Learning in vocabulary in English is about much more than just learning the right word. A broad grasp of vocabulary in English is based on understanding important expressions and word combinations. These common word combinations are often referred to as collocations in academic discussions of vocabulary in English. There are a number of tools to help out with learning vocabulary in English. There are excellent collocation dictionaries available, but, in my opinion, the most useful tools can be found online for free. This lesson plan focuses on building vocabulary in English by leveraging Google and an online concordance tool. These technologies are simple to use and, with a computer in class which is connected to the internet, easy to access when learning vocabulary in English.
Aim: Develop skills at using internet resources to identify important collocations
Activity: Collocation consciousness raising / internet tool discovery
Level: Intermediate to advanced
- Have students gather in small groups around the computer(s) in class.
- Introduce the concept of collocations to students. For lower levels, start off easy by using examples with 'make' and 'do'. For higher level learners, I suggest focusing on business collocations such as strong collocations used with money.
- Once the concept of collocations, set expressions, word combinations and their importance to learning vocabulary in English is understood, ask them to choose a topic in which they'd like to improve their vocabulary in English - the more narrow the topic, the better.
- Improve Your Vocabulary in English Technique 1: Ask students to open a browser and navigate to Google.
- On the left hand of the page in Google, you'll see 'More Search Tools'. Click on the drop down menu, and then click on 'related searches' from the list provided.
- Students enter terms from the list they have made, and take note of 'related searches for ____'. These results provide an treasure trove of important word combinations related to the topic for which they have chosen to improve their vocabulary in English.
- Improve Your Vocabulary in English Technique 2: Ask students to navigate to Corpus Concordance English.
- Have students enter keywords and choose a corpus (there are more than 10 to choose from at this site - and it's absolutely free!).
- Students will see their keyword underlined. Have students scan the list for recurring word groups. For example, searching on 'TV' clearly shows that TV sets, TV, shows, TV comedy, TV series, etc. are important word combinations.