Teaching and Learning Polysemous Lexical Items – Annotated Bibliography Example

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The paper "Teaching and Learning Polysemous Lexical Items" is a good example of an annotated bibliography on education. Introduction Polysemy is the ability of a symbol, word, or phrase to have several meanings. In other words, a symbol, word, or phrase can have several semes hence multiple senses. Even though the words or phrases might have different senses, they are related. There are three features that are critical for polysemous words. First, each of their numerous senses has the main origin. Second, the senses interlink to form a network. Lastly, the understanding of the main origin of the polysemous words helps in the understanding of the secondary use of such words.

Polysemy is critical in language-related disciplines such as linguistics and media studies. It is difficult to determine polysemy since polysemy is a vague concept based on relatedness. The act of applying existing words to develop new concepts is an act of changing a language. It is, therefore, important to understand etymology if one wants to completely understand polysemy. However, that is not enough since some words are lost in etymology.

Furthermore, some of the words that share a historical origin are not related thus making etymology a fallible test to determine polysemy. In some instances, the writers of the dictionary have differed to the intuitions of the writers to determine polysemy. There are several words in English that are polysemous; for instance, the phrase “ to get” can mean “ understand, ” “ become, ” or “ procure. ” There are several methods to which polysemy can be tested. One of the ways is called zeugma; in explanation, if a given word shows an element of zeugma in distinct contexts then it is likely to cause different polysemes.

When two senses of a given word do not fit despite being related, they are likely to be polysemous. However, such tests depend on the judgments of the speaker on the relatedness even though the test is fallible thus used merely as a concept to help determine the polysemous nature of words Literature Review According to Crossley, Salsbury, and McNamara (2010), Second Language learners start to use polysemous words when they are at during the earliest four months of learning. After this, they start to expound on the core meanings of these sounds.

However, Joe (2010) argues that vocabulary learning is more determined by the number of times the student has to encounter a given word as opposed to the richness of the context. It is important, therefore, that the first four months to which the students have to train should be characterized with a high frequency of given words that the students are to learn. The acquisition of the Second Language vocabulary is highly incremental when its context is natural.

In agreement, Garnier and Schmitt (2016) indicate that attention should be dedicated to the words that need to be learned. However, the authors argue that more attention should be given to phrasal verbs in the English language since they are more problematic to learners. In addition, Makni (2014) argues that the image-schema-based vocabulary instruction method is better in learning and teaching polysemous vocabulary among the Second Language learners compared to the translation-based vocabulary instruction method. English teachers should, therefore, ensure that the second language learners efficiently and comprehensively understand the English language in an easier way.


Crossley, S., Salsbury, T., & McNamara, D. (2010). The development of polysemy and frequency used in English second-language speakers. Language Learning, 60(3), 573-605.

Falkum, I. L. (2011). The semantics and pragmatics of polysemy: A relevance-theoretic account (Doctoral dissertation, UCL (University College London)).

Garnier, M., & Schmitt, N. (2016). Picking up polysemous phrasal verbs: How many do learners know and what facilitates this knowledge?. System, 59, 29-44.

Joe, A. (2010). The quality and frequency of encounters with vocabulary in an English for Academic Purposes program. Reading in a Foreign Language, 22(1), 117-138.

Makni, F. (2014).Applying cognitive linguistics to teaching polysemous vocabulary. Arab World English Journal, 5(1), 4-20.

Schmitt, N. (1998). Tracking the incremental acquisition of second language vocabulary: A longitudinal study. Language learning, 48(2), 281-317.

Yasuda, S. (2010). Learning phrasal verbs through conceptual metaphors: A case of Japanese EFL learners. TESOL Quarterly, 44(2), 250-273.

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