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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- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to ELEARNING FUTURES 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 ELEARNING FUTURES 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 ELEARNING FUTURES 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 ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, ELEARNING FUTURES 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 ELEARNING FUTURES 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 ELEARNING FUTURES 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
ELEARNING FUTURES LTD,
21-22 Old Steine,
Email: [email protected]
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.