Средний человек

Кто он — среднестатистический человек? Он не слишком-то интересный, ординарный, совсем обыкновенный. Его даже можно назвать безликим — но не безымянным. В каждой стране есть своё собственное имя для типичного парня, который может не обладать яркими качествами, но по-прежнему остаётся «своим». У нас это Вася Пупкин, как же зовут Васю Пупкина в других странах?

  1. Германия: Отто Нормалвербраухер (Otto Normalverbraucher)

Отто «Обычный потребитель» или «Обыватель».

  1. Китай: Чжан Сань (Zhang San)

Переводится как Чжан Третий. Иногда появляется в компании с Ли Си (Li Si) (Ли Четвёртым) и Ваном Ву (Wang Wu) (Ваном Пятым).

  1. Дания: Мортен Менигманд (Morten Menigmand)

Мортен Обыватель.

  1. Австралия: Фред Нёрк (Fred Nurk)

Фред-середнячок. А что, нормально имя звучит.

  1. США: Обычный Джо (Average Joe), Джон Доу (John Doe)

Первый вариант в комментарии не нуждается, а второй часто можно встретить в фильмах и сериалах про американских полицейских.

  1. Финляндия: Матти Мейкалайнен (Matti Meikäläinen)

«Мейкалайнен» похоже на обыкновенную финскую фамилию, но это слово также означает «один из нас».

  1. Швеция: Медельсвенссон (Medelsvensson)

Просто средний швед.

  1. Франция: Месьё Ту-ль-Мон (Monsieur Tout Le Monde)

Господин Обыватель. Иногда ещё говорят — Жан Дюпон (Jean Dupont).

  1. Великобритания и Новая Зеландия: Джо Блоггс (Joe Bloggs)

Просто среднестатистический парень. Иногда не Джо, а Фред (Fred).

  1. Италия: Марио Росси (Mario Rossi)

В Италии просто используют распространённое имя.

  1. Латинская Америка: Хуан Перес (Juan Perez)

Так называют среднего человека в испаноязычных странах Центральной и Южной Америки.


How do students learn vocabulary?

“How can I remember it all?”

“I write down the words but never remember them”

How often have you heard this? A hundred, a thousand, tens of thousands of times? What do you say to your students? What’s the answer?

Well, the fact is, there isn’t one. There are, however, a few common sense principles that we can use. The most obvious, of course, is “If you don’t write something down, you’re more likely to forget it in the long-term”. So to those students who refuse to write anything down, as teachers we should explain (sometimes forcefully if we need to) that they are making life much more difficult for themselves, and will be adding months and years to the process of achieving the level that they wish.

There is, however, a point to be made here, isn’t there? Even those students who write everything down struggle to remember the words you wanted to teach in class. So clearly, just writing down is not enough. We should consider many different factors as teachers when we ‘teach’ vocabulary.

The first, and perhaps the most poignant is what does it mean to ‘know’ a word? We should consider:

  1. The meaning
  2. Its context
  3. Register
  4. Its pronunciation
  5. Is it passive or active?
  6. Spelling
  7. It’s co-text (collocations and appearances in phrases)

This list is simply to exhaustive to discuss in detail here, however what we will look at is some good general principles we can apply to the classroom and some theory regarding how words are stored.

Regarding the list above, and the ‘4 skills’, which are unfortunately considered separate by many, there is a good principle of “hear, read, speak, write” that can be applied to English (furthered by the fact that English spelling has very little bearing on the pronunciation of an item).  If we refer to the distinction between ‘language learning’ (conscious) and language acquisition (unconscious), many pieces of research have highlighted the primacy of listening as input. The reason for this is that it is not only what is listened to that influences the unconscious acquisitional process, but also what is heard. Some experiments have even suggested that the focus on student output is given undue emphasis, and suggest that language can be learnt with a greater emphasis on input, particularly at early stages. Doesn’t that fly in the face of much of what is sermonized by the vast majority of Communicative Language Teaching dogmatists! As suggested by Krashen’s input model, carefully selected reading and listening input (at a level just above the students full comprehension) can be used to not only assist acquisition, but build confidence and give learners the opportunity to ‘manage’ their language. So, a useful order:

  1. Hear – Through a listening activity and drilling
  2. Read – See the text written in context.
  3. Write – Record the vocabulary.

5 guiding principles of vocabulary learning

  1. The principle of cognitive depth

“The more one manipulates, thinks about, and uses mental information, the more likely it is that one will retain that information. In the case of vocabulary, the more one engages with a word (deeper processing), the more likely the word will be remembered for later use” (Schmitt 2000: 120)

This might seem like common sense, but it is surprising how much words are cast aside in some language learning classrooms and coursebooks.

So what does this mean? Well, anything! It can be sorting, identifying, classifying, matching etc. Try to ensure your activities involve some kind of mental process, rather than just repeat and record.

  1. The principle of associations

“The human lexicon is believed to be a network of associations, a web-like structure of interconnected links. When students are asked to manipulate words, relate them to other words and to their own experiences, and then to justify their choices, these word associations are reinforced” (Sökmen 1997: 241-2).

This really needs little explanation. Words with associations are remembered better. This argument suggests a good amount of categorizing and ordering in terms of hyponyms is a successful approach to aiding recall and acquisition.

  1. The principle of Multiple Encounters

“Due to the incremental nature of vocabulary acquisition, repeated exposures are necessary to consolidate a new word in the learner’s mind” (Schmitt & Carter 2000: 4)

Again, another seemingly common sense proposition, but one that I feel is most ignored by teachers. Language learning is a slow, sometimes frustrating process, and most importantly not linear in any sense! As such, we should be preparing lessons that not only introduce new vocabulary but those that give the learners the chance to meet familiar words again, in new contexts and forms. This principle also suggests that testing, especially in an informal manner is of great importance.

  1. The principle of Re-Contextualisation

“When words are met in reading and listening or used in speaking and writing, the generativeness of the context will influence learning. That is, if the words occur in new sentence contexts in the reading text, learning will be helped. Similarly, having to use the word to say new things will add to learning”  (Nation 2001: 80).

The importance of this is clear, having students use vocabulary items in different context (carefully chosen by the teacher, of course) will aid acquisition. Metaphor here could play an important role. For example, is there a metaphor between gambling and diplomacy?

Do you think there will be a war?

We can’t risk war.

The stakes are too high.

There’s too much to lose.

They’re just bluffing

We’ve got a weak hand.

  1. The principle of Retrieval

“The act of successfully recalling an item increases the chance that the item will be remembered. It appears that the retrieval route to that item is in some way strengthened by being successfully used” (Baddeley 1997: 112).

I’ve met some teachers who seem to get carried away with the idea that tasks should be challenging. Of course, they should be challenging, but not too difficult! We do want the students to recall these words, don’t we? We shouldn’t be putting obstacles in their way to successful completion of a task. I think this is key here. By preparing activities that aren’t very difficult, but in some way challenging (some kind of memory game maybe?), we will help item retrieval. Retrieval = further retrieval.

Can you think of any tasks that could be used according to each of these five principles?


A final word about these principles. Let us remember that as teachers it is our responsibility to provide challenging and engaging tasks that help the students on their long journey. This, however, should not detract from student responsibility. The student also has a responsibility to write things down, to do homework, and to practice English regularly.

The Byrds — Turn! Turn! Turn! — song & exercises

«Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There Is a Season)» — often abbreviated to «Turn! Turn! Turn!» — is a song written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s. The lyrics, except for the title which is repeated throughout the song, and the final verse of the song, are adapted word-for-word from Chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes, set to music and recorded in 1962. The song was originally released as «To Everything There Is a Season» on The Limeliters‘ album Folk Matinee and then some months later on Seeger’s ownThe Bitter and the Sweet.

Below are a few exercises connected with this song.

  1. Listen to the song. Do you like it? What do you think is the style of the song?
  2. Before you listen again, read the lyrics (you will fill in the gaps later). Do you know what the words in bold mean? You may check yourself with the help of an online dictionary, for example, Cambridge Learner Dictionary.

To everything — turn, turn, turn
There is a season — turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to be ____, a time to die
A time to _____, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to _____, a time to weep

To everything — turn, turn, turn
There is a season — turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to build _____, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together

To everything — turn, turn, turn
There is a season — turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time of love, a time of _____
A time of war, a time of _____
A time you _____ embrace
A time to refrain from embracing

To everything — turn, turn, turn
There is a season — turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to gain, a time to _____
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late!

  1. Now listen to the song again and fill in the gaps (you can find the complete lyrics here).
  2. Match the words on the right with prepositions and adverbs they are used with on the left.
    • Purpose
    • Cast
    • Gather
    • Refrain
    • Gain
    • Sew
    • Of
    • About
    • On
    • For
    • Away
    • Together
    • From
    • To
    • By
    • Now fill in the gaps in these sentences:The Economist must refrain ________ doing this dirty work like British colonialists. Please refrain ____________ smoking in this area.
      When the Apple iPad was released, many believed there was no purpose ______________ the gadget. Why did people need a huge device that was identical to their mobile phone? It didn’t even make phone calls!
      The American economy saw a gain _____________ 14 cents last week and 20 cents a week before that, a positive for Mr Obama.
      I try to cast ________ such thoughts, but still from time to time I get an impression that we shouldn’t do this job.
      She will use scraps of material and sew them ________ into different things.
      They will gather ________ in the open air, singing, dancing, and telling stories.Select the following black part to see the answers: from / from / for / of / away / together / together
    • Write your own sentences with these word combinations.
  3. Answer the questions:
    What is the main idea behind the song? Do you agree with it?
    Do you know any other songs that carry the same message? Do you like any of them?
    Can the message of this song be applied to the current situation in the world?
  4. Now imagine you are taking part in the president elections in your country. Write 3-5 election campaign promises using «(It’s) time to …» stucture, e.g. now is a time to crack down on crime.

If you want to improve your English, you can also have both online and offline lessons in Accent Language Center.

Some and any

We tend to think that we use some in positive sentences and any in negative sentences and in questions, right? Well, that’s not strictly correct. This “rule” is only the most common use of “some” and “any”.

Look at these sentences, which are correct?

I like some newspapers

I don’t like some newspapers

I like any newspapers

I don’t like any newspapers

That’s right, all of them! So what do “some” and “any” really mean? Well the difference is meaning, not grammar.

Let’s take our sentences about the newspapers. Let’s imagine that this chart represents all of the newspapers in the world.

blue circle

The newspapers I like are in blue

I like any newspaper
I like any newspaper
I like some newspapers
I like some newspapers
I don't like some newspapers
I don’t like some newspapers
I don't like any newspapers
I don’t like any newspapers

So, we can see that some divides something into parts, but any is about all or none.

Аукцион ошибок

Цель: работа над ошибками

Необходимые материалы: типичные ошибки группы или типичные для текущего уровня; напечатанные деньги.

Уровень: любой

Процедура:  Каждому студенту выдаётся определённая сумма импровизированных денег. Затем преподаватель зачитывает предложение с ошибкой и называет её минимальную стоимость, а каждый из участников аукциона может увеличивать её настолько, насколько считает нужным. Предложивший наивысшую цену получает право найти ошибку и назвать правильный вариант. Если его версия и в самом деле оказывается верной, он сохраняет свои деньги и получает в свою «собственность» исправленную им ошибку. В противном случае, когда студент не может назвать действительно правильный вариант, он теряет свои деньги. Побеждает тот, кто смог «купить» наибольшее число ошибок.

Игру можно проводить в групповом формате, выдавая одну сумму на группу студентов и давая им возможность обсудить варианты исправления предложений с партнёрами по команде.

Relay Game

Цель: отработка лексических и грамматических конструкций.

Необходимые материалы: не требуются.

Уровень: любой

Подготовка: преподаватель делит доску на две части и на обеих пишет целевую конструкцию, к примеру, ________ allow(s) us to ________, показывает, что студентам будет необходимо заполнить пропуски в предложении, чтобы получилось что-то вроде: Internet allows us to communicate quickly. После этого класс делится на две команды, которые приглашаются к доске. Участники команд выстраиваются в линию, первый студент, написав свой вариант, передаёт маркер назад следующим товарищам. Побеждает та команда, которая первой напишет 10 предложений. Затем преподаватель может обратить внимание студентов на примеры удачного или не совсем удачного использования словосочетаний и грамматических правил.

В случае индивидуальных занятий процедура может оставаться такой же, только без элемента соревновательности.

Square Game

Цель: повторение изученной лексики.

Необходимые материалы: доска, текст с пронумерованными словами.

Уровень: любой

Подготовка: преподаватель выбирает текст длиной в несколько предложений — может быть, уже хорошо знакомый группе с предыдущих занятий — и нумерует слова в нём, например:




















have paddle,

























Во время занятия преподаватель рисует такую же, но пустую нумерованную таблицу на доске:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

преподаватель делит студентов на две группы, затем объявляет, что сейчас он дважды прочтёт короткий текст, во время чтения студентам не нужно ничего не записывать, а достаточно просто расслабиться и слушать (или же, в зависимости от группы, можно наоборот изначально попросить студентов запомнить как можно больше). После того, как класс дважды прослушал текст, преподаватель предлагает студентам вспомнить как можно больше слов, работая в группах. Когда обсуждение завершено, преподаватель поочерёдно просит каждую группу назвать по одному слову из текста и вписывает их в соответствующие им по номерам ячейки таблицы на доске.
Восстановление предложений таким образом способствует направлению внимания учащихся не только на отдельные слова, но и неизбежно на словосочетания: студент может вспомнить слово side и затем будет пытаться понять, какое именно слово шло рядом с ним и т.д.

The Lexical Approach – What is it?

In 1993, Michael Lewis published a seminal piece of work “The Lexical approach” that underlined the need for change in (English) Language teaching. While some of his assertions were adopted and can be found in many of the leading coursebooks used in ELT today, the dominance of grammar-led language teaching has continued and the full impact of The Lexical Approach has not been felt. There are a variety of reasons for this, ranging from simple problems that simply not many teachers know about this approach, to the more political problems of what makes good-value ELT coursebooks and what meets students’ expectations of the language.  A significant proportion of research in Second Language Acquisition supports many of the central tenets of the Lexical approach, of which we will discuss in this essay. The lexical approach and teaching lexically is a huge topic that can in no way be fully discussed in this short essay. However, further posts will discuss some of these principles in more detail and further reading is suggested at the end of this post.

So what is the lexical approach?

The mantra, if you like, of the lexical approach is simple:

«language consists of grammaticalized lexis not lexicalized grammar”

In other words, the most important aspect of a language is not its grammatical system, but its lexical organism. In “The Lexical Approach”, Lewis outlined that not only is vocabulary teaching at present woefully inadequate, but also we have not been concentrating on the aspects of lexis we should be.

Lewis suggested that Lexis can be broken down into 4 (rough)categories:

  • Words: By far the biggest category e.g. Bicycle. However, this category, surprisingly, is not the most important.
  • Polywords : Words that do not change – ever. E.g., “By the way”, “Cup of tea”, “Overdone”.
  • Institutionalized phrases: They never change, but they also have a different meaning from what they mean, e.g. “What a buzz!” “I see what you mean, but…”, “That’s all very well”.
  • Collocations: Word partners, often found in close proximity, e.g. “close proximity”, “do homework”, “agree to, negotiate, carry out — A contract”
  • Fixed and Semi-fixed expression: Possibly the most important category these sometimes change a little or always remain the same. “I’ll see you soon”, “Just because I’m a _____________ doesn’t mean I can’t __________________”.

With regards to collocation, there is no logical reason for these. It could easily be “make your homework”, however it is not. The choice here is arbitrary and does not follow a particular rule.

Can you think of some collocations that pair with the following words?

  • Imagination
  • Guess
  • Area
  • Presentation

So why are these things important?

Well, we simply do not store these relatively common phrases in our minds in small pieces. We store them as chunks. These chunks give us increased ability to speak fluently.

Imagine that you have been given a task to build a model airplane. Which of these sets would you prefer?

  • In thousands of tiny pieces with no instructions?


  • In thousands of pieces with a picture as an example of what the finished plane should look like.


  • A set where the parts are separate, but the big parts are already put together for you – complete with instructions, so you can see what the plane should look like.


If you gave these to three groups of people, who do you think would finish first? Of course, the answer is the first group. After the first group has completed it, they will have a good idea of how the big pieces are constructed by looking at it. They have  a better view of the overall plane. This metaphor also works with language. As teachers, we should be aiming to give students as much “big language” as possible, especially in the early stages of learning and assisting them in noticing how the language is put together afterwards.

Mistakes – Always grammar?

In 1972, the British Linguist David Wilkins commented “while without grammar little can be conveyed, without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed”. This is awakening. When a non-native speaker produces a grammar mistake, it causes few problems for native speakers of the language; however, those with vocabulary problems are a real source of misunderstanding.

Main principles and classroom implications of the lexical approach

  • As language consists of grammaticalised lexis, and not lexicalized grammar, we should focus on giving students chunks of language with real communicative functions at all levels of learning. Phrases like “Have you been to______________?” “I’m thinking of +ing”, “Could you pass the _____________, please?” Can be taught even at the lowest levels. Students will gain grammatical accuracy later in their language learning and much of their language learning will be derived from their knowledge of these chunks.
  • Successful language is a wider concept than accurate language. As teachers, we should ficus more on student expressing meaning successfully rather than accurately.
  • Grammatical error is natural to the learning process. Grammar errors that do not impede communication should be given less focus when we correct our students.
  • Listening has enhanced status. Listening is an important part of the learning process.
  • Language should be recycled over and over. Teachers should drop phrases like “we have done the present perfect” from their vocabulary. Only through meeting vocabulary items and grammatical structures often will students master them.
  • Teacher talking time is useful only when it is comprehensible and relevant. However, teacher-talking time is one way for student to get lots of input.
  • Teachers should help students notice grammar and vocabulary patterns.
  • Lexis should form the organizing principle of a course.
  • Students should be taught phrases and expression along with collocations without grammatical analysis, especially at lower levels.

Further reading

  • Baigent, Maggie (1999). Teaching in chunks: integrating a lexical approach. Modern English Teacher 8(2):51-54.
  • Lewis, Michael (1993), The Lexical Approach, Hove: Language Teaching Publications.
  • Lewis, Michael (1996). Implications of a lexical view of language. In Challenge And Change In Language Teaching, Jane Willis and Dave Willis (eds.). Oxford: Heinemann.
  • Lewis, Michael (1997). Implementing the Lexical Approach: Putting Theory Into Practice. Hove: Language Teaching Publications.
  • Lewis, Michael (2000). Language in the lexical approach. In Teaching Collocation: Further Developments In The Lexical Approach, Michael Lewis (ed.), 126-154. Hove: Language Teaching Publications.
  • Nattinger, James R. and DeCarrico Jeanette S. (1992). Lexical Phrases and Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Pawley, Andrew and Syder, Frances Hodgetts. (1983). Two puzzles for linguistic theory: native like selection and native like fluency. In Language And Communication,JackC.RichardsandRichard W. Schmidt (eds.), 191-225. London: Longman.
  • Thornbury, Scott (1997). Reformulation and reconstruction: tasks that promote ‘noticing’. ELT Journal 51(4): 326-334.
  • Thornbury, Scott (1998). The Lexical Approach: a journey without maps? Modern English Teacher 7(4): 7-13.
  • Willis, Dave (1990). The Lexical Syllabus: A New Approach To Language Learning. London: Collins ELT.
  • Woolard, George (2000). Collocation- encouraging learner independence. In Teaching Collocation: Further Developments In The Lexical Approach, Michael Lewis (ed.), 28-46. Hove: Language Teaching Publications.

Using horizontal and vertical approaches to promote vocabulary learning

Language does not occur in a vacuum. Even the most seemingly obvious sentence does not reveal its full meaning when it stands alone, for example, “my mother is 45 years old” is ambiguous unless it is surrounded by context and co-text.

  • Why is the speaker saying this? (Are they being sarcastic, giving information, showing outrage?)
  • To whom?
  • How are they saying it?

So why do so many coursebooks, resource books and grammar guides present language in such a way? This does not help students learn the language or participate in discourse. In this post, we will explore some of the ways in which teachers can encourage their students to exploit the material provided by both coursebooks and self-study material by highlighting vertical and horizontal lexis.

We’ve all done it. We’ve taken a grammar or vocabulary exercise with sentences like in the picture below, had students work in pairs, elicited the answers and maybe wrote them up on the board. The students have corrected their mistakes and then we’ve moved on to the next part of the lesson. The trouble is, we are instilling students with a dangerous expectation. Namely, that by completing a seemingly endless number of tasks such as these, our students will go out into the real world and be able to participate in conversations in a variety of situations. But as was mentioned before, language doesn’t appear alone. Spoken language occurs as part of an utterance, which in turn, is part of discourse.

When introducing new lexis, what is it that students need to have clarified for them?

Usually, it will be meaning. And by meaning we can derive context and co-text (the surrounding language with which a word or phrase typically occurs). One of the teacher’s greatest responsibilities in the classroom is to present language not only in its typical meaning but also in its context and how it is used alongside other pieces of language. Doing this helps prime* students for other pieces of lexis in the future.

horizontal and vertical

Take, for example, the second line of our exercise in the picture.

  1. I had a pleasant surprise when I received my wages. I had a bonus of £100

Now, if we think horizontally about this kind of sentence, we think about what the speaker might’ve said before or after this sentence. So after checking in class, I’d say something like:

“Right, good. Now. What do you think the speaker might have said before or after he said this?”

You might have prepared some ideas earlier, or let the students’ imagination run wild. Something like this springs to mind.

“I’ve had a really good day today”. (before)

“I might go shopping/treat myself this evening” (after)

If you’re going to concentrate vertically (where we think about what the person you are speaking to might say), you might get something like:

“Lucky you!”

“Oh that’s nice, how are you going to spend it?”

To have students engage more with this kind of task, you could write your suggestions on the board as a gap fill and paraphrase their meaning for students to guess.

“ I might t____________ myself this evening”.

“Any ideas? It’s when you want to do something nice for yourself, to reward yourself, like, I worked really hard on my project so I ________________ myself to a night out.

You can adapt this for almost any vocabulary exercise (particularly those which seem only to focus on nouns).  This helps you take the attention away from the book, consolidate meaning of the words you want to teach and also to recycle vocabulary to help keep it fresh in students’ minds.

Some might argue that by doing this exercise, too much vocabulary is pushed onto the students. However, this exercise not only consolidates, but also primes the students for future learning of words in context.