Word Choice Lesson Plan 2 - Word Search Strategy Training

Created by Jin Kim (Spring, 2012)

Students will be able to...
  •      Use Google, Word and Phrase. Info, Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) as reference tools when choosing the “right word” to use in academic writing
  •       Recognize important considerations for successful word search using the reference tools above
·         Students & Teachers: Register (free) for http://www.wordandphrase.info/frequencyList.asp (This would also allow them access to http://corpus.byu.edu/coca/ since they can use the same email and password to log into both websites). Bring the copy of Word Choice Diagnostic Test they took in the previous class.   
·         Teachers: Familiarize yourself with two main reference tools for this lesson COCA and its new interface (Word and Phrase. Info). Use COCA Tutorial to study on your own.
Note: you may share this tutorial with students as well after today’s lesson if desired.

Teacher Instructions and Tasks:

[10 minutes] Introduction of Lesson Objectives  

Introduce students to the objectives of today’s lesson stated above and explain to them that we are going to use the examples from Word ChoiceDiagnostic Test to demonstrate how to use different reference tools to prevent different word choice errors without relying on our intuition. You may also tell your students the following note about how they should approach the matter of using reference tools for word choice problems.

(Note: as non-native speakers, students’ intuition for choosing the right words is not yet fully developed and there is also L1 inhibition in their judgment. Nonetheless, building a reliable intuition for choosing the right words through comprehensive reading is the ultimate solution to preventing word choice problems since using reference tools like Google or COCA can only be effective when students already know at least which word sounds somewhat wrong or awkward)

Ask students to open Google.com and log into http://www.wordandphrase.info/frequencyList.asp website.

[40 minutes] Word Choice Problem-Solving Practice

Walk students through Word Choice ProblemSolving Guide. Use the key to guide them step by step. I recommend you to share this key handout after class for those students who want to review the search processes at home.

Homework: Find three "word choice" problems. Solve the problem using Google, http://www.wordandphrase.info/frequencyList.asp, or http://corpus.byu.edu/coca/.
Name your homework file as
First name_word choice homework

To view students' homework and teacher feedback samples, visit here.  
To view ESL 115 class survey results of this lesson, visit here
To view a teaching reflection written after this lesson, visit here.

Supplementary materials:

Word Choice Lesson Plan 1

Created by Jin Kim (Spring, 2012)

Students will be able to...
  •       Recognize common sources of word choice problems, such as using wrong forms (wrong spelling or part of speech), style (informal word choice), idiomatic errors (using wrong articles or prepositions for phrasal verbs), collocation errors
  •       Consider various aspects of vocabulary (part of speech, register, spelling, collocation, meaning in context, frequency, synonymy, etc.) when choosing the “right word” to use in academic writing
  •       Share some common search strategies and reference tools people use when choosing the “right word”
Teacher Instructions and Tasks:

[10 minutes] Diagnostic Test
Give students the Word ChoiceDiagnostic Test in hard copy and have them follow directions to answer all items in step 1 and 2.

[20 minutes] Small group Discussion
Give students the discussion prompt below and have them find the answers to the diagnostic test together in small groups. You may first give them an example to demonstrate how to discuss the questions together by discussing the answer for item 1 in step 1. You may have every group examine all items at the same time or assign smaller sets of items for each group to examine (e.g. assign #1~3 in step 1 to group 1, #4~6 to group 2, etc.) and then have each group report their findings to the whole class.

Group Discussion Prompt
1.       What is the right (or more appropriate) word choice?
2.      The wrong word choice:
            1)      What type of error is made in this word choice? (e.g. spelling, grammar, style, etc.)
            2)     How common is this error in our writing?
            3)     How can we avoid an error like this? (What kinds of strategies can we use?)
Share the strategies or reference tools you often use to solve this word choice problem.

[10 minutes] Answer Check & Class Discussion
Debrief findings from small group discussions as a class. Use Word Choice Diagnostic Test (Key) as a guide. Remember that the purpose of the discussion is not to “teach” students what to do to solve the problems (this will be addressed in Word Choice Lesson 2) but to raise students’ awareness of the sources of common errors in vocabulary and investigate strategies that students use to avoid such errors than about telling them what to do to solve problems.

[10 minutes~] Optional – Understanding Collocations
Among all different types of word choice errors, students may not be well aware of “collocation” errors yet. To raise students’ awareness, you may hand out CollocationWorksheet to students. Go over definitions and examples with students. Then, have them do the simple practice as homework. Emphasize the importance of learning collocations when learning a new word or phrases. Here is the key.

For the next class (Word Choice Strategy Training), have students register for http://www.wordandphrase.info/.This would also allow them access to http://corpus.byu.edu/coca/ since they can use the same email and password to log into both websites.

Supplementary materials:

Zimmerman, C. (2009).  Word Knowledge.  New York: Oxford University Press

ESL 115 Students' Word Choice Homework

After teaching word choice lesson 1 and 2, I had my students do "word choice homework" with the following directions.

Directions: Find three "word choice" problems that I marked in your diagnostic essay. Solve the problems using Google, COCA, or Word and Phrase. Info. Name your homework file as "First name_word choice homework.
Here are some samples of students' work and my feedback:

Here is the student survey result conducted after the homework was submitted.