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semantic prosody, and colligation, the voices of

typical language learners are largely omitted in this

volume. In my view, this is the missing bridge
between the reflective practice of the first half of the
book and the theoretical issues in the second.
Lewis chooses to bridge that gap by including a
short story in Calloways code (Chapter 6), showing
how collocations central to a particular theme carry
the weight of a texts meaning. However, it is
perhaps only by including more detail about actual
stages of learner collocational development that
deeper questions of how collocations are learnt and
mis-learnt may be better answered in the future.
The appeal by Lewis remains pitched, first, towards
using small native speaker corpora, concordances,
and collocational dictionaries as the central
resources for training learners to notice
collocational patterns (Chapter 9 Materials and
resources for teaching collocation); a second,
weaker call is made for creating corpora of learner
language-in-use for assessing collocational
proficiency and typical blocked collocations or mis-
collocations that different groups of learners may
use (Peter Hargreaves, Chapter 10 Collocation and
testing). Here, Hargreavess account of the
research being done by UCLES into the Cambridge
Learner Corpus is of particular interest, although,
surprisingly, no mention is made of Grangers work
with the International Corpus of Learner English
(ICLE) into collocations and lexical phrases
(Granger 1998). One other minor quibble with
Teaching Collocation is the incomplete cross-
referencing between works cited and the final
bibliography (pp. 2445), where, for example, the
reference for the Longman Grammar of Spoken and
Written English (cited several times in Chapter 7) is
missing; a number of page numbers for journal
articles are not included. An index would have been
useful, too.
All in all, the picture that Lewis presents is of an
exciting pedagogic challenge, and an accessible
research agenda. In his call for teachers to carry out
their own action research into a lexical approach to
language learning, Lewis seems aware that applied
linguistic research on its own will not change how
teachers ask their learners to learn lexis. Test for
yourself the claims made of collocations, he
appeals. Observe, hypothesize, experiment: it is a
confident appeal, and one well worth teachers and
learners addressing and answering together.
Granger, S. (ed.) 1998. Learner English on Computer.
Harlow: Addison Wesley Longman.
Hoey, M. 1991. Patterns of Lexis in Text. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.
Lewis, M. 1993. The Lexical Approach. Hove:
Language Teaching Publications.
Lewis, M. 1997. Implementing the Lexical Approach.
Hove: Language Teaching Publications.
Schmitt, N. 2000. Vocabulary in Language Teaching.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Walton, R. and M. Bartram. 2000. Initiative.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
The reviewer
Andy Barfield teaches general English and EAP to
undergraduate and MA students at the University
of Tsukuba, Japan. He is also actively involved in
university English curriculum development, and in-
service teacher development. He is currently
working on a distance PhD in second language
vocabulary acquisition with the University of Wales,
Vocabulary in Language Teaching
N. Schmitt
Cambridge University Press 2000, 224pp.,
35.00 (hbk) 12.95 (pbk)
isbn 0 521 66938 3
Vocabulary in Language Teaching is one of a number
of books on vocabulary to have come from
researchers at Nottingham University. Starting with
Ron Carters Vocabulary (1988, 1998) and continuing
with books such as Carter and McCarthys
Vocabulary and Language Teaching (1988),
McCarthys Vocabulary (1990), and Schmitt and
McCarthy (eds) Vocabulary: Description, Acquisition
and Pedagogy (1997), the Nottingham authors have
shown us the importance of vocabulary within the
English language. This may sound like a trite
statement, but too often the main focus of the
language has been on grammar, with vocabulary a
kind of added-on, optional extra. Working mainly
with corpora, they, along with others such as Sinclair
(1991) and Lewis (1993), have been among the first
to point out that words do not exist in isolation, that
the open choice or slot-and-filler theory is not
tenable: you cannot just put any word in any place in
a sentence, even if the grammar is correct. Your
choice of words frequently dictates what follows, as
far as both grammar and other vocabulary items are
Reviews 415
Schmitt, a former research student, and now a
lecturer in English language at Nottingham, has
been fortunate to have had such able teachers and
Schmitt picks up on many of the issues raised by
Carter, McCarthy, and others in the field. If you have
read much of the previous work, then this book
might come as a slight disappointment: there is
not a great deal here that is new or original.
