Senin, 02 November 2020


Knowing a word (vocabulary) is important, even it is more important than knowing grammar. as stated  by Thornbury that 'without grammar very little can be conveyed, without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed.’ ‘If you spend most of your time studying grammar, your English will not improve very much. You will see most improvement if you learn more words and expressions. You can say very little with grammar, but you can say almost anything with words!’. But what does it mean to know a word? Knowing a word is knowing its 

1. Spelling
This first thing we must know on knowing a word is the spelling (its written form). This is important  as many  English  words can not easily predicted on its spelling. So we must know well how words are written. 

2. Meaning
Knowing the meaning of a word by consulting to dictionary actually is not easy, as usually one word has many different meanings. We must be able to choose the correct choices.

3. Pronunciation 
To be able to pronounce the word correctly when opening the dictionary, the knowledge of phonetics and phonology is needed. However todays dictionary software are facilitated by words pronunciation. 

4. Part of speech
Knowing  a word is also knowing whether it is noun, pronoun, adjective, determiner, verb, adverb, preposition, conjunction, or interjection. 

5. Derivational form
The form of English word can be changed by adding suffixes and prefixes.  Our knowledge on these will be very helpful in using the word receptively or productively.

6. Collocation
In English, we are not free to form words as we like. Some words need to be combined with a certain word (collocation), or our English  will be abnormal.

7. Connotation
Sometimes we need to be careful in using the word we know, as some words have different connotative meaning. 

8. Register
A register of English is a variety of the language as used in specific contexts, such as legal English, academic English, or technical English. In dictionary, it is not very easy to find the register of words. The knowledge of register of a word is not  very needed so much.

9. Frequency
Our knowledge of  degree of frequency of words in spoken and written English. may be important. however it is not needed so much. besides, it is not easy to know the word frequency in a dictionary.

At the basic level knowing a word is knowing its spelling and meaning.  Your knowledge about the word at this  level is receptive knowledge. It means your knowledge about this word only can be used in reading and listening activities. You can not used this knowledge in writing and speaking activities.

Your knowledge about a word will be productive if you know at least its spelling, meaning, pronunciation, and part of speech. And it is best if you all the above nine aspects. In writing activity for example, you need to know the part of speech. Its part of speech will determine its position in phrase or sentence. On speaking,  you need to know not only part of speech of the word but also its pronunciation.


Thornbury, Scott. 2002. How to Teach Vocabulary. Pearson Education Limited: England

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