Content, structure and levels of mastering foreign vocabulary in a medical higher education institution

Analysis of the system of knowledge and skills in the field of foreign language and foreign vocabulary as a component, the possession of which ensures the development of contextual thinking. Formation of attention, perception, memory and subjectivity.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
Вид статья
Язык английский
Дата добавления 21.07.2018
Размер файла 22,6 K

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UDC 811.161.2.373

Associate Professor at the Department of Foreign Languages


Oleksii K.B.

Under the mastering foreign vocabulary we understand the process of bilateral interaction between the lecturer and students, aimed at acquiring new knowledge in the field of a foreign language; formation of knowledge and skills of intercultural communication; development of cognitive processes: attention, perception, memory, contextual thinking; provision of cognitive activity or subjectivity of students.

The content of the mastering foreign vocabulary, in our opinion, is a system of knowledge and skills in the field of foreign language and foreign vocabulary as its component, possession of which ensures the development of such cognitive processes as contextual thinking, attention, perception and memory, formation of subjectivity.

Thus, the structure of mastering foreign vocabulary, in our understanding, is the totality of its components, namely: knowledge and skills; cognitive processes: contextual thinking, attention, perception, memory; and subjectivity.

Consider the abovementioned components of the mastering foreign vocabulary. In the centre of work on the lexical side of a foreign language is lexical enrichment of oral and written speech when working with general and specialized texts provided by the program of study a foreign language in a medical HEI. Knowledge of vocabulary, language lexical knowledge and skills imply that students shall:

- be able to find a way to convey the meaning of English words (including realities) in the Ukrainian language;

- be able to collect and systematize English words necessary to describe the Ukrainian realities in the English language;

- identify synonyms, antonyms, root words (within the framework of the subject of educational communication);

- generate new words using different models of word formation;

- disclose the meanings of multicomponent words and expressions;

- use monolingual dictionaries (explanatory dictionary, reference books) and bilingual dictionaries;

- be able to choose teaching aids for independent work on expanding lexical vocabulary in accordance with individual needs.

We will clarify the concepts of “thinking” and “context” to further understanding of the problem of mastering foreign vocabulary, highlighting contextual thinking as means of the abovementioned mastering.

Thinking is a multi-faceted concept, but we are more interested in “speech thinking” as a special form of thinking, which has emerged in the general structure of conscious, expedient activity and has become a special by relatively independent expression of its original and essential integrity through the mastering of communicative means and speech activity itself [6, p. 135]. At the same time, the universal means of communication distinguish language as the most important factor in the formation of individual consciousness, which carries in itself, in each element (in lexical meanings of words, particles, phonemes, etc.) common meaning of actual objects of activity (at the same place) to all those who speak this language.

When dealing with a foreign language (foreign language text or speech) the learner encounters unfamiliar vocabulary, however he/she catches the thought by revealing the meanings of new lexical units through the context. This ability we call contextual thinking.

The context is a verbal or written speech with meaningful completeness, which makes it possible to find out the meaning and significance of individual fragments that make up its composition.

The context serves as a semantic limiter in the process of production and perception of a speech utterance. In the process of speech generation, the semantic limitations, imposed by the context on the use of linguistic units, including lexical ones, are manifested as the interdependence of units in the composition of utterance and as removal of polysemy, inherent to units in the language system [4, p. 186]. In the process of generating an utterance, a semantic correspondence shall be established between units of different language levels, and especially lexical and syntactic, since they reflect the basic ways of speech representation of meanings. In addition, in recent decades, the view has become widespread that the sentence is regarded as a special nominative unit. Its difference from the word lies in the fact that the sentence is a complete, complex sign, directly related to the event, situation; and the word is a partial sign, correlated with the described event indirectly, due to inclusion in the syntactic structure. The most obvious is the interdependence of lexical and syntactic levels of utterance in analyzing the influence that the choice of predicate has on the choice of syntactic construction. Semantics of the syntactic position has certain limitations on the choice of word [2, p. 218].

