Let’s teach vocabulary through legendary lessons


New perspectives on vocabulary learning and teaching have shifted away from the conception of vocabulary as merely single words to adopt a more comprehensive approach that includes formulaic sequences. These expressions, defined by Wray (2002) as a string “continuous or discontinuous of words […] that is stored and retrieved whole from memory at the time of use” (p. 7), amount to approximately 52 % of written discourse, according to Erman and Warren (2000). This “pervasiveness” becomes evident in fictional narrative texts such as myths and legends, which additionally share unique grammatical, lexical and stylistic features. The wealthy lexical content that pervades these text types certainly deserves special treatment in the EFL classroom. Both myths and legends offer an array of formulaic expressions that can be explicitly taught not only to enrich learners’ vocabulary, but also to boost their receptive and productive skills. To start with, the audience will be given a brief introduction to what a formulaic sequence is and the benefits that EFL learners can derive from becoming aware of them and using them effectively. Subsequently, they will read an abridged version of a legend for a group of children. After that, they will be presented with a set of pre-reading tasks, which they will have to order considering their linguistic and task complexity. Once their didactic sequences have been discussed, they will be briefly introduced to Nation (2001)’s three processes for learning a lexical item: noticing, retrieval and generative use. Afterwards, they will solve and analyse a series of while-reading tasks aimed at helping EFL learners to both notice a set of selected formulaic sequences and re-use them through more or less guided practice. During their group discussion, they will fill in a checklist through which they will reflect upon the type of task, the context for each task and the possibility for EFL learners to predict the meaning of these chunks, among some other relevant features. Finally, different post-reading tasks will prompt the participants to discuss the possibility for learners to employ the selected formulaic sequences in a new context. We invite participants to genuinely embrace our proposal, discovering in them texts which abound in sequences worth teaching due to the considerable advantages they offer EFL learners.


Universidad Nacional del Comahue. Facultad de Lenguas



Bibliographic Citation

Valcarce, María del Mar, Valls, Carla, & Fernández, Gabriela. (2019). Let’s teach vocabulary through legendary lessons. Ponencia presentada en XVII APIZALS Teachers’ Conference, San Carlos de Bariloche.


Ponencia presentada en XVII APIZALS Teachers’ Conference, San Carlos de Bariloche, 18-19 Octubre 2019.




proyecto J033“Enseñanza y aprendizaje de secuencias formulaicas en estudiantes de ILE (Inglés como Lengua Extranjera) en escuelas primarias”