National Post-test Service Hotline:+86 (0)10 65906903

Who accepts IELTS Book IELTS Prepare for IELTS Post-test Services



You might also be interested in

  IELTS Registration

  IELTS Test Centres

  Information for Candidates

IELTS Teacher e-newsletter – December 2016

Understanding Lexical Cohesion

Have you ever wondered: what is lexical cohesion? It can be defined as a way of uniting text using related words. The linguist, Michael Halliday, says it “…is the cohesive effect achieved by the selection of vocabulary.” It is a type of cohesion based on an inventory or related words that link sentences to make text.

Taking a closer look at this definition and wondering how it can be shared to teachers and delivered to students is the purpose of this article.

With this in mind two questions immediately arises. Are there types of lexical cohesion? How is it made? One kind of lexical cohesion is reiteration. By using it, the lexical items can convey similar meaning within or between sentences elsewhere. A seamless transition takes place moving smoothly from one sentence to the next using different kinds of relations. We can use related words or phrases to make a connection. And this connection uses reiteration where a word is repeated or a general word is used. In other words, the relation is between something that is general and specific, or the repetition of a word.

So what are the challenges for students and teachers? Knowing how to use related words for an idea and simultaneously forming unity in a text can be a task for students. Probably because there has been no formal guidelines for teaching cohesion in the classroom that there has been a lack of concern on all sides. Traditional ways of learning grammar and vocabulary does not present a curriculum that focuses on lexical cohesion. And so there is a need for teachers to facilitate the ease in this challenge. To do this, consider the following.

Here are some activities that can provide a guideline for teaching lexical cohesion.


Begin with a warm-up by showing examples of lexical cohesion.

  • Every day the alarm clock woke me up at seven o’clock without fail. But one day my roommate borrowed the alarm clock that I always depended on to wake me up.
  • Peter was sure he left his phone in the cafeteria. It was the place where we had dinner last night.

It is a good idea to ask students how the sentences are related in each example. The aim is to steer their focus on the topic. The first example shows the repetition of alarm clock. Repeating a word is the easiest type of lexical cohesion. The second example uses the word place to mean cafeteria. Here, we have a noun and a general word that also represents lexical cohesion.

Introduce the concept

Introducing the concept of lexical cohesion will, most likely, be new to teachers. Students may be already familiar with the use but they are not aware of a more formal approach to the concept. An explanation will let students become aware of cohesion and its use. The repetition of words and the use of general words to refer to something elsewhere is what lexical cohesion does.

Do a gap-fill activity

A gap filler activity gives students a more hands-on approach. Have students fill in words that form lexical cohesion. To prepare the materials, delete words from a text and then have students fill in the letters to complete the word. The reference section can be a starting point for finding materials.

Here is an example.

The r_st__r_nt had a sizeable clientele. Even though the b _s_n_ss was located in a sparsely populated area, the customers came from all over the city.

Students fill in the letters to complete the words and form lexical cohesion with the two sentences. The words are restaurant and business.

Identify words of the same theme

Give a paragraph and have students identify the lexical cohesive devices. Identifying what is repetition and what is a general word is another step in recognizing lexical cohesion.

Compare two examples

Below are two examples of a paragraph that show the use and abuse of lexical cohesion. Ask students which is a better paragraph and why.

  • Nowadays, there are many electronic devices to use as aids. Just think about the computer and its advantages in modern society. You can use a desktop in the convenience of your home. When you go travelling a laptop is an ideal thing. No matter what, it is a tool that modern man cannot do without. Indeed, the computer is a necessary aid today.
  • Nowadays, there are many electronic devices to use as aids. Just think about the computer and its advantages in modern society. You can use a computer in the convenience of your home. When you go travelling a computer is an ideal thing. No matter what, the computer is a tool that modern man cannot do without. Indeed, everyone should have a computer at their disposal.

Both paragraphs demonstrate lexical cohesion by using repetition and synonymous words for computer. But the first paragraph is better because there is more variety for the word computer. Words like laptop and desktop are synonyms of computer. The second paragraph has a mechanical usage of the word computer because it is used repeatedly. The point is that too much repetition and less variation can cause awkwardness.

Putting it together

The proof is in the pudding. Now that the students are familiar with lexical cohesion, it is time to produce and test for themselves what they have learned. Choose a topic or let students decide. Write a paragraph that demonstrates the use of lexical cohesion showing repetition and synonymy. Then show students samples of their writing on a projector. Discussing the lexical cohesive features will give a shared purpose and benefit to all.

As said earlier, reiteration is a type of lexical cohesion. This is created by the use of repetition or a word that is synonymous with a general noun. To do this, the activities suggested will bring a better awareness to writing coherently. Deciding how much time to devote to teaching lexical cohesion is a valid question. Perhaps a few lessons on the subject should be part of any curriculum that teaches writing since lexical cohesion is a feature in almost any piece of writing. It is the relation of words that brings connectivity.

Submitted by Barry Lee, British Council language assessment consultant



密    码
登录 注册