These studies show that the use of a certain word as an element of verbal expression of thought always occurs in certain linguistic circumstances. These linguistic circumstances are associated with the conditions for storage of lexical units in human memory (inclusion of words into associative networks) and with the peculiarities of their placement in the context of utterance (effect of contextual functions of motivation of units and removing the ambiguity [5, p. 83]. Language circumstances, on the one hand, require complex procedures for choosing a word and its coordination with other units, and on the other hand, they are the basis for creative use of language units for specific communicative purposes.

Context as a condition of uniqueness of communication shall theoretically coincide with the text as a concrete fragment of communication, which in its turn represents a long and incomplete process, but in certain segments serving as a minimal context not for individual meanings of words and individual sentences, but for the realization of communication goal.

Text and context constitute an inseparable unity, regulated primarily by the epistemology of thinking, realizing in the semantic filling of text the system of language in formal and semantic connections of constituent units (words and phrases). The construction of text is directly dependent on the semantic content of any scale and rather rigid system of continuous context within which the presentation of a topic is carried out, in other words, within the framework of which discourse develops (at the same place).

An essential condition for the disclosure of values of linguistic units shall be considered the context at the level of entire text, and the text is complete communication.

The role of context is most clearly and ultimately determined when translating text from one language to another. The full meaningful correspondence between the translation and the original is achieved only when the condition of transfer of identity of meaning of linguistic units is reached, achieved by preserving the contextual meanings of the entire set of phrases of text [3, p. 160]. Any polysemy of linguistic units, phraseology, realities can be translated not by virtue of some abstract correspondence of individual vocabulary units, but by the discovery of all contextual semantic links of elementary units that form the whole communicative segment [4, p. 199].

Interpretation of isolated phrases and words is impossible in general, and therefore translation itself is impossible, no matter how complete the word-by-word and phrase correspondences were in the original language and translation. Only the context can disclose the meaning of linguistic units, and the context, which extends to the entire text, justifies the rejection from literal translation and allows a variety of ways to fill in the meaning of units [4, p. 201].

The foregoing indicates that contextual thinking, as ability to uncover the meanings of linguistic units through the context, sufficiently manifests with the essential condition of considering the context at the level of entire text, which is complete communication. And for the most complete mastering of foreign vocabulary, it is necessary to pay attention to the fact that difficulties of translation are essentially connected not with the knowledge of language or “poor memory in words” but with the ability to find in language systems those patterns that determine the place of each language unit in the corresponding semantic surrounding of semantic situation of languages of translated originals, i.e. which dictate the only contextual possibility of adequate transmission of the content of text or speech. However, this provision requires additional research and experimental verification.

Speaking of the development of ability to uncover the meanings of linguistic units through context or contextual thinking, we touch the process of understanding the text, which is largely subordinated to the student's psychological activity. And in this respect, attention plays an important role, ensuring the accuracy and depth of perception of the object, as well as the accuracy and depth of its understanding. In psychology, attention is defined as the direction and focus of consciousness on a particular object in the process of one or another activity. The object of attention can be any object or phenomenon of life, including text. Attention ensures accuracy and depth of perception of the text, helps to understand and remember better what was perceived.

The emphasis on perception of words affects the understanding of the text differently depending on belonging to a particular group. If attention is focused on words of the first group, then this has a positive effect on understanding the general content of the text.

If words of the second group are singled out, this disrupts the understanding of text, since there is a concentration of attention on the incomprehensible, and individual words begin to act as a psychological barrier preventing the understanding of entire text. In this regard, it seems appropriate to introduce exercises for reading and understanding foreign texts that contain a certain number of unfamiliar vocabulary. It is necessary to set the task to students to guess the content of text with the presence of a certain number of new words based on the context, thus developing contextual thinking. The focus of attention on the words of the third group acts in two ways on the understanding of text. It depends on the informative value of certain words. So, for example, adjectives mainly serve to communicate the qualities of objects, and their allocation does not contribute to understand the text. While verbs carry a message about actions, states, therefore, when you set them apart, the understanding of general content of the text almost does not suffer.

In addition to attention and perception, there are a number of other psychological properties of a person that determine the process of understanding. So, for example, the ability to hold in memory already read, which is facilitated by the presence of a well-developed memory, is of particular importance.

