the denotation and connotation of English words and remember them completely. As a result, when Junior high school students practice their listening, they do not make a correct connection between sounds and the words in the listening text. Of course the students do not get the right meaning of the sentence which is made up of several words that the students even have learned before. The students begin learning English from the primary school stage. But they master only a small number of English words before, even after their middle school life ends.
Why such a disappointing result? There may be the students’ problem, and there may be the teachers’ problem. For most of the students, memorizing and understanding English vocabulary have become a heavy burden. They have to take many subjects in schools, and one of them is English. They think they usually spend much time on reciting English words. And this situation makes them so tired and boring. Even if they make great efforts on vocabulary, they find that the result is not satisfied: they find that they have remembered the words well, but they forget the words soon; using the words freely and flexibly is still a big problem when they want to communicate with English speakers, and they still can not understand the text they are reading even though they have already learned a large number of words in the text. As a disappointing result, they believe that large vocabulary does not help to improve their language ability as we hope. Furthermore, they do not have correct strategies and methods for learning vocabulary. The main and the biggest source of touching vocabulary is from their text books for most of them,. Although they realize they should actual use and practice to learn vocabulary, most of them can not memorize the words because they did not develop a good habit. However, it is not the most terrible thing. That is some of the students are not interested in learning English at all because memorizing vocabulary is so boring.
As to the teachers, nowadays, in most English classes in junior high schools, the teacher-dominated, examination-oriented, and grammar-centered vocabulary teaching methods still dominate. When we describe these classes, we may use the words boring and dull. Only a few English teachers today pay some attention to cultivating the students' ability to learn vocabulary actively and independently.
Firstly, when the teachers teach the new words, Most of them use the teaching procedures like this: first of all, the teacher reads the new words and the students read following the teacher or they read following the tape.Then the teacher emphasizes the pronunciation of the new words. Next the teacher chooses some key words to explain how to use them by giving examples, making sentences, or listing some phrases with the words and so on. Finally, the students recite new words and their usages., In order to test whether the students master the new words or not, the teacher commonly use dictating and spelling ways. So most of the teachers have not realized to reappear the new words intentionally. According to the rules of the memorizing, only a small number of students can remember a new word at the second time. However, most of the students remember a new word when it reappears for the seventh time. Therefore, improving the reappearance of the words is necessary to make the students grasp the new words. In fact, the low reappearance frequency of the new words leads to the students’ tendency to forget the words easily.
Secondly, the teachers do not teach words in context. The teacher usually spends much more time in explaining how to use the new words than using the words actually in context. The students only remember lots of meanings and examples of the new words. Therefore, teachers always complain that the students make so many mistakes in speaking and writing. In additionthe teachers feel that though they make great efforts and spend much time in teaching vocabulary, the students still can not understand some materials that they read or listen, and they cannot talk freely with the words they have learned.
With the development of the society, studying English is not only the necessity for examinations among the students, it also becomes the tool to exchange information, so helping the students know how to learn vocabulary by themselves is the ultimate purpose for teaching vocabulary. Therefore, it is necessary and urgent to explore an effective way to improve vocabulary teaching. In order to meet the requirements of society, it is the only suitable way to teach English.
With the development of applied linguistics and functional teaching methods, the linguists have been aware of the important usage of context in a second language teaching gradually. Words appear in a certain context. In dealing with the word meanings, the connotation must be determined with the help of the context. We should pay more attention to the role of context in vocabulary teaching. Some linguists and researchers have got some achievements on this topic in these years, and most of them stressed in the use of context in vocabulary teaching in senior high schools and colleges. They pay less attention to the study about teaching vocabulary in context in junior high school.
In fact, we all know when the students study in junior high schools, it is a very important step for them. Because they can lay a firm foundation for their further English studying in this step. So it is very essential and helpful for the students in junior high schools to master a scientific and effective method of learning vocabulary themselves and form a good learning habit. This paper designs and tries to prove the effectiveness of a scientific vocabulary teaching method based on context. The aim of this experimental study is to make English teachers in junior high schools to be sensitive to the various contexts, to arouse the students' learning interests, to strengthen their memory, to understand the word meaning deeply, to stimulate them to practice actively, and to help them make great use of the relative context to grasp the connotative meaning of word completely and accurately, and ultimately to choose appropriate words to express themselves in various forms of communication and improve students' words power. The author thinks that teaching vocabulary in context can also help to create truer linguistic atmosphere, to develop the ability of using English properly. Therefore, teaching students words in context and to train them to be self-reliant English learners are very important.
Based on the teaching practice, the author also makes attempts to bring the research result into everyday English vocabulary teaching in junior high schools. The author hopes that vocabulary teaching in junior high schools can be based on certain contexts. On the one hand, it reflects the creativity of English teaching; on the other hand, it embodies the English teachers' ability to apply context theories to English teaching. As long as teachers can design effective learning contexts in middle schools, vocabulary teaching will certainly become much easier.
By all, this study of context-based vocabulary teaching in junior high schools is important both theoretically and practically. Firstly, on the basis of the the scholars’ careful study abroad and in China, a general introduction of the context theory has been made by the author and tries to prove its effectiveness in junior high school English vocabulary teaching. Secondly, the author tries to use context theory to improve vocabulary teaching efficiency in junior high school English vocabulary teaching process. And the author finds that the meanings of the English words vary with the contexts they appear. Therefore, we English teachers should connect word meanings with proper situations. Only by this can English vocabulary teaching and learning become much easier and more effective.
This paper is composed of five chapters. In Chapter One, the author gives a brief introduction of the present situation of vocabulary teaching and learning in the junior high school in Chengyang District. It also tells about the importance of vocabulary teaching and the meaning and purpose of this study. In Chapter Two, the author reviews the literature which includes the studies of English vocabulary teaching methods and different vocabulary teaching methods and researches about context theory both oversea and in China. Chapter Three is a detailed presentation of how to apply context theories to vocabulary teaching and learning, and shows some types of contextual clues providing a theoretical description about how to infer word meaning in context in the following experiment. Chapter Four is the core of the thesis, which includes the hypotheses, subjects, instruments, the analysis of the results of the experiment and the major findings of the present study. Chapter Five is the conclusion of the thesis. It re-emphasizes the practical meaning of context theory in vocabulary teaching and learning. Meanwhile, some proposals were given for teaching vocabulary in the context theory.
 
 
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