September 11, 2011

Learning and Practicing Vocabulary, Part 1

Teachers on several different listservs have been discussing different ways to introduce and practice vocabulary. Here are some of their suggestions.

We play tons of games in my classroom to get the kids to learn the new vocabulary.

Lo Tengo (I got it!) - The class is divided into two teams. Each team is given the entire list of vocabulary words on cards (think of printing the vocab list only in French in a size 50 font or something like that). Each member of the team gets roughly the same amount of words. The teacher calls the word in English and the first student to shout ¡Lo Tengo! (or any other form of "I got it") gets the point. The team with the most points gets an extra credit point.

Vete a Pescar (Go Fish) - Groups of students (usually 4 or so) play Go Fish by asking in the target language the opposite of the card they are holding. Player with the most points gets an extra credit point.

La Solterona (Old Maid) - students in teams (usually 4 or so) take turns taking cards from the player to their right in search of matches (you can use the same set of cards as Go Fish). The player with the Old Maid card automatically loses and the player with the most matches gets an extra credit point. (A note about printing cards: I usually create a grid on Office and type the words in their. I get 3 columns and 4 rows usually. That seems to be the right size for students)

Crazy flyswatter game - post the words all over the room (print them really big!) and divide the class into two teams. Number the students. Call a word in English and then call a number. The student who gets their first gets a point for their team.

Selchow, K. Re: [FLTEACH] Need some new ideas on presenting vocabulary. FLTEACH listserv (FLTEACH@LISTSERV.BUFFALO.EDU, 28 Aug 2011).

Here are some of the ways I use flashcard games for teaching Chinese, just make adjustments for teaching your language:

1. Students partner together and spread out the designated cards on their desks (i.e. cards from lessons 1-3). I, or if the class is big, student #3, call out a card. The first person to hit the correct card gets to keep it. Keep going until all the cards are gone. Person with the most cards wins. Sometimes I then have the "winners" of each pair shift around so that the more advanced kids are challenging each other. I usually start calling words in Chinese, then English, or sometimes alternate.

2. This one doesn't always work out neatly, but it's a little different so we do it anyway. Each partner starts with 6 cards, face up on the desk (you can decide whatever's best for your class). Stack the rest of the cards face down between the students. On each turn, draw a card and decide whether or not you could exchange it or discard it. It's essentially Rummy- but trying to make a sentence out of the cards.

3. Bingo- lay out a 5x5 array of cards. When you call out the cards though, instead of just calling out words or translations, I'll throw in "verb", "noun", etc., or certain sounds within the words: "starts with ___, has a ____, ends in ____", etc.

4. I also do timed flashcards. I'll set the timer for 2 minutes, they go through as many as they can (reading the character side). They record their number, and each time we do it, the idea is to increase the number they read correctly.

B. Hsu-Miller. Re: [FLTEACH] flashcard usage. FLTEACH listserv (FLTEACH@LISTSERV.BUFFALO.EDU, 30 Aug 2011).

A technique I like that is very simple is to just have students pair up and push their desks together and lay a full set of flash cards spread out on those desks. You can either let students choose which card they want to identify or have their partner choose a card and when a student gets the translation right, they get to keep the card. The student with the most cards at the end in my classes always got participation points or paper money that could be cashed in to help a grade. I think flash cards are good if used in an interactive way and although my suggestion is simple, I think that the options are limitless!

Re: [FLTEACH] Flash card usage. FLTEACH listserv (FLTEACH@LISTSERV.BUFFALO.EDU, 29 Aug 2011).

Tune in for more ideas in next week’s InterCom.

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