Mental Lexicon and English Vocabulary Teaching

Mar. 2009, Volume 7, No.3 (Serial No.65)

US-China Foreign Language, ISSN 1539-8080, USA

Mental lexicon and English vocabulary teaching
(Foreign Languages School, Qingdao University of Science and Technology, Qingdao 266061, China)

Abstract: Vocabulary teaching plays an important role in foreign language teaching. The theory of mental lexicon explains how words are organized and accessed in human brain from the angle of psycholinguistics, studies of which provide vital indications to English vocabulary teaching. With the theories of mental lexicon, this article aims to explore, how to facilitate learner’s vocabulary acquisition effectively in the process of English teaching. Key words: mental lexicon; organization; lexical access; English vocabulary teaching

1. Introduction
Acquisition of vocabulary has always played an important role, and maybe a central role in learning a foreign language. Vocabulary is often more important in communication, and a solid vocabulary is necessary in every stage of language learning. Just as McCarthy (1997, p. viii) stated, “No matter how well the students learn grammar, no matter how well successfully the sounds of L2 are mastered, without words to express a wider range of meanings, communication in an L2 just can not happen in any meaningful way”. Communication will break down when people do not use the right words, and it is frustrating for learners when they discover they can not communicate effectively because they do not know enough words. Mental lexicon has explained how words are organized and accessed in human brain from the angle of psycholinguistics. And studies of mental lexicon can provide some vital indications to English vocabulary teaching.

2. Mental lexicon
Psycholinguists refer to the representation of words in permanent memory as our mental lexicon. When a given word in our lexicon has been found, the properties we associate with the word become available for use. These properties...