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Developing students' use of English vocabulary in second language learning

Author Affiliations

  • 1School of Arts and Social Sciences, Egerton University, Nairobi, Kenya
  • 2School of Arts and Social Sciences, Egerton University, Nairobi, Kenya

Int. Res. J. Social Sci., Volume 7, Issue (7), Pages 1-7, July,14 (2018)


English has always been used in Kenya as the official language of communication as well as the medium of instruction in schools, colleges and universities. It is also the pre-eminent language of international communication. In Kenyan education system proficiency in English makes the learning of other subjects much easier. Proficiency is tested through essay writing. Kenyan secondary syllabus adopts an integrated approach to the teaching of language. Integration means merging two autonomous but related entities in order to strengthen and enrich both. Kenyan secondary syllabus has integrated English and literature. Through exposure to literature the learners are expected to improve their language skills. They not only enrich their vocabulary but also learn to use language in a variety of ways. Similarly, an improved knowledge of the language enhances the learner's appreciation of literary material. Therefore integration means that no language skill should be taught in isolation. Listening, speaking, reading and writing skills should complement each other. High school essay writing is divided into two parts: imaginative and functional skills. Imaginative essay tests learners' creativity while functional composition tests learners' ability to follow given formats. Appropriate vocabulary used in the two types of compositions determines whether the learner has a mastery of the skill being tested or not. Assisting learners develop the right vocabulary for a given topic helps learners to express themselves clearly and correctly. Ellis's theory of instructed second language acquisition shows that instructed learners develop the ability to use their linguistic and pragmatic knowledge in the production of correct and appropriate sentences. Krashen's input hypothesis asserts that learners\' linguistic competence is built up through comprehension of the input available for acquisition.


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