Teaching vocabulary from the point of view of the mental lexicon with examples from Spanish vocabulary Marjana Šifrar Kalan
Summary: This paper presents vocabulary learning and teaching from the point of view of the organization of the mental lexicon in first and foreign language. Vocabulary is not stored in the mental lexicon at random but associatively; it is mainly based on semantic-encyclopedic, phonological, and form associations. Thus, this organization has to be taken into account in the classroom. This paper presents continuation theories about word associations and semantic prototypes. Conclusions and assumptions about the organization of the mental lexicon in foreign language are reached on the basis of research of associations in Spanish carried out with 100 Slovenian high-school students and 100 university students. The results demonstrated that more associations are based on meaning than on form, that words are most commonly connected in coordinate pairs (i.e., salt – pepper), that more proficient speakers make a shift from syntagmatic to paradigmatic associations and have a more organized mental lexicon, and, finally, that semantic prototypes are very often universal. The universality of semantic prototypes favors cross-curricular teaching practice. The study also confirmed that foreign language classes should regularly include teaching vocabulary in a rich semantic context, which includes interdependency with other words and word groupings based on different criteria, and that the inclusion of groupings from meaning to form based, grammatical, and personal are very effective for memorizing vocabulary.