What vocabulary?

What vocabulary do our students really need to know? Book authors and publishers make their best guess based on a world wide selection of corpus but is this the vocabulary your students are going to need?

We used to be dependent on authors and publishers to tell us but the world is rapidly changing and technology is enabling teachers to gain this information with greater accuracy and ease.

By interviewing my graduated students, I found that they often get jobs in foreign trade and have to deal with orders. What is the specific vocabulary involved in orders? (Photo: Visiting my former student at the foreign trade company where she works.)

1. I created my own corpus for “placing an order” by doing a search, selecting appropriate webpages, copying the text and pasting it in one Notepad file.

2. After accumulating what I thought was a representative range of text, I then copied and pasted the corpus into a data visualization tool to generate a Word Cloud [1].

3. I also created a word list [2] that works like a concordance showing different ways these words are used in a sentence.

Using these technology tools, I feel that I have a deeper understanding and greater control over the likely vocabulary my students will encounter and need. I won’t say that this approach is 100% accurate. I will say that for determining my students’ needs it is more accurate than depending on an author and publisher in London or New York.

These are samples from a simple corpus I created. Teachers should develop large and more accurate corpuses for their specific needs.


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