Friday, July 25, 2014

An effective vocabulary review activity?

I recently completed iTDi's course "Accuracy and Fluency in Vocabulary and Grammar" starring Scott Thornbury and Penny Ur.

Penny's lecture on accuracy and vocabulary featured these criteria for good review activities:

  1. validity
  2. quantity
  3. success-orientation
  4. heterogeneity
  5. interest (higher order thinking)
  6. simplicity (no fancy preparation)
I've come up with a review of irregular past tense verbs which I hope meets the criteria. The same activity could, of course be used for other groups of recently learned words. Judge for yourself!

Update (21 August 2014): So far, I've tried this with two students in one-to-one lessons. They liked the speaking approach to recycling the verb forms. 

Step 1:
Divide an A4 sheet of paper into four quadrants and label them NEWS/SPORT/WEATHER/ENTERTAINMENT
These are common sections of a newspaper.

Step 2:
Make irregular verb flash cards from the verbs your students have studied, base verb on one side and the 2nd and 3rd forms on the other

The activity:
Have students test each other with the flash cards - both for form and meaning. Go through the stack several times, eliminating cards everyone is comfortable with.
Give the quadrant sheet to the students and have them lay flashcards on the various quadrants according to consensus as to appropriacy, for example "shoot, shot, shot" could belong to a news story about a crime, but students might agree it belongs to sport, as in "shoot a goal/basket" Let the students judge for themselves.
Have the students assign all the flashcards to one of the four quadrants, if possible.
The activity could stop here for low levels.
For higher levels, have students pick up a flashcard and make up a radio report or newspaper article based on it - spoken or written.

Pitfall: there could be anxiety due to multiple meanings of some verbs.

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