Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Modern Foreign Languages - Memory Joggers: Resources

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Modern Foreign Languages - Memory Joggers: Resources

Article excerpt

Invent 'word families' to build student's speaking skills.

Anybody who has ever tried to learn a foreign language will know that receptive skills such as listening and reading always develop first. You may be able to understand a conversation between native speakers, but you will find it a lot more difficult to take part.

Using cognates and near-cognates helps students to develop their confidence and builds up their vocabulary. In addition, they are easier to understand and commit to memory.

Introduce students to the concept of "word families" and get them to look at the most commonly used prefixes and suffixes. Getting students to "invent" words by playing around with prefixes and suffixes is also a fun way to get them to understand how words are formed. The "invented" words can then be checked in the dictionary and points can be awarded to the team that "created" the most correct words.

Simple visuals can be associated with key sentence starters to scaffold extended oral or written answers. For instance, a "V" is a great prompt to encourage students to use the near future in French (Je "vais"). And visuals created by students can be used as mnemonics to help them remember key language structures.

Tools that can support the development of both writing and speaking skills include: Spell with Flickr, a source of pictures of individual letters; Memorize Now, which takes letters or words out of a text; and Mindomo, a mind-mapping site.

Students are more likely to try to speak if they are given some privacy to experiment with the phonic system of the new language. …

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