Messaging: Beyond a Lexical Approach

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Messaging: Beyond a Lexical Approach is a methodology book for language teachers that aims to stimulate reflection and new thinking.  It argues that languages can be taught and learned more directly and efficiently by

  1. designing  learning materials around the approach that structures the traditional holiday phrasebook, and
  2. allowing some forms of translation to play a role in the learning process.

The approach is clearly explained with examples of activities and materials given throughout the book.

  • Messaging: Beyond a Lexical Approach is now available at Amazon in Kindle format.
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15 thoughts on “Messaging: Beyond a Lexical Approach

  1. Good luck with this George – personally I think you are onto a winner here taking the lexical approach forwards.

    1. George Woolard says:

      Thanks Richard. I hope teachers will find the ideas and activities in the book useful in the classroom.

  2. Have just started reading this, and have been impressed so far. Nice to see that ideas from the lexical approach live on, and haven’t been dismissed like in some quarters.

  3. I finished the book three days ago and I cannot wait to try the ideas out. I believe that in the way that is described in the book students could learn a foreign language well.

    I have two questions:
    a) is there anyone who started developing English materials for this approach?
    b) George, could you send me your materials which you used to learn Spanish as a beginner. I would love to try this approach on me too.

    Thank you for this great book.

  4. George Woolard says:

    Hi Zdenda,
    I’m glad you found the ideas in Messaging interesting and that you are eager to try them out. My main aim in writing the book was to encourage teachers to experiment with the approach and to create teaching materials in the process.

    As far as I know there are no published materials based on the approach available at present but I hope these will emerge bit by bit as teachers try out the approach in the classroom. The key is to find suitable texts to exploit and then to create message-based activity worksheets / activites for each text.

    In learning Spanish I found appropriate texts in the material from Notes in Spanish ( However, the texts in almost any established beginners textbook for learning Spanish could be used. It’s what you do with the text that counts and not the text itself.

    I would also get a copy of the Collins Easy Learning Spanish Dictionary or similar and experiment with the ideas of surfing the dictionary that are outlined in chapter 5 of Messaging. This is a great way to get a feel for what it means to ‘modify the message’.

    I hope this helps.

    Best wishes,

  5. I’m a ritired professor, I’ve moved over from medicine to languages.
    Hence my FCIL. I was facinated by your book on language lessons with laughter, as I am tackling French vocabulary set in numerous situations.
    Citics of thesis work want practicle exercises demonstrating the value of your approach you may well have a good reference to practical tests of the kind desired.
    Needless to say, the success of your publications would seem to speak sufficiently for itself.
    I shall be most gratful for advice from you.

    I’d love a reply,
    yours sincerely,
    Paul Cannon.

    1. George Woolard says:

      Hi Paul,

      Sorry for taking so long to answer your post. Unfortunately I don’t know of any reference to the practical tests that you refer to.

      Thanks for reminding me of the laughter books. Learning is always more enjoyable and memorable when a little bit of humour is added to it.

      Best wishes,

  6. Julio Palma says:

    Hi George,
    I just bought your book from and I just love it. I am not a native english speaker and I have found your material very useful to create worksheets for my students. I teach English at the Universidad del Zulia in Venezuela. I have seen a growing body of rearch behind your approach recently, but you are the first who have actually come up with practical ideas.
    My question is: what kind of texts would you recommend to find ‘messages’, functional conversations, poetry, non-ficton? Do you think students should be encouraged to spot their own messages or is it up to the teacher’s only?
    I am going to experiment this approach this semester with my students, I hope I can share the results with you.
    Thank you.
    Julio Palma

    1. George Woolard says:

      I explain these ideas in more detail in the following article from the Humanising Language Teaching Magazine – I hope this helps.

  7. George Woolard says:

    Hi Julio,

    Two very important questions and the easiest and most general response I can give is to say that we find messages in all types of text, and that both the learner and the teacher should select which ones to focus on. This selection should be based on what is useful to learners in a particular learning context.

    I would argue that the learner as a fluent speaker of at least one language already knows what messages are useful to him/her and that their aim is to express these in another language. The most practical way to isolate these messages is to get your students to ask ‘How do you say ……………………. in English? Once the message is established you can exploit it in the way outlined in the book. The teacher can also guide this process by focussing on messages which cover some of the core structural patterns in English.

    I look forward to hearing about your experimentation with the approach.

    Best wishes,

  8. Incoming link: Similes for learners of English | ENGAMES

  9. Incoming link: Lexical Sets/Topic Vocabulary by Andrew Walkley | BELTA – The Belgian English Language Teachers Association

  10. Incoming link: A summary of “Teaching Lexically”, SLB Training Session, Nov 2014 « Cooperativa de Serveis Lingüístics de Barcelona

  11. Incoming link: The Round – Summer Special! | Linguistic Leanings

  12. Sue Argent says:

    Great ideas, George. Thanks. I used them in our second EAP course book and I’m referring to them in a forthcoming webinar for BALEAP on pronunciation.

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