Increasing the level of students' learning of a foreign language and vocabulary, as a component of it, requires improving the content and methods of their education. To do this, it is necessary to identify and maximize the functional capabilities of students, to identify rational ways in the learning process. A certain role in the solution of these problems can be played by the development of training methods, taking into account certain features of the students' short-term memory.

Short-term memory is understood as a short-term (from a few seconds to several minutes) storage of information necessary to solve any particular task of activity. A broader definition is given by G.V. Repkina, under which the short-term memory means “processes that ensure the storage, preservation and reproduction of information necessary to achieve the goal of a particular action and losing its relevance and feasibility after its implementation” [7, p. 13].

As shown in the studies of G.V. Repkina, short-term memory provides the process of performing a certain action, i.e. remembering and reproducing of information, coming as the action is performed and which is necessary for specific purposes.

A characteristic feature of this form of memory is that it can be easily disturbed by the action of various external stimuli. Any strong impact during the formation of short-term memory can negatively affect the formation of long-term memory and in the future information will either be poorly reproduced or will not be reproduced at all. If, during the formation of short-term memory, such actions are not made, then a long-term memory will be formed on the basis of shortterm memory, which will be fully reproduced as necessary.

When considering the role of memory processes, in particular, memory in the mastering of foreign vocabulary, it is of scientific interest for our study to identify the two-way dependence of characteristics of short-term memory on the structure of activity it serves and the productivity of latter from characteristics of short-term memory. In this regard, it was recognized of great importance the level of formation of operational units of memory [4, p. 209].

Consequently, the abovementioned provisions allow us to recognize the legitimacy of authors' conclusion that the presence of two-sided conditionality of characteristics of short-term memory (embodied in the formed operational units of memory of different levels) and the specific structure of the activity, which it serves, opens the principal possibility of controlling this type of memory in the process of purposeful mastering foreign language and foreign vocabulary as its component. And the main way of management is the organization of activity that will ensure the formation of optimal operational units of memory for this activity [И.А. Зимняя, 1984]. knowledge vocabulary contextual thinking

To master foreign vocabulary, the interaction of short-term and long-term memory is necessary. N.I. Zhinkin believes that in longterm memory are formed grids of phonemes and morphemes on which verbal knowledge and skills are based. In his opinion, the emerging in mind model is immediately filled with material from the morpheme grid, receiving in speech appropriate composition according to the situation.

P.K. Velitchenko believes that the interaction of short-term and long-term memory comes to comparison of information entering into the short-term memory with the relevant information stored in long-term memory.

In this paper, the functional interaction between short-term and long-term memory is understood as a form of interconnection in which any changes in the content of shortterm memory invariably entail corresponding changes in the work of long-term memory. The dynamics of this relationship in the process of mastering foreign language and, in particular, foreign language vocabulary can be traced from the efficiency of transcoding processes that occur, as is known, in shortterm memory and allow access to information in long-term memory [1, p. 38].

At the initial stage of mastering a foreign language, it is necessary to constantly address to long-term memory in order to establish the meaning - intention because of underdevelopment of foreign internal speech and, in fact, comprehension of information only in native language. This is the case when the foreign language complex is not directly connected with the designated image of object, but it is connected with it through the medium of native word. Attempts to directly understand foreign speech are not successful, because, firstly, the foreign language complex is associated with the word of native language, and only the latter excites the first signal system. Likewise unsuccessful are attempts to express the thoughts directly in the foreign language when, at excitation the first signal system, is closed, first of all, the connection with the word of native language, and only from it there is an excitation to the foreign-speaking complex. Performed, in this case, processes of transcoding words into meaning and the meaning into words in short-term memory are evidently accompanied by a tense, repeatedly repeated search of corresponding categories of linguistic order. That is, the extraction at the level of (unrelated) individual concepts in long-term memory (in listening, speaking and reading in the foreign language) and, accordingly, ends with the formation of operational units of memory of lower levels. These operational units of memory differ in information capacity, slow formation speed and the least accuracy of initial invariant [1, p. 76].

