A change of tack, untested and potentially tacky

Currently I’m teaching two streams of students. The new first graders and the second grade students who I had taught last year. Still at high school, I’ve got the ‘problem’ of creating a set of lesson plans for teaching my old first graders; the new second graders. After some thought I’ve decided instead of creating more material (which I think has been exhausted anyway) I’ve decided to use a different teaching style. I’m still leading my students to the context, but I’m also using the lexical approach. Throw chunks of new vocabulary at the students and have them use it. A while ago I had struck upon the idea of using collocations for the students to discover and learn. A number of problems to solve swim out of the murk for this tack to work. How to introduce new lexical items? How do I have the students notice and connect collocates without boring them to death?

The current teaching framework I’m using (PPP) works like a charm. But my friend commented and berated me on teaching a vocabulary lesson as this is something that a KET would do. The reply to that is, that it’s a lesson of two parts. Input of vocabulary in the first hour, the second part is that of production and practice using the new vocabulary. The extra layering that’s needed for young learners is the need to communicate. Easily solved, this equates to putting it in the form of a game. So, this leaves the problem of how do you get the student’s to take notice of collocates?

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One Response

  1. I’ve just taught the first week of lessons using the lexical approach. I have to say that it had a mixed response. Some of the classes responded well (to be thrown into the deep end that is), while my other classes responded with silence. Which the best any student can do given the lack of context to go with. I did however add context in the form of pictures, but even this addition lend to a mixed response of inaccurate sentences with me offering a lot of correction. Too much talking, lacking in context. The lexical approach was a good idea at the time, but it’s back to square one and to the drawing board on this one.

    Despite all the efforts to aid the students in making the sentence, only a few of them were able to.I tend to think that it may have been fluency taken a step to far without the aid of practice before hand.The end goal was to have the students produce a sentence but without any guidelines or without any scaffolding from me. This was not possible for a good majority of the students,

    But, what do I have to learn for this?

    After some thought, I strongly believe that the lesson lacked a contextual setting. In other words, a theme for the lesson to have the students get to anticipate what the expected language might be. So for example, the teaching of phrasal might be relating to sports. The next problem is how might they learn the new vocabulary? A matching game, matching the definition with the word would be one approach. A worksheet works in the same way, and is a way of getting more students to understand. The downside is that it leads to potential wasting of paper. Have the students negotiate for meaning? They do this to a certain extent in Korean. But, in having learnt the phrasal, is it still a lesson when you get them to use it? This has to be fleshed out. How do I scaffold their gap in being able to synthesis a sentence around a given phