English Australia Journal : English Australia Journal 27.1
EA Journal Volume 27 No 1 95 words we should teach. Chapter 2 explores concepts relating to meaning such as polysemy, synonyms and antonyms, connotation and register. Chapters 3, 4, 5 and 6 then broaden the concept of ‘words’ into collocations, colligation, multi-word items and idioms, and the many challenges involved in teaching such items. The next two chapters begin to take vocabulary into the wider world, Chapter 7 investigating how words relate with each other (for instance, the pros and cons of using synonyms/ antonyms and cognates to teach lexis), and Chapter 8 looking at how they operate as construction blocks of discourse (lexical cohesion, register and so on). The fascinating final two chapters look at words from inside and out: Chapter 9 focuses on how the mind stores, retrieves and processes words, while Chapter 10 looks at words in society, how they come, go, are coined or reattributed, and how the social framework adds important layers of meaning not always apparent to learners. Given the impressive range of content, it’s helpful that McCarthy and his co-authors always tie it back to the same three key issues, which subdivide every chapter: ‘What do we know about this?’ (background information and theory), ‘What are the problems for learners?’ and ‘How do we teach it?’ This last section not only provides practical teaching techniques that address the content of the previous two sections, but also advice on when, to what extent and how best to address the topic with learners at different levels. The chapters also contain several ‘topic tasks’, each followed by an instructive commentary, which serves to underpin learning and enhance the reader’s theoretical and pedagogical understanding. These tasks challenge readers to draw on their current knowledge and reflect on what has just been discussed, for example by posing questions and providing gap-fill statements. They are a fruitful source of tips and further ideas to apply in the classroom, as are the boxed ‘vocabulary files’ that occur throughout the text. These summarise key concepts, often citing research, and are particularly helpful for their brief insights into learner experience and advice on how best to cater to different types of learners. Each chapter concludes with ten content review questions, for which helpful commentaries and an answer key appear are provided at the end of the book. Additional features that make this text so readable include the elucidation of key words, phrases and concepts used in linguistics (supported by a useful glossary at the end of the book), and the use of graphs and tables to illustrate discussion points and give food for thought. The text also abounds with practical advice: for example, how to help learners use dictionaries, and how to create a meaningful and effective vocabulary notebook. Insightful comments are found on such topics as the impact of learner expectations, the problems/usefulness of transfer from first to second language, and cultural specificity.
English Australia Journal 27.2