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a map of Zurich, Germany from 1581

“How can I learn all these words?”: Research-based strategies for teaching and learning L2 vocabulary

Monday, April 29, 2024
4:30 pm
Irvin Hall Room 40

Second language (L2) classrooms have undergone radical changes during the past 50 years, moving away from formal linguistic structures to drills and habit formation, then to comprehensible input, focus on form, cultural integration, sociocultural perspectives and social networking. Throughout all of these shifts there has been surprisingly little emphasis on one aspect of L2 learning that all teachers and all students acknowledge as a critical factor in L2 communicative
proficiency and literacy: Vocabulary. 

As someone once quipped: “If you don’t know any grammar, you can’t say much; if you don’t know any vocabulary, you can’t say anything.” This applies to more than rudimentary spoken communication, since lexical knowledge is as critical to interpreting texts as it is to interaction and presentation – that is to say, it lies at the heart of L2 proficiency as currently conceptualized.

This talk addresses three issues related to L2 vocabulary:  the relationship between vocabulary, text coverage and reading comprehension, the role of vocabulary in L2 textbooks, and the possibilities for L2 pedagogy based on current research on vocabulary learning. While the talk is grounded in current research, its goal is to provide instructors and students with practical strategies for classroom teaching, learning and assessment.

Jamie Rankin is a University Lecturer in the German Department at Princeton University, focusing on second language acquisition, teacher training and curriculum development. Since 2015 he has also served as the Director of the Princeton Center for Language Study, a program that provides instructors and students in all languages on campus with workshops, reading groups, resources for conferences and research, access to telecollaborative language instruction, and opportunities for ongoing professional development. His publications include numerous articles in Die Unterrichtspraxis on topics ranging from teacher training to extensive L2 reading and classroom-based Action Research, and a study of teacher cognition in the Modern Language Journal. As a presenter for the American Association of Teachers of German, he has given workshops on interactive tasks for L2 classrooms, assessment strategies, and vocabulary training. He is the co-author of the widely used reference work/textbook for intermediate and advanced German, the Handbuch zur deutschen Grammatik (Cengage) and its accompanying Arbeitsheft, now in their 6th edition.

Event sponsored by: German, Russian, Asian, and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, The Center for Teaching Excellence, Spanish and Portuguese, and French, Italian, and Classical Studies

Jamie Rankin
Jamie Rankin
University Lecturer in the German Department of Princeton University & Director of the Princeton Center for Language Study