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The Advantages and Drawbacks of Foreign Language Learning

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Every language consists of a collection of numerous words where the creation of new words go on and on and it never finishes. The group of words denominates the vocabulary and its amount plays a very important role in communication, especially in expressing the ideas spontaneously. Its value is really relevant in the learning of a foreign language because it allows fluency in oral and written communication and the creation of rich lexical messages. In previous years, more emphasis was given to the learning of grammatical structures as compared to the vocabulary learning and teaching. However, with the passing of years emphasis was started to given on the teaching of vocabulary since its level makes the communication effective. A good level of vocabulary is essential and an important criteria in learning because it allows the learner to express himself/herself without any constraint. It has been observed that there exists a significant lack of vocabulary in foreign language students, specifically here French in the undergraduate students of the private Indian university. The lack of vocabulary is characterized by some signs shown by the students in the classroom. In most of the cases when students are asked about the name of an item in the target language, they tend to use their mother tongue because of the lack of knowledge of the word in the foreign language; or they simply stay silent because they do not know or do not remember the word in French.

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Another aspect is that students do not discriminate words correctly as they do not know their meanings and many times they get confused with words that have a similar spelling or sound; this inability of the students to discriminate the words, propels the students to use wrong terminology which distorts the sense of the message. Also, the students have some difficulties when recognizing objects around them, elements or topics that include simple vocabulary such as the parts of the body, numbers, the alphabet, college supplies, among others. Among these what is most noticeable is that students cannot answer questions, showing thus their inability and insecurity while responding as they are the beginners in the foreign language and have heard little of the foreign language ,here French or no French in their previous academic years of study. As specialists in the teaching of a foreign language, teachers have the responsibility for contributing to the significant learning of vocabulary, not just as knowledge but as something that must be present in students’ real life. And the ways to achieve that goal can be indulging in different activities during the language classes or sessions like songs, craft activities, role plays, games, and others. However, from all these I consider that a technique that can help students learn in a fun and active way is through language games as in one point of our lives that is in childhood everyone had played games and even now if we get the time to indulge in these activities, one would love to do it irrespective of age, class and society. However many teachers feel that games take a lot of time and this time can be used for better purposes. In response to this I feel that the idea most of the teachers have in relation to the use of games as a time waste activity in the classroom is not at all negative since the advantages they provide for the students are significant in terms of learning and fun, because that should be the idea of any foreign language lesson, a moment where you learn by having fun; so the use of language games can be used as a means of encouraging students to learn actively and be more engaged with their process of learning.

Background of Teaching Vocabulary

The appropriate choice of vocabulary in communication plays an important role in conveying the meaning as much as grammar. Insufficient vocabulary hinders the comprehension of the meaning in a text. Before the 1970s, vocabulary was not regarded as an important component of language teaching. Vocabulary was not an area to focus on, the issue of vocabulary remained avoided. The lack of attention to vocabulary has been also attributed to the dominant influence of audio-linguism and the direct method used during that period. In the Audio-lingual Method teaching structural patterns and drills had priority, not vocabulary. The Direct Method, on the other hand, was indeed in favor of teaching vocabulary, but it claims that the vocabulary should be learnt in context and without much explanation or translation. During the 1970s, however, because of the influence of communicative language teaching, the importance of vocabulary was recognized again. Researchers started to point out the importance of vocabulary knowledge and vocabulary instruction. The fact that massive vocabulary instruction should be given from the early stages of learning; and vocabulary teaching should be given more importance in FL programs was also suggested by Judd in 1978. Many other authors and researchers also started to consider vocabulary acquisition important and proposed ideas on vocabulary teaching. In 1983 Rivers argued for the vital need to acquire a large enough vocabulary because with an inadequate vocabulary, learners would not be able to use the structures and functions that they learned for understandable communication. Gass and Selinker in 1994 thought along the same lines, stating that, sentences which have grammatical errors, can be understood whereas the ones that contain lexical errors have less possibility of being understood. 

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