Saturday, December 15, 2012

Technical Vocabulary - delivered weekly

A very useful – and free – source of technical vocabulary, for both teachers and students, is the newsletter Technical Word of the Week, the property of Paul East and Cornelia Kreis-Meyer of The Pyramid Group. To subscribe:

Each email includes:
·        the word of the week,
·        definitions,
·        link to spoken pronunciation,
·        a translation into 10 languages (German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Finnish, Dutch, Greek, Russian, Arabic),
·        word family,
·        synonyms,
·        antonyms and
·        examples of the word in use.

It’s this last feature that I find most useful for classroom work. Students should learn that one-to-one translations don’t always work, and that the words that “go with” the featured word (prepositions, collocations, etc) could be different in their own language. When learning a new word (or learning more about a word students think they already ‘know’), it’s important to also learn how the word is used in context.

These examples can be used to focus students on aspects of the word in use. For example, for the word “fluctuate” examples of collocations include: price fluctuation, fluctuating workloads, fluctuating prices, temperature fluctuations, frequency fluctuations, voltage fluctuations.

I encourage my students to subscribe. Getting a vocabulary item that’s useful in technical contexts on a regular basis keeps them focused on the development of their English – and motivates them to take responsibility for expanding their technical vocabulary.

And for me, added bonuses are the “resource of the week,” which often leads me to sources of useful texts or ideas, “videos,” and “extra activities”.


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