However, if you have not had the opportunity, or
the time, to read previous books on vocabulary,
then this is a very good introduction to recent
research on vocabulary. It provides teachers with
the background knowledge they need to
understand current issues in vocabulary research,
teaching, and testing. The book also has an
excellent bibliography, thus giving people who are
interested the appropriate references which will
allow them to take further their reading in the
various topics covered. This is important, as
Schmitt deals with a lot in a fairly short book, and
many readers will, I am sure, want to look more
deeply at some of the issues raised.
Schmitt is particularly good at explaining what it
means to know a word, and at reminding us just
how complicated learning words can be. As
teachers, we sometimes naively feel that once we
have explained meaning then we have done our
job. Schmitt shows clearly that that is not the case:
meaning is only one of a number of factors,
including register, collocation, grammar, synonymy,
and so on. Teachers know this; but it does no harm
to have it pointed out so clearly.
I have to say that at times I found the structure of
the book slightly confusing, as I was not sure why
the author was looking at a particular topic in a
particular place. He tries to cover a great deal of
material, but some of it does not fit quite
comfortably into the book, and so has to be
introduced more than once. It is, of course,
reasonable to repeat topics later on in which have
already appeared briefly in the Introduction.
However, I did not find that this approach was
always helpful. The issue of frequency, for example,
was raised in different chapters, and I felt it would
perhaps have been more helpful to have had all the
information given at one place in the book. Also, for
me, Chapter 2, History of vocabulary in language
learning, seems wrongly placed, since the
following four chapters deal with more theoretical
issuesdifferent aspects of knowing a word, the
use of corpora, and vocabulary in discourse. We
then move on to vocabulary acquisition, teaching
and learning vocabulary, and assessing vocabulary
knowledge; and it is perhaps in this second half of
the book that Chapter 2 more comfortably belongs.
A minor quibble, perhaps; but one that kept
coming back to me, as it was responsible for most
of my I have been here before reactions.
As someone who is very interested in the study of
vocabulary, I was a little disappointed by the
number of examples that Schmitt uses from other
published work (mainly that of Carter and
McCarthy). I wanted to see new examples, which
corroborated those previously given, rather than
repetitions of those previously published. When
dealing with collocation, for example, Schmitt
discusses the word blonde on p. 77, and says that
it collocates almost exclusively with hair, and
occasionally with a word like woman or lady.
Hes right; but how often has this example been
used? Again, on p. 78, Schmitt talks about what I
(after Sinclair and Louw) call semantic prosody
and he calls collocational prosodyi.e. the
tendency that some words have to collocate with a
definable semantic set of words, all or most of
which have positive or negative collocations. One
simple example of this is the phrasal verb break
out, which habitually collocates with the nouns
war, fighting, fire, and panic, all of which have
negative connotations. Another negative example
is rife, which collocates with words such as
rumours, drugs, and violence. Schmitt gives the
examples of cause (negative prosody) and
provide (positive prosody), both of which were
persuasively discussed by Stubbs (1995), without
adding anything to what he has already said. There
are many other examples that he could have given,
which would have exemplified his point and also
taken the study of collocational prosody on a little
further. The more we know about the way words
cluster, the better we should be able to teach them,
and thus the more typically our students should be
able to use them.
However, these criticisms would probably not be
relevant to someone new to the study of
vocabulary. The examples given are all pertinent,
and aptly express the points Schmitt is making.
Presumably he has chosen them because they are
so central to his argument. They also have the
advantage of pointing readers towards the work of
other authors in the field, which is, I am sure, one
of the aims Schmitt had in mind when writing this
book. He is an enthusiast for vocabulary studies,
and obviously wants to share this enthusiasm with
others. I have no doubt that he will do so with this
book, which I would recommend to anyone coming
into teaching or wanting to get to grips with the
416 Reviews
major issues being discussed in the field of
vocabulary studies.
