The Truth about Lexical Sets
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Learning vocabulary is one of the great challenges of learning a language, not only because there are literally thousands of words in a language to learn, but because one word can have different meanings, different words can have similar meanings, words can have literal and figurative meanings and words are usually used in chunks or collocations.
Subsequently, this area of learning has been studied in depth and there have been a lot of theories in the ELT field about the most effective way to teach vocabulary as we try to find the best way to help our learners learn vocabulary. One such theory is that of lexical sets.
What are lexical sets?
The theory in question posits that the best way to learn vocabulary is in sets of words which fit together semantically. In other words, words that belong to the same meaning set; for example, knife, fork and spoon or sunny, rainy and cloudy.
Because of this theory, the majority of ELT coursebooks utilise this method in their coursebooks.
The problem with lexical sets
Even though this may seem logical, research has in fact shown that teaching vocabulary in lexical sets hinders rather than helps learning. Learners who learn vocabulary in sets have problems remembering the correct item in a group; in other words, they confuse the different words they have learnt together. Consequently, learning vocabulary items in related sets makes learning take longer and was considered more difficult to learners.
This can be difficult to understand if you think of English word sets – because we are already familiar with the words and their meanings – but if you consider words in a foreign language which have related meanings you may start to understand why learners would get confused. If you don’t already have a meaning attached to a word, the different meanings of these words can easily be mixed up.
How can we help our learners learn vocabulary?
Ultimately, there are a few things we can do to help our learners learn vocabulary without resorting to teaching in lexical sets.
Here are a few ideas:
- Don’t teach vocabulary in related sets. Teach vocabulary as it comes out in your lessons i.e. in context and try to reduce any opportunities for interference from similar vocabulary items.
- Don’t teach related words together, for example antonyms or synonyms.
- Teach related words at different times.
- Teach related words in very different contexts.
- Only show the relationship between related words when one of those words is already known well.
- Teach your students not to learn vocabulary in lexical sets.
When teaching vocabulary, be aware of how your coursebook presents vocabulary to be learnt. You may need to manipulate the materials slightly in order to prevent teaching vocabulary in lexical sets.
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LAST UPDATED: 27th August 2021
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Information Governance & Risk Management Team
Everything TEFL Ltd
28 – 32 Pembroke Street,
Republic of Ireland
Telephone: +353 (1) 554 6227
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We collect and use personal information to offer people information, products and services. This policy will apply in all locations where we operate to all forms of information and to all systems used to collect, store, process or transfer information.
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- ensuring that actual or suspected breaches of information security are reported and investigated
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We will provide adequate and appropriate resources to implement this policy and will ensure it is communicated and understood.
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We’ll use your personal information to send you direct marketing and to better identify products and services that interest you. We do that if you’re one of our customers or if you’ve been in touch with us another way (such as registering to attend an Everything TEFL Ltd event).
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- tell you about other products and services you might be interested in;
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We use the following for marketing and to identify the products and services you’re interested in.
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We’ll send you information (about the products and services we provide) by phone, post, email, text message, online banner advertising. We also use the information we have about you to personalise these messages wherever we can as we believe it is important to make them relevant to you. We do this because we have a legitimate business interest in keeping you up to date with our products and services. We also check that you are happy for us to send you marketing messages before we do so. In each message we send, you also have the option to opt-out.
We’ll only market other organisations’ products and services if you have said it is OK for us to do so.
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Everything TEFL Ltd retains personal information in line with our corporate retention requirements. Your data will be stored within the European Economic Area (“the EEA”) (The EEA consists of all EU member states, plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein). However, in some circumstances, part or all of your data may be stored or transferred outside of the European Economic Area (“the EEA”). You are deemed to accept and agree to this by using our site and submitting information to us. If we do store or transfer data outside the EEA, we will take all reasonable steps to ensure that your data is treated as safely and securely as it would be within the EEA and under the GDPR. Such steps may include, but not be limited to, the use of legally binding contractual terms between us and any third parties we engage with, and the use of the EU-approved Model Contractual Arrangements. If we intend at any time to transfer any of your data outside the EEA, we will always obtain your consent beforehand.
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- a request in writing (by post or by email)
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- proof of your identity
- proof of your home address
- any information that we reasonably need to locate the information you have requested (for example details of the Everything TEFL Ltd offices or staff that you have had contact with and when)
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Rights concerning the processing of your personal information
- Right to restrict processing of personal information
- In some situations, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of your personal information. We may restrict your personal information by temporarily moving the information to another processing system, making the information unavailable to users, or temporarily removing published information from a website. We may also use technical methods to ensure the personal information is not subject to further processing and cannot be changed. When we have restricted processing of personal information, this will be clearly indicated on our systems.
- You can require us to restrict processing in the following circumstances:
- You are concerned that the information we hold about you is inaccurate. You can ask us to restrict the information until we can determine whether the information is accurate or inaccurate.
- We are processing your personal data unlawfully and you do not want us to delete the information but restrict it instead.
- We no longer need the information for the purposes for which we collected it, but they are needed by you for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.
- You have objected to the processing (see below), and we need to decide whether the legitimate grounds we have to process the information override your legitimate interests.
Processing you think is unlawful
- If you tell us that you think we are processing your personal information unlawfully, but you do not want the information to be erased, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of that information.
- We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the processing is unlawful, and may also ask that you provide evidence to support this view.
Processing of personal information you think is inaccurate
- You can tell us if you think the personal information we are processing about you is factually inaccurate. You can require us to restrict how we use your personal information until we can verify the accuracy of the information. We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the information is inaccurate, and may also ask that you provide some supporting evidence of the alleged inaccuracy.
- If we find that the personal information we are processing about you is inaccurate, we will take appropriate steps to correct the information.
Personal information is no longer needed by Everything TEFL Ltd but needed by you in connection with a legal claim
- In most circumstances, we will securely delete or dispose of personal information when we no longer need it for our legitimate business purposes. Our approach to retention is outlined in our corporate retention schedules.
- However, if the personal information we no longer need would assist you in establishing, exercising or defending a legal claim, you can require us to keep the information for as long as necessary. We may ask you to provide an explanation and any available supporting evidence that a legal claim is ongoing or contemplated.
Right to erasure of personal data (“the right to be forgotten”)
In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that Everything TEFL Ltd securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
- If the personal information we hold about you is no longer necessary for the purposes for which we originally collected it.
- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to Everything TEFL Ltd collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think Everything TEFL Ltd has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the Everything TEFL Ltd processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the Everything TEFL Ltd has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, Everything TEFL Ltd is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the Everything TEFL Ltd.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to Everything TEFL Ltd, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
Everything TEFL Ltd
28 – 32 Pembroke Street,
Republic of Ireland
Telephone: +353 (1) 554 6227
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.