Lexical Awareness and Pattern Grammar in the EFL Online Classroom: A Focus on Conversational Native-like Fluency for Upper-Intermediate Learners of English
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One of the most challenging aspects of teaching English as a foreign language is effective instruction of lexical items and their associated patterns in English grammar. As single units of meaning embodied in a multi-word phrase, lexical items often function in an unintuitive, complex manner that is difficult for non-native speakers to master. Nevertheless, lexical items and the patterns they form are essential to achieving language fluency, particularly in spoken English. For example, while a student may understand the concept of the moon and the meaning of the word over, the lexical phrase over the moon may remain beyond his or her grasp. The student may have difficulty understanding how the known vocabulary relates to the concept of joy as well as the phrase’s inability to be adapted to over the sun. In such a scenario, neither students’ vocabulary knowledge nor their understanding of relative concepts will help them to understand the phrase’s meaning. English as a Foreign Language (EFL) scholars such as Willis, Nattinger and DeCarrico, and Lewis have each offered unique definitions of lexical items as well as innovative strategies for teaching the types of language represented by these phrases and the patterns behind them. This paper examines these scholars’ diverse and innovative teaching methods and proposes my own approach to teaching lexical items and pattern grammar based on combining these methods in a complementary manner. I present two unit plans containing three lessons, each employing various strategies from extant EFL literature. The unit plans support the development of English-language fluency by adapting these strategies into the lessons designed for upper-intermediate to advanced adult online EFL learners. I discuss the implementation of these lessons and offer suggestions for the wider adoption of these adaptive strategies in diverse language classrooms.