Mastering the vocabulary of a foreign language is one of the most daunting
tasks that language learners face. The immensity of the task is underscored
by the realisation that it is not only single words but also numerous
standardised phrases (idioms, collocations, etc.) that need to be acquired.
There is thus a clear need for instructional methods that help learners
tackle this task, and yet few proposals for vocabulary instruction have so
far gone beyond techniques for rote-learning and familiar means of
promoting of noticing. The reason for this is that vocabulary and
phraseology have long been assumed arbitrary.
The volume offers a long-overdue alternative by exploring and exploiting
the presence of linguistic 'motivation' - or, systematic non-arbitrariness
- in the lexicon. The first half of the volume reports ample empirical
evidence of the pedagogical effectiveness of presenting vocabulary to
learners as non-arbitrary. The data reported indicate that the proposed
instructional methods can benefit when both the nature of the target lexis
and the basic cognitive orientations of particular learners are taken into
account. The first half of the book mostly targets lexis that has already
attracted a fair amount of attention from Cognitive Linguists in the past
(e.g. phrasal verbs and figurative idioms). The second half broadens the
scope considerably by revealing the non-arbitrariness of diverse other
lexical patterns, including collocations and word partnerships generally.
This is achieved by recognising some long-neglected dimensions of
linguistic motivation - etymological and phonological motivation, in
particular. Concrete suggestions are made for putting the non-arbitrary
nature of words and phrases to good use in instructed language learning.
The volume is therefore of interest not only to applied linguists and
researchers in Second Language Acquisition/Foreign Language Teaching, but
also to second and foreign language teaching professionals.