Skip to main content

Practising school subject vocab

Let's suppose you've taught the L2 words for school subjects (maths, English, history etc). Perhaps you used PowerPoint slides, held up flashcards, gave a simple bilingual list, used a simple Quizlet list, showed a simplified school timetable etc. Let's then suppose you personalised the topic by combining them with "I like" and "I don't like" or other variations. What next?

A common activity which you may not have come across is to carry out a class survey. This is simple example of task-based language teaching where having a specific purpose adds motivation for the exercise. First, teach the question "What subjects do you like?" Make sure it is well established with choral repetition and some whole class QA. Then tell students they will carry out a popularity survey. They must stand up, walk about the class, and in 10 minutes ask as many friends as possible what their THREE favourite subjects are. As the students are walking round and conversing, just monitor that no English is being used.

After the 10 minutes are up, tell the students to sit down and tally the total number of mentions for each subject. Each student will end up with somewhat different tallies depending on who they asked.

Then go to the board. Ask about 5-10 individual students to read out how many "votes" they got for each subject. Keep a tally on the board, giving a running commentary. At this stage students are hearing many repetitions of each subject as well as simple numbers. Don't ask too many students as the others will be inactive for too long.

After you have recorded your data on the board, add up the totals and make a few simple statements along the lines "The most popular subject is..."; " The second most popular..." etc. Students should find this to be of general interest. Just be aware that some results may need sensitive handling if you come across a subject most of the class hate (particularly your own!)

For homework students could use the information to do a simple cross-curricular task, namely produce a bar chart or pie chart using Excel. To add a little spice ask them to ask their parent(s) what subjects they liked or disliked most at school. Tell them that next time they will need to say "My mum liked.." " My dad hated..." etc. ( You can plant how the past tense works at this point.)

You could also show an authentic text on this subject and do an instant translation into English for the class. Here is one for French:

http://www.vousnousils.fr/2015/03/05/lhistoire-geo-matiere-preferee-des-francais-quand-ils-etaient-a-lecole-564296

I found that this task worked successfully on many occasions and helped embed knowledge if school subjects. Not rocket science, but engaging and effective.





- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The latest research on teaching vocabulary

I've been dipping into The Routledge Handbook of Instructed Second Language Acquisition (2017) edited by Loewen and Sato. This blog is a succinct summary of Chapter 16 by Beatriz González-Fernández and Norbert Schmitt on the topic of teaching vocabulary. I hope you find it useful.

1.  Background

The authors begin by outlining the clear importance of vocabulary knowledge in language acquisition, stating that it's a key predictor of overall language proficiency (e.g. Alderson, 2007). Students often say that their lack of vocabulary is the main reason for their difficulty understanding and using the language (e.g. Nation, 2012). Historically vocabulary has been neglected when compared to grammar, notably in the grammar-translation and audio-lingual traditions as well as  communicative language teaching.

(My note: this is also true, to an extent, of the oral-situational approach which I was trained in where most vocabulary is learned incidentally as part of question-answer sequence…

Dissecting a lesson: using a set of PowerPoint slides

I was prompted to write this just having produced for frenchteacher.net three separate PowerPoint presentations using the same set of 20 pictures (sports). A very good way for you to save time is to reuse the same resource in a number of different ways.

I chose 20 clear, simple, clear and copyright-free images from pixabay.com to produce three presentations on present tense (beginners), near future (post beginner) and perfect tense (post-beginner/low intermediate). Here is one of them:





Below is how I would have taught using this presentation - it won't be everyone's cup of tea, especially of you are not big on choral repetition and PPP (Presentation-Practice-Production), but I'll justify my choice in the plan at each stage. For some readers this will be standard practice.

1. Explain in English that you are going to teach the class how to talk about and understand people talking about sport. By the end of the lesson they will be able to say and understand 20 different sport…

Designing a plan to improve listening skills

Read many books and articles about listening and you’ll see it described as the forgotten skill. It certainly seems to be the one which causes anxiety for both teachers and students. The reasons are clear: you only get a very few chances to hear the material, exercises feel like tests and listening is, well, hard. Just think of the complex processes involved: segmenting the sound stream, knowing lots of words and phrases, using grammatical knowledge to make meaning, coping with a new sound system and more. Add to this the fact that in England they have recently decided to make listening tests harder (too hard) and many teachers are wondering what else they can do to help their classes.

For students to become good listeners takes lots of time and practice, so there are no quick fixes. However, I’m going to suggest, very concisely, what principles could be the basis of an overall plan of action. These could be the basis of a useful departmental discussion or day-to-day chats about meth…

Delayed dictation

What is “delayed dictation”?

Instead of getting students to transcribe immediately what you say, or what a partner says, you can enforce a 10 second delay so that students have to keep running over in their heads what they have heard. Some teachers have even used the delay time to try to distract students with music.

It’s an added challenge for students but has significant value, I think. It reminds me of a phenomenon in music called audiation. I use it frequently as a singer and I bet you do too.

Audiation is thought to be the foundation of musicianship. It takes place when we hear and comprehend music for which the sound is no longer or may never have been present. You can audiate when listening to music, performing from notation, playing “by ear,” improvising, composing, or notating music. When we have a song going round in our mind we are audiating. When we are deliberately learning a song we are audiating.

In our language teaching case, though, the earworm is a word, chunk of l…

GCSE and IGCSE revision links 2018

It's coming up to that time of year again. In England and Wales. Here is a handy list of some good interactive revision links for this level. These links are also good for intermediate exams in Scotland, Ireland and other English-speaking countries. You could copy and paste this to print off for students.

Don't forget the GCSE revision material on frenchteacher.net of course! How could you?

As far as apps for students are concerned, I would suggest the Cramit one, Memrise and Learn French which is pretty good for vocabulary. For Android devices try the Learn French Vocabulary Free. For listening, you could suggest Coffee Break French from Radio Lingua Network (iTunes podcasts).

Listening
http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/french/ (Foundation/Higher) http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/french/ (Foundation/Higher)
http://www.audio-lingua.eu/spip.php?rubrique1&lang=fr (Foundation/Higher) http://www.ashcombe.surrey.sch.uk/07-langcoll/MFL-resources/french/fr-video-index.shtml