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Lexical Mining

Lexical mining is the process of extracting useful lexical chunks from a written or spoken text that students have been dealing with. The goal is that students will be able to take some of this language and use it themselves. While some students have a sponge-like memory and will seem to automatically take phrases and use them, others will need help with this.

lexical mining


1: After studying a text or listening, tell the students to draw three columns on a piece of paper. In the central column, tell students to write several pre-selected words from the passage.

2: Tell students to read or listen again and note the words that come before or after the words in the central column.

In the example below, students had read a text about Nelson Mandela.

lexical mining


1: This activity can work just as well with a listening as a reading. In this case students may listen several times, and can then be given the audioscript to check.

2: Instead of using a table, students could be given the words in circles or some other visual representation.

Follow on:

This activity easily allows greater exploration of the identified chunks. Students can be asked to identify other chunks that can be used with the initial words. Alternatively students can be asked about the phrases they found before and after. In the case of the example above, you may ask “Where else can you be sent to?” (school, hospital), “What other positions can you be elected to?” (mayor, prefect) or “What other types of guard are there?” (security guard, bodyguard). These questions help to build knowledge of correct usage (as long as the teacher refuses nonsensical suggestions – which can be done in a polite way).

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