Learning Words in the Primary EFL Classroom

Essay, 2008

13 Pages, Grade: 1,5

Anne Kürschner (Author)



1. Introduction

2. Theories of situated learning
2.1 Increased motivation of children in situated learning
2.2 Authentic situations let the children connect to their own knowledge
2.3 Raising the learning achievements through situated learning

3. Micro-teaching experiment: Learning words
3.1 The presentation stage part I
3.2 The presentation stage part II
3.3 The production stage

4. Results of the experiment regarding the theory

5. Final remarks

6. References

1. Introduction

This paper explores the importance, necessity and advantages of situated learning and provides a suitable approach for the teaching of English vocabulary in the foreign language classroom. Furthermore, this paper outlines and reviews theoretical research and discusses the results of my recent micro-teaching experiment which showed different teaching methods for learning words in the Primary classroom. In addition, the experiment is linked to the theoretical knowledge in this paper.

The arguments for situated vocabulary learning lead through different aspects of the topic. I consider situated learning as an appropriate teaching method in primary school and summarize several reasons for my opinion in this paper. During the research for my topic I found that in situative contexts, learners are more motivated, they are provided with authentic situations and that their learning achievements are higher than of those who learn new words in the traditional English classroom.

2. Theories of situated learning

For me as a future teacher it is crucial to think about different teaching approaches, especially in the foreign language classroom. One of the key issues that need to be considered is situated learning. I believe that learning words should be imbedded in a situative context, in order to be successful as a language teacher. Before starting my research, I thought of different arguments that came to my mind and found proof and affirmation in different references. Let us take a look at child native speakers who learn thousands of new words every year. How do they do that? ‘The only possibility is that they learn most of them through linguistic context’ said Sternberg in 1987 (Bloom 2000: p. 192). Regarding this fact, is the most accessible way of learning words in the EFL classroom to imitate how native speakers learn new words? Keeping this in mind, I will now summarize the arguments for situated learning.

2.1 Increased motivation of children in situated learning

First of all, I think learners are more motivated if they learn from a situative context. Topics of interest always have a high impact on learning. With regards to situated learning, topics of interest can increase the motivation for vocabulary learning to a high extend. A possible reason for this fact is that the individual’s identity and participation is integrated in learning here (cf. Clancey 1995: What Situated Learning Emphasizes). Thinking of my own experiences with vocabulary learning, I can say that not only me but my whole class was bored by just memorizing isolated facts. This kind of vocabulary teaching is ‘totally dominated by a process of nominalisation’ (Lewis 2002: p. 103) in which the word lists consist almost entirely of nouns. This is not what I call perfect language teaching. Situated learning - in discourse or from a text - offers the possibility to combine different word classes and to make it more interesting for the participants. The intrinsic motivation of each single student needs to be discovered and advanced with the help of the teacher.

2.2 Authentic situations let the children connect to their own knowledge

Secondly, situative contexts display, constitute and represent authentic situations. Given realistic situations, children can relate new words to their own knowledge and experience. This is because context ‘refers to the intentions, assumptions, and presuppositions of speakers and hearers’ (Kramsch 1993: p. 36) and therefore ensures a coherently perceived discourse, which then makes sense to the learners. As it was said in a concept overview of situated learning by someone from Michigan State University,

“Learning occurs within a context where it is meaningful, rather than abstract learning in the classroom or textbook. Advocates of situated learning believe knowledge does not transfer well across contexts, so it is best to learn in the same context where knowledge will be used.” (Michigan State University 2004: par. 1)

For language learning in general but especially for vocabulary teaching the quotation indicates, that settings and applications which would normally involve the knowledge, must be provided.

In any other case, the value of knowledge and its significance become expensed:

“When learning is removed from its context, the value of the knowledge and the relevance of that knowledge to the learner become depreciated.” (Duffy and Cunningham 1996, in Lunce 2006: page 3, par 1)


Excerpt out of 13 pages


Learning Words in the Primary EFL Classroom
Karlsruhe University of Education
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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617 KB
Der Esssay gibt eine kurze Übersicht zum Thema "situatives Lernen in der Primarstufe". Darüber hinaus erhält er eine Beschreibung und Reflexion zu einem im Seminar durchgeführten Praxisteil.
Learning, words, EFL, Englisch as a foreign language, Grundschule, Primarstufe, Primary, Classroom, Vocabulary, situative, situatives lernen
Quote paper
Anne Kürschner (Author), 2008, Learning Words in the Primary EFL Classroom, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/161104


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