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Lexical learning and teaching – Lexis – Journal in English Lexicology. Deadline: January 31 2021

Editor

Heather Hilton (University Lumière Lyon 2)

The heyday of lexical learning in the language classroom, which lasted more than 80 years (stretching from the Méthode directe through the Active and Audiolingual Methods) came to a relatively abrupt end in the 1980s, with the adoption of the Communicative Approach, and its almost exclusive focus on communication skills (rather than the linguistic components of these skills). One of the main supporters of the Communicative Approach in the United States, Stephen Krashen, for example, has famously postulated that incidental encounters with words during receptive activities will suffice for their acquisition [Krashen et al. 1984]. Currently, in France, foreign language pedagogy remains evasive when it comes to lexical acquisition, formulating taboos (such as “les listes de mots sont à bannir,” MEN 2012: 5), rather than a research-grounded methodology for the teaching and learning the vast numbers of words required for competent language use.

Psycholinguistic research has, however, long demonstrated the vital contribution of lexical knowledge to communicative language use. First-language (L1) research has clearly and repeatedly shown that automatic word recognition is the basis of skilled reading (Anderson & Freebody [1981]; Nagy [1988]); second and foreign-language (L2) research has confirmed the role of lexical knowledge in comprehension (for example, Kelly [1991]; Tsui & Fullilove [1998]), and also in oral and written production (Hilton [2008]; Staehr [2008]). A large body of second language acquisition research describes the circumstances that promote L2 lexical learning (summarized in Nation [2014]), but this research (primarily published in English), doesn’t yet seem to have influenced our theory or practice in foreign-language teaching in France (Hilton [2019]).

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