The need for theorising in vocabulary and ESP - Future directions and conclusion

Vocabulary and English for Specific Purposes Research - Averil Coxhead 2018

The need for theorising in vocabulary and ESP
Future directions and conclusion

Schmitt (2010) identifies theory as a gap in vocabulary research in terms of acquisition. He calls this gap, ’the Holy Grail of vocabulary studies’ (p. 36) and attributes the gap to the complex and varied nature of acquisition. Granger (1998) finds the same gap in phraseological studies and McNamara (2015) focuses on this gap in Applied Linguistics as a field. While this volume is not focussed on vocabulary acquisition per se, it has hopefully shown, that there are many and varied ways to investigate specialised vocabulary in ESP, for example through identifying this vocabulary in different contexts, for different purposes, and in different ways, including single words and multi-word units using written, spoken and multi-media data. We can research the teaching and learning of specialised vocabulary in classrooms as well as outside classrooms and online, for example, through experimental or qualitative or a mix of approaches. As Schmitt (2010) suggests in general vocabulary studies, through specialised accumulation of studies and data, we can build our understandings and theory of how specialised vocabulary is acquired.

Chapter 9 identified two frameworks in vocabulary which have been developed from research from several fields of study, including Educational Psychology, such as retrieval, noticing and avoiding interference (see Nation, 2013) and Applied Linguistics. One framework is Nation’s (2007) Four Strands (meaning-focused input, meaning-focused output, language-focused learning and fluency) and the other is Hulstijn and Laufer’s (2001) Involvement Load Hypothesis (with its core elements of need, search and evaluate). These frameworks are helpful for identifying elements or factors that might affect vocabulary acquisition in some way. They are also helpful for analysing pedagogical tasks, classroom language learning and textbooks, for example. These frameworks are an important part of the task of building our understanding of theory in vocabulary in ESP.