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07 Jun

Teaching Vocabulary

Teaching Vocabulary

Words are the substance of language and language is the repository of knowledge. As C.L Wren remarks, “Of all world languages, English probably has the vocabulary which is the most copious, heterogeneous and varied”. Neither is it possible, nor is it necessary to learn all these words.


F.G French classifies words in relation to its users. He divides words into 3 groups:

  1. The small number of words that a person knows intimately and can use effectively. French compares these words to our ‘friends’. These words constitute the active vocabulary.
  2. The relatively large number of words that a person understands but does not normally use in speech and writing. French compares these words to our ‘acquaintances’. These constitute our passive vocabulary.
  3. The vast number of remaining words that a person does not know. French compares these words to ‘strangers’.


Like our friends, acquaintances and strangers words too keep changing their sides. A new word (a stranger) may enter our active vocabulary (may become our friend), while a known word (a friend) may be forgotten owing to long disuse.


Associated Vocabulary: Words that are related to a particular topic.

Ad-hoc Vocabulary: Words that are important in a particular context. The students may not need these words outside the context.


Copyright © Manu Mangattu, Assistant Professor, Department of English, SGC Aruvithura

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