Carter, R. 1988. (2nd edn. 1998). Vocabulary: Applied
Linguistic Perspectives. London: Routledge.
Carter, R. and M. McCarthy. 1998. Vocabulary and
Language Teaching. London: Longman.
Lewis, M. 1993. The Lexical Approach. Hove: LTP.
Louw, B. 1993. Irony in the text or insincerity in the
writer?the diagnostic potential of semantic
prosodies in Baker, M., G. Franco, and E. Tognini-
Bonelli (eds.) Text and Technology: In Honour of John
Sinclair. Philadelphia and Amsterdam: John
Benjamin. 15776.
McCarthy, M. 1990. Vocabulary. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.
Schmitt, N. and M. McCarthy (eds.). 1997.
Vocabulary: Description, Acquisition, and Pedagogy.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sinclair, J. 1991. Corpus, Concordance, Collocation.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Stubbs, M. 1995. Collocations and semantic
profiles: On the cause of the trouble with semantic
studies. Functions of Language 2/1: 133.
The reviewer
Gwyneth Fox started her career as an EFL teacher in
Rome. She returned to the UK to lecture in Applied
Linguistics and run teacher training courses at
Birmingham Polytechnic. From 1981 to 1997 she
worked on the COBUILD project at the University of
Birmingham, writing dictionaries and grammars.
During this time she travelled widely, giving talks,
workshops, and seminars on corpora and
vocabulary studies at conferences and universities
around the world. She is now a Teaching Fellow at
the University of Birmingham, and works for
Macmillan Heinemann ELT as their dictionary
Research into Teaching English to Young Learners
J. Moon and M. Nikolov (eds.)
University Press Pecs Hungary 2000, 416pp., 15
from Blackwells Bookshop, University of Leeds
isbn 0 963 641 568 4
Research into Teaching English to Young Learners
consists of 20 papers from two international
conferences held in Hungary and Poland in the
autumn of 1999. The editors acknowledge that
despite the current popularity of early foreign
language programmes there is still insufficient
empirical research to underpin this enthusiasm
with evidence of how and to what level children
develop proficiency in foreign languages in
particular kinds of context, and on how realistic the
aims are of many current curricular innovations for
teaching English to young learners (TEYL) (p. 11).
They state the three aims of the book, therefore, as
being to raise awareness about the range of issues
involved in researching TEYL, to identify directions
for research, and to disseminate recent work
carried out in different contexts by researchers in
Europe and elsewhere (ibid.).
These aims are clearly relevant in the broad context
of the rapid increase in demand for the teaching of
English to young learners. Issues such as teacher
supply, teacher education, materials development
and evaluation, young learner assessment, and
continuity between primary and secondary
education need to be thought through, researched,
documented, and debated. Without the benefit of
evidence and documented experience the
profession risks forming policy through the
repeated reinventing of wheels, and by resorting to
anecdotes. This means of decision-making has
been memorably characterized elsewhere by
Bowers(1980: 71), as reliance on war stories and
As for the research focus, the volume is divided
into four sections, moving from macro
considerations of research agenda to the
exploration of national and international findings,
and then from focus on the teacher of young
learners to the young learners themselves. As space
does not permit a discussion of each article, I will
limit my comments to one from each section.
In the first section, General Issues in Researching
Young Learners: Setting Agendas, Nikolovs article,
Issues in Research into Early Foreign Language
Programmes, provides a lucid, accessible, and
balanced survey of child second language
acquisition research issues, as seen from three
points of view: the younger the better, the older
and better, and the younger the better in some
areas (p. 21). It also analyses the validity and
reliability of the findings of early foreign language
programmes of the 1990s. The article meets the
volumes intended aim of suggesting future
directions for research, with a list of implications
for future research (p. 41), and comments such as:
It is surprising that there is no study on how
teachers proficiency, and especially pronunciation,
influences young learners language development
Reviews 417