The Technology Curriculum: A Context for Language Learning?


Using New Technologies to Build Vocabulary

Web resources such as help us to explore the more complex meanings of words and help our students to build up their vocabularies so they are prepared to wrestle with big words, obfuscation and symantic jugglery.
Other Web sites that support the exploration of word meanings:
  1. The Visual Thesaurus
  2. Visuwords

The Limitations of Dictionary Learning

In George Orwell's 1984, the leaders hoped to reduce the vocabulary of the proles to fewer than one thousand words. In that way, they reasoned, the citizens would not be capable of crimethink.
'Crimestop' - Orwell's definition: "The faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. In short....protective stupidity."

One study of those who scored well on the SAT verbal test resulted in astonishing fact that the understanding of most of them of the words they learnt for the test was meager. They could pick up the right multiple choice and perform analogies, but their comprehension was superficial.

Limits of Dictionary Learning
  • A tendency to oversimplify
  • Memorization does not equate with understanding
  • Mystery requires more
Schools should prepare the young to value complexity and see its connection to understanding. This challenge is a matter of blending skill with attitude.

Interesting Resources for the teachers
  1. Second Language Learning Strategies
  2. Learning Languages