10 Seconds to Learn a Modern Language Vocabulary Word

Vocabulary is critical to language learning.  Some teachers believe that the students have to repeat and repeat the modern language word and the English word  many, many, many  times before the student will learn the word.  However,  according to Brian Nielsen (http://www.kushiro-ct.ac.jp/library/kiyo/kiyo36/Brian.pdf)  “mnemonic and non-mnemonic elaboration techniques involving deep semantic processing of target words have been shown to be more effective than memorization strategies involving only shallow processing, such as oral rote-repetition” Furthermore, he  states “There are two versions of the Keyword Method, one based on the construction of visual images and the other based on the construction of sentences. Evidence exists that the visual imagery version is superior to the sentence construction version in facilitating recall of words…“Consider, for example, the Spanish word carta meaning (postal) letter. Using the keyword cart, a learner might generate either an image of a shopping cart transporting a letter, or a sentence such as The cart carries the letter.”

In my class, I go over visualization techniques (the weirder and sexier the better according to Memory Experts such as Harry Lorayne).   When we learn a new word, the students have ten seconds to connect that modern language word to the English word meaning.  Once they have an image or use it an oral sentence, they review it to see if the image is hooked in.  I use the image of velcro; the image or sentence has to attach the modern language word to the English meaning. We review their connection over  the next few days;  if they cannot remember the word, then they need a better mental connection.

How do your students learn modern language words?

    My Spanish spontaneous speaking activities (20+) includes Modified Speed Dating (Students ask partner a question from a card-whole class), Structured Speaking (Students substitute in or select words to communicate in pairs), Role Playing (Students talk as people in pictures or drawings from 2-4 people), Speaking Mats (Can talk using a wide variety of nouns, verbs and adjectives to express their ideas- pairs or small group), Spontaneous Speaking (based on visuals or topics in pairs), and Grammar speaking games (pairs or small group). Available for a nominal fee at Teacherspayteachers: http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle.I have a series of modern language visual stories (the beach, the city, school, etc.) for two students to role play; the restaurant role play involves four students. Can use in any language since there are just visuals, no words.

My book, Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment, and my book, Formative Assessment, Responding to Students, are available at http://is.gd/tbook

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