In part 1 I discussed some of the things I like about coursebooks and how I try to use them. Today I’d like to talk about one of the things that bother me the most in coursebooks: vocabulary lists.
Many of the coursebooks I have worked with, from a variety of publishers, include vocabulary lists or vocabulary boxes, frequently presented with no context. At basic (A1) or intermediate (B1) levels, these lists tend to be part of lexical sets (e.g. clothes or professions). At higher levels, on the other hand, they may appear in lists such as ‘phrasal verbs with get’.
Scott Thornbury (2002:37) explains that “words that are too closely associated tend to interfere with each other, and can actually make the learning task more difficult. Words that can fill the same slot in a sentence are particularly likely to be confused”.
Take for example this list of items that appears in the same advanced coursebook I mentioned in part 1: