Despite the centrality of vocabulary in language learning, few studies have focused on the correlation between the structure of textbooks and vocabulary learning, and how teachers work with vocabulary in the classroom. No extensive study so far has focused on the way vocabulary is structured in Swedish textbooks written for beginners of English. To fill this gap, Cathrine Norberg and Marie Nordlund have initiated a project to study how the contents of English textbooks written for the Swedish elementary school relate to research on vocabulary acquisition and what teaching methods are used to enable pupils to gain a sizeable vocabulary.
The project consists of two interrelated parts. The purpose of the first part is to map how vocabulary is presented in seven textbooks for young learners of English (YLE) in school years 3–4. To make searches of the material and comparisons between the books possible, a corpus including all the words in the books has been compiled and tagged.
The purpose of the second part is to shed light on how vocabulary is taught in elementary classes. The empirical data will be gathered through classroom observations and qualitative interviews with teachers.
Since textbooks are central in language teaching and learning, but commonly chosen without reflection of their potential to facilitate vocabulary learning, this project serves an important purpose in contributing with new knowledge in a field that has not yet been fully studied. It will shed light on the importance of producing and choosing appropriate teaching materials for second language acquisition, and show the necessity of teachers’ in-service training in the methodology for YLE.