critical evaluation of the lexical syllabus
Critical Evaluation of the Lexical Syllabus | Pinkie | October 2nd, 2001
I've been reading Willis's fascinating and oft-recommended "The Lexical Syllabus". Relating to Danyal's query of a while back, one thing Willis says is that it's probably much more sensible for the student to be able to look up "which" or "that" or "who" in the grammar section, rather than "relative clauses".
Anyway, my question ...does anybody know of a book or article that reviews how lexical syllabus design has worked out in practice? I mean, it's getting on 15 years since the (radically lexical) Collins COBUILD English Course came out in 1988. Are there any published post-mortems, or critiques, or discussions of the extent to which lexical approaches have been incorporated into other major textbooks. Anybody?
Another question, bit of a long shot I know: has anyone used WordSmith Tools (tool WordList, function MatchList) and got the error message "List index out of bounds"? Know what it means and how to resolve it?
Re: critical evaluations | Colin | October 2nd, 2001
Hi Pinkie and others...
I don't know if you'd call it 'major', and Steve Mann'll probably throw me off the list for mentioning it, but Michael Lewis's books from LTP overtly claim to use a lexical approach (The Lexical Approach and Implementing The Lexical Approach). They are not exactly what I would call critical or argued from an academic viewpoint but they are certainly worth a read.
You might find it useful to look at "Teaching and Language Corpora", a series of papers from Lancaster's 1994 TALC conference. Published by Longman, Edited by Anne Wichmann, Steven Fligelstone, Tony McEnery and Gerry Knowles 1997. It's not specifically lexical but does suggest some of the potential uses of corporal punishment, oops, corpora in the classroom.
There may be some stuff lying around on Birmingham University's website too, but I haven't looked.
Re: critical evaluations | Mary Lynn | October 2nd, 2001
I had a run through the ELT Journal CD-ROM, searching by 'lexical syllabus' and 'lexical approach'. Nothing specifically related to your query, but it did throw up an article by Pinkie Cook, 'The uses of reality: a reply to Ronald Carter', in ELTJ 52/1 (January 1998), which is a critique of what he calls the 'strong' corpus approach to pedagogy (i.e. treating corpus data as the only 'truth' about language). It contained some interesting points, and was written in response to Carter's article, 'Orders of Reality: CANCODE, communication and culture', in the same issue of ELTJ. And, coincidentally, an article by Peter Robinson, 'A rich view of lexical competence' (ELTJ 43/4 1989), which I thought might be of interest to you (?), as it discusses classroom uses of 'general' lexis in the definition/explanation of technical or specialised lexis.
I'd be interested to know about any publications you find that address your query. It will be interesting (and surprising) if there are no overall evaluations - a gap for you to fill?
Re: critical evaluations | Pinkie | October 3rd, 2001
Hi Mary Lynn and Colin:
Many thanks, all very useful and to-the-point, as ever.
It will be interesting (and surprising) if there are no overall evaluations - a gap for you to fill?
No, too general for me really. Still, I agree it would be surprising. I'll see whether Jane Willis knows of anything. Surely lexical approaches must be entering or have entered the mainstream? But they're scarcely mentioned in the basic CSD texts. Anyway...