Usefulness and Learnability in Teaching Vocabulary to ESL/EFL Students

Shanjida Halim, Tanzina Halim


It is known that vocabulary is a must in teaching English Language because without a sound knowledge of vocabulary students are not able to understand others or express their own ideas. Although vocabulary deals with words, yet vocabulary is much more than just single words. Therefore, vocabulary can be defined asthe words of a language, including single items and phrases or chunks of several words which convey a particular meaning, the way individual words do”. Vocabulary is so important that Wilkins (1972, p. 111) said: “Without grammar very little can be conveyed; without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed”.

Innumerable ways of presenting and teaching vocabulary are there, but this paper is going to focus on the ways briefly without any detailed explanation of those ways because most of the ESL/EFL teachers are already aware of those strategies. What our paper aims to focus is that selection of vocabulary is very important for the learners if a useful vocabulary is to be built up quickly. As teachers of vocabulary, we know, or we must know why we should teach certain items to our learners and not others. In teaching vocabulary to learners there are two general criteria: usefulness and learnability which this paper is going to discuss in detail, and it will also show why selecting what to teach, based on usefulness and learnability, according to the needs of the students, is essential.

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