IATEFL Poland and Hugh Dellar
have the pleasure to invite you to the free webinar which will take place on 7th December, Monday, from 20.30 to 21.30 CET.
You may join the webinar at the IATEFL Poland Facebook event
“Smooth sailing through the sea of words”
This workshop shows how many of us have a limited grasp of vocabulary frequency because of our availability bias. It also shows how lexical sets can lead to the teaching of infrequent and unhelpful language. We’ll consider in more depth the examples we give, how to adapt lexical sets and better use of dictionaries, texts and word lists. Availability bias is a cognitive phenomenon that causes us to overestimate the probability or frequency of events that are associated with memorable or vivid occurrences. Because memorable events are further magnified by media coverage, the bias then becomes compounded on a societal level. This applies to teachers’ perceptions of word frequency as well, of course.
The vast majority of teachers, for instance, will believe a word such as blonde to be more frequent than a more abstract verb like arise, despite the fact the latter is far more widely used. We all know blonde people, and may have strong feelings about blonde hair, and thus gravitate towards that which we can visualise or have direct memorable experience of, whilst neglecting the more loosely tenable. This can have serious ramifications in the ELT classroom, and this bias is reflected in the dominance of lexical sets within classroom materials.
In this hands-on workshop, I’ll be exploring why this is problematic and how availability bias leads us to over-emphasise language that is far too often both uncommon and not particularly useful when it comes to helping students develop communicative competence in a goal-oriented manner. I will then move on to discuss the importance of the examples teachers give (both orally and on the board) of new lexis that they are teaching, and look at how an awareness of our own unconscious biases can help us to make better use of dictionaries, exploit classroom texts more rigorously and result in better and more focused vocabulary teaching – and learning.
Hugh Dellar is a London-based teacher and teacher trainer with over twenty-five years’ experience in the field.
He has taught all ages and levels, both in the UK and also in Indonesia, where he lived for four years. He worked for University of Westminster for 18 years, but is now co-runs the online language school and training company www.lexicallab.com. He has co-authored two five-level General English series, Outcomes and Innovations, both published by National Geographic Learning, as well as one level of the high-school series Perspectives. His first methodology book, Teaching Lexically, came out via Delta Publishing in 2016. Most recently, he has worked on two levels of the new Pearson General English series, Roadmap.
Hugh has given teacher training and development sessions in over twenty countries including Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Spain, Russia, Italy, Japan and Thailand. He has spoken on such wide-ranging topics as the nature of English as a Lingua Franca, the uses and abuses of corpora, approaches to teaching grammar and vocabulary, as well as many others.