"Categories" in Second Language Pedagogy: Why not?

Some students may notice that Esukhia materials do not follow in the tradition of always arranging their lessons in lexical sets (parts of the body), or providing things like opposites (hot/cold) for students to memorize. While this sort of categorization is perfectly logical, it is an abstraction away from the root of how people learn and use language. It also has the effect of isolating words away from their natural contexts, making them less tangible and memorable. The research suggests that presenting language as these kinds of categories actually presents an obstacle for vocabulary acquisition. To quote Paul Nation, a renowned expert in the field:

“It is very important that curriculum design makes the connection between the research and theory of language learning and the practice of designing lessons and courses. There is a tendency for this connection not to be made, with the result that curriculum design and therefore learners do not benefit from developments in knowledge gained from research. A striking example of this is the failure of courses to take account of the findings regarding the interference that occurs when semantically and formally related items, such as opposites, near synonyms and lexical sets, are presented together (Higa, 1963; Tinkham, 1993). In spite of the clear findings of this research, which is supported by a large body of research less firmly in the area of language learning, course books continue to present names of the parts of the body, items in the kitchen, opposites such as hot–cold, long–short, old–new, numbers, days of the week and articles of clothing in the same lesson. As Tinkham (1993) and Higa (1963) show, this will have the effect of making learning more difficult than it should be.”

– Paul Nation, Language Curriculum & Design (2010)

Memorizing vocab lists may help you pass a test, but it is not a long-term solution for actual vocabulary acquisition. This takes time, exposure, and multiple contexts. A single Esukhia lesson, if successful, is thus merely one introductory exposure to any vocab item; you are not expected to ‘know’ every new vocab after a single lesson. In fact, you should expect to not know the words… Not until you’ve seen them up to 20 (or even more!) times! Instead, it would be good to focus practicing them in communicative contexts, or in real situations in your daily life.