Application of Etymology-Visualization Techniques to Teaching Financial English Vocabulary


The great leader Comrade Kim Jong Il said as follows.

"In order to give a qualitative and high-level education, universities should steadily improve their methods of teaching as well as the content of education. All educational institutions should get rid of the old teaching method such as cramming that urges students to memorize or dictate to a class, and apply in full the superior teaching method of our own style."

All the students of finance faculty in Kim Il Sung University take an ESP course (financial English course) after the General English(EGP) course. The students feel financial English course harder than EGP course although they are both English, which requires more effective teaching approaches to overcome the difficulty of ESP course compared with the EGP course.

Illustrating the relationship between ESP and EGP, the paper reveals that the most important point that distinguishes financial English from EGP exists inside vocabulary rather than grammar, context or stylistics. We illustrate some points for financial English vocabulary; not a few financial English vocabularies are rooted in EGP vocabulary, there exists different English vocabulary for identical financial phenomena and financial English vocabulary can't be regarded as having Korean equivalent all the time. Taking advantages of etymology and visualization that have been accepted as effective tools for pedagogy of several disciplines, we suggest etymology-visualization techniques for acquiring financial English vocabulary in teaching practice. The combination of etymology and visualization aims at facilitating students to comprehend and acquire the target vocabulary by visualizing the abstract meaning of financial English vocabulary with its literal concrete meaning. This has a wide variation like ‘figurative reasoning approach', ‘descriptive reasoning approach', ‘semantic contrast approach', ‘multilingual reasoning approach', and ‘derivative decomposition approach'.

Applying these techniques, we've made a study of its efficiency. 114 students are divided into two groups. Group A is taught financial English vocabulary in a traditional way i.e. by explaining them in English as in dictionary and merely matching them with Korean equivalent, while group B is taught in the new way i.e. through etymology-visualization approach for a semester. Later the participants are examined to evaluate their ability for acquisition and retention of vocabulary. It's also examined how much this would encourage learners by analyzing the learners' attitude i.e. how much it can turn the students' feeling of ‘must do' into that of ‘like to do'. The outcome of Group B is proved more positive than Group A both from cognitive and emotional perspectives.

We assume that there might be a relationship between polysemy and frequency of EGP vocabulary and a relationship between frequencies of EGP and ESP vocabulary. If the polysemy and frequency of EGP are nearly matched, it is desirable to list the most frequent and the most polysemous EGP vocabulary from which financial meaning could be born, providing a shortcut for learners to enrich their ESP word warehouse (Wordlist 1). If the frequency of EGP vocabulary and that of ESP vocabulary is nearly matched, it is hopeful to list the overlapped ESP word list (Wordlist 2). And wordlist 1 and 2 should be combined to produce overlapped wordlist 3. The paper suggests that if the above assumption is proved, wordlist 3 is given to the first stage of ESP learners (beginners), wordlist 2 to the second stage, and wordlist 1 to the third stage.

The mentioned above is published in "VNU Journal of Foreign Studies" (Vol. 35, No.4, 2019), entitled "Application of Etymology-Visualization Techniques to Teaching Financial English Vocabulary: A Korean Perspective" (