At the next stage of mastering the foreign language and vocabulary as its component, the need to address to long-term memory is removed due to the mastering of foreign internal speech, when the connection between the native word and the image of the subject is increasingly weakened and it becomes possible to consistently comprehend the information being processed in both languages. The remaining need to understand the linguistic side of the message can hamper, to some extent, the success of transcoding processes, resulting in the formation of operational units of higher level of memory. Differing by an insignificant increase in capacity, these operational units of memory will be marked by some acceleration of formation and increase in the accuracy of correspondence to the original invariant.

When translating from native language into foreign language, in comparison with translation from foreign language into native language, the investigated interrelation is marked by less lability in accordance with the received lower parameters of capacities, deployment speed and accuracy of operational units of memory. As manifestation of inadequacy of the development of short-term memory in terms of retaining and anticipating of linguistic information, as well as strengthening of control over the correspondence of extracts to intention, which is caused by the limited linguistic experience and, in fact, by the low semantic organization of foreign meanings within cognitive structures in longterm memory, making imperfect the processes of comparison of search information with long-term storage.

All abovementioned components of the mastering foreign language vocabulary effectively develop upon condition that the cognitive activity of students is provided in the educational process of a technical college. Cognitive activity is an active state of personality, which is characterized by the desire for learning, mental stress and manifestation of willful efforts in the process of mastering of knowledge, in our study of foreign vocabulary. Activity or subjectivity is manifested in the ability to be the strategist of one's own activity, to set and adjust goals, to realize motives, to independently build up actions and to assess their conformity to intended purpose. The development of subjectivity of university students is one of the topical and promising tasks of the national higher school. Subjectivity as a condition and quality is a factor for the emergence of a creative personality and is formed in students of higher education institutions in the entire multifaceted spectrum of their educational activities, part of which is the mastering of foreign language and vocabulary as its component, provided that this activity is organized and implemented in the context of modern scientific and pedagogical ideas related to the humanization of educational process [1, p. 115].

For experimental study of acquisition of foreign language vocabulary by students of medical HEI, we have developed the following levels:

1. Low level. Knowledge and skills at this level are determined by the fact that students can understand familiar names, words and simple sentences, can use familiar words in simple phrases of general character, can ask and answer simple questions, related to the immediate sphere of communication.

Cognitive processes are determined by tests on contextual thinking (disclosing the values of lexical units through the context), perception (visual and auditory differential sensitivity), attention (Correction test, Munsterberg test), memory (visual and auditory short-term memory, visual and auditory longterm memory, visual and auditory memorization of words in sentence, semantic, logical and involuntary memorization). These tests have a school of measuring from 0 to 9 points. Cognitive processes at this level range from 0 to 3 points.

Subjectivity is determined by observation. At this level, the student is inactive, does not show interest to assignments, reluctantly participates in collective work.

2. Medium level. Knowledge and skills at this level involve understanding of basic provisions of clearly stated speech corresponding to the standard norms of language on familiar topics, understanding texts that contain the most common vocabulary of general and professionally-oriented nature, ability to combine phrases in a simple order to convey the content of general and special text.

Cognitive processes are determined from 4 to 6 points at the medium level.

At this level, the student readily fulfills assignments, participates more actively in collective work, shows interest in tasks that involve independent work.

3. High level. Knowledge and skills at high level show that the student can read texts and articles containing special vocabulary and touching modern problems, can take an active part in discussions within the familiar context, explaining and confirming their views, can produce detailed descriptions on a wide range problems related to their professional interests.

Cognitive processes at high level have indicators from 7 to 9 points.

At high level, the student actively participates both in practical classes and in independent work, takes the initiative in collective work, carries out the proposed tasks with interest, seeks additional information on the given topic.

Summarizing the abovementioned, it can be noted that:

The content of mastering foreign vocabulary is the system of knowledge and skills in the field of foreign language and foreign vocabulary as its component, mastering of which ensures the mastering of cognitive processes: contextual thinking, attention, perception and memory, formation of subjectivity.

The structure of mastering foreign language vocabulary - combination of its components, namely: knowledge and skills; cognitive processes: contextual thinking, attention, perception, memory; and subjectivity.

