Communicative Approach combined with Lexical Approach:
the perfect cocktail at Design Your Language.

The importance of learning vocabulary before grammar.


How many words of Italian do you know? If the answer is more than 2.500, then you have a good chance to communicate effectively.

At Design Your Language we put a great emphasis on learning vocabulary on a regular basis and we encourage our students to set their own goals each week. A minimum of 10 new words per week is therefore highly recommended.

According to the Lexical Approach there’s no great distinction between vocabulary and grammar, but for sure grammatical structures are subordinate to communicative structures. Most of these structures are fixed combinations of words, called lexical phrases, or chunks.

The learning process is mainly based on the gradual acquisition of word-sequences, from simple ones to multi-word units. In Italian we call them “collocazioni” and they represent the most recurrent combinations of words. Here are a few examples:

“dalla A alla Z”, “una ventata di ottimismo”, “un lampo di genio”. There are different kinds of chunks: “noun + adjective”, “noun + verb”, “verb + noun”, “verb + prepositions”, etc. 

Each student should concentrate more on these “lexical phrases” rather than on grammar. Grammar is just a small part of a language and it does not enable students to develop the so-called communicative competency. However, we believe that each student is different and the cognitive style varies according to age, nationality, motivation and degree of education. That’s why we tend to mix the Communicative Approach, based on conversation and role-plays, with the Lexical Approach, where vocabulary and grammar coexist in a pleasant way.

Claudio Consiglio, Founder of Design Your Language