ECSC Students Looking at Notes

An Example of a Multi-Words Vocabulary Lesson

Here’s how ECSC students get trained in listening, speaking, and English conversation.

Before we get to an example of a potential vocabulary lesson at ECSC, let’s look at the simple concept of “chunks” of language.

First of all, ECSC does things differently from other English language centers and schools in Bangkok. We make a distinction between “learning” English and “acquiring” it:

Learning occurs when something is remembered, to be consciously recalled in the future, as you would do when attempting to build a bicycle.

Acquiring occurs when something is rehearsed, to be subconsciously recalled in the future, as you would do when attempting to ride a bicycle.

Speaking English is like riding a bicycle!

In our opinion, the concept of “chunks” of language – pre-assembled, multiple-word vocabulary items from which we derive our term “multi-words” – is fundamental to acquisition.

Chunks, or multi-words as we call them, are vocabulary that can be learned just like individual words such as “house” and “happy” and “help” and “hexagon.” But, instead of being given lists of individual words to memorize, ECSC students learn collocations, fixed expressions, phrasal verbs, idioms, and even entire sentences – all of which contain more than one word and are also easy to memorize.

This approach presents an advantage over not only single-word vocabulary teaching, but over traditional grammar-focused methods. Our students learn multi-words in realistic contexts, ensuring they understand when (situation), why (function/purpose), and how (tone) to use them.

It is a more efficient and effective way of training non-native English speakers to sound like native English speakers, as it reflects the authentic flow of communication. This in turn enables them to produce questions and answers without first translating from their native language or building sentences in their mind word by word.

So what does this training look like in the classroom?

We mentioned collocations, fixed expressions, phrasal verbs, and idioms (you can see clear examples of these terms on the ECSC homepage), so let’s take a look at a particular fixed expression and imagine it being taught in a classroom setting.

If your trainer were so inclined, they could take note of Merriam Webster dictionary’s eight different definitions for the verb to see, focusing on meaning #8: imagining something by forming a mental picture.

They could use that meaning as a catalyst for introducing a common English multi-word in a realistic context (that is, in a realistic situation for a realistic function/purpose). They could present a little story to do this:

In a casual chat over FaceTime between friends, Person A is being told by Person B about Person C’s recent kindness/generosity (เกรงใจ) towards Person D. In this story, Person A would like to communicate to Person B that they can imagine Person C behaving in that way towards Person D.

So, Person A says the multi-word:

“I could see that.”

What your trainer has done here is highlight one meaning of the single-word vocabulary item “see” (to imagine something is possible) to introduce the four-syllable multi-word vocabulary item “I could see that.”

This is a valuable bit of vocabulary: We can say “I could see that” whenever we want to show that we can imagine or believe something to be true. I say it often.

Please notice that ECSC’s default mode is to avoid providing structural analyses like Subject + modal verb + V1, etc., before introducing “I could see that.” This is because the entirety of the multi-word is what’s important (vocabulary), not the individual components (grammar).

Of course, if a student is interested in a multi-word’s inherent grammar, their trainer will be more than happy to discuss it. We may be opposed to teaching grammar as the basis for learning language, but we are prepared to do so with inquisitive learners.

The next stage of your lesson could be where your trainer uses other meanings of to see as catalysts for introducing other common English multi-words, perhaps ones which also include the word “that”:

  1. “Could I see that?” (to notice with one’s eyes)
  2. “That’s how I see it.” (to feel or have an awareness of) And, ones which don’t include “that”:
  3. See what I mean?” (to realize or come to an awareness of)
  4. “I see your point.” (to know or have a clear awareness of)

At this stage of the lesson, your trainer could introduce different tenses and negative forms of the new multi-words (where applicable):

Foundation of lesson: to see
Initial multi-word: “I could see that.”

As in the case of the initial multi-word, “I could see that,” your trainer would present the past tense and negative forms of the additional multi-words in realistic situations (when to use them) for realistic functions (why to use them).

This is an important aspect of your training: It is much easier for you to truly acquire English when you learn it in relevant contexts, not just in lists.

So we’ve talked about the importance of when (situation) and why (function/purpose), but what about how (tone)?

Here, your trainer could revisit the initial multi-word in this case, “I could see that,” and show you how Person A could say it more strongly (i.e., in a way that indicates Person A really believes that Person C could behave so generously towards Person D).

One way your trainer might do this is by adding an adverb and a bit of attitude through the use of collocation and a rising intonation…

Now, Person A says the multi-word:

“I could totally see that!” (TOE·​tal·​ly).

Next, your trainer could show you how to combine multi-words to create longer sentences with greater meaning. They could introduce an entirely new multi-word, “He’s a nice guy,” and again build upon it through the use of collocation and enthusiastic intonation

“I could totally see that. He’s a really nice guy!” (REAL·​ly).

The result is two multi-words combined – one of seven syllables, one of six syllables – that you can take away from your training session with an understanding of when, why, and how to say them.

Ultimately, had your trainer conducted your training session in this manner – built on a foundation of to see – you would have learned the following:

  1. Several multi-words derived from meanings of to see
  2. Various tenses and negative forms of those multi-words
  3. How to strengthen the tone (“I could TOE·​tal·​ly see that.”)
  4. A new multi-word about a one’s character (“He’s a nice guy.”)
  5. How to strengthen the tone (“He’s a REAL·​ly nice guy.”)
  6. A combination of multi-words (“I could totally see that. He’s a really nice guy!”)

For more examples of collocations, fixed expressions, phrasal verbs, idioms, please visit the ECSC homepage and listen to the audio clips of Business English Multi-Words.

To learn more about multi-words and how they can help you speak English more clearly and confidently, contact ECSC today. You can reach us on Line or at 064-934-5284.

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