Knowledge and skills in the field of foreign language and foreign vocabulary as its component are formed through the development of cognitive processes, such as contextual thinking or the ability to reveal the values of lexical units through the context. With the development of this ability, it should be noted that each language unit has a definite place in corresponding semantic environment of conceptual situation of the language, necessary for a single contextual possibility of conveying the content of text or speech.

Contextual thinking is closely connected with attention, because this mental process provides both the accuracy and depth of perception of the text or speech, and their understanding.

The process of memory (in particular, short-term memory) ensures that the contextual value of lexical units is retained throughout the text or speech and, in the absence of external stimuli, long-term memory is formed on the basis of short-term memory, fully reproduced as necessary.

Components of the mastering of foreign language vocabulary: knowledge, skills, cognitive processes: contextual thinking, processes of memory, attention and perception - are developed with great success if the cognitive activity of students in the educational process of medical HEI is ensured.


1. Alekseeva P.D. Functional interaction of operational and long-term memory when mastering by verbal translation / P.D. Alekseeva. - Minsk, 1992. - 96 p.

2. Arutyunova N.D. The sentence and its meaning / N.D. Arutyunova. - M. : Nauka, 1976. - 384 p.

3. Vygotsky L.S. Thinking and Speech / L.S. Vygotsky // Collected Works in 6 volumes. - M. : Pedagogics, 1982. - T.2.- 361 p.

4. Kolganova S.O. Semantic Violations in the Relationship between the Word and the Context / S.O. Kolganova. - Yekaterinburg, 1976. - 276 p.

5. Kolshansky G.V. Contextual Semantics / G.V. Kolshansky. - M. : Nauka, 1980. -- 151 p.

6. Psycholinguistic studies of the meaning of the word and understanding of the text / Head. Ed. A.A. Zalevskaya and others. - Kalinin : KSU, 1988. - 165 p.

7. Repkina G.V. Investigation of operational memory: Author's abstract / G.V. Repkina. - M., 1967. - 17 p.


This article was written about the problem of the analysis of content, structure and levels of mastering foreign vocabulary. The content of the mastering foreign vocabulary, in our opinion, is a system of knowledge and skills in the field of foreign language and foreign vocabulary as its component, possession of which ensures the development of such cognitive processes as contextual thinking, attention, perception and memory, formation of subjectivity. Thus, the structure of mastering foreign vocabulary, in our understanding, is the totality of its components, namely: knowledge and skills; cognitive processes: contextual thinking, attention, perception, memory; and subjectivity.

Key -words: knowledge and skills, contextual thinking, attention,perception, memory; and subjectivity.

У статті розглянуто проблему аналізу змісту, структури та рівня засвоєння іноземної лексики. Зміст засвоєння іноземної лексики, на наш погляд, являє собою систему знань і навичок у галузі іноземної мови та іноземної лексики як складника, володіння якими забезпечує розвиток таких пізнавальних процесів, як контекстне мислення, увага, сприйняття й пам'ять, формування суб'єктивності. Отже, структура освоєння іноземної лексики в нашому розумінні являє собою сукупність її компонентів, а саме: знань і навичок; когнітивних процесів: контекстного мислення, уваги, сприйняття, пам'яті; і суб'єктивності.

Ключові слова: знання та вміння, контекстне мислення, увага, сприйняття, пам'ять, суб'єктивність.

В статье рассмотрена проблема содержания, структуры и уровней освоения иностранной лексики. На наш взгляд, содержание владения иностранным лексиконом - это система знаний и навыков в области иностранного языка и иностранной лексики как компонента, владение которыми обеспечивает развитие таких когнитивных процессов, как контекстуальное мышление, внимание, восприятие и память, формирование субъективности. Таким образом, структура овладения иностранным лексиконом в нашем понимании является совокупностью ее компонентов, а именно: знаний и навыков; когнитивных процессов: контекстуального мышления, внимания, восприятия, памяти; и субъективности.

Ключевые слова: знания и навыки, контекстуальное мышление, внимание, восприятие, память, субъективность.

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