The lexical approach: A systematic way of building oral fluency

Lori Parish

The lexical approach was introduced in the early 1990s as an expedient way to expand L2 learners’ comprehension and production of the target language, yet it never gained currency among TESOL practitioners. It was pushed to the side in favor of content-based, task-based, and integrated skills L2 instruction. This paper argues that much can be gained from using a modified lexical approach. By salvaging components of the original approach and by using best practices in the field of TESOL as a guide, the resultant streamlined version is flexible enough to be used in most speaking courses where the focus is on building oral fluency. The paper begins by defining key concepts related to the lexical approach and oral fluency and then describes the necessary criteria to implement oral fluency-building tasks. The paper next describes a modified version of a lexical approach in which language functions and their corresponding phrases are systematically introduced and then recycled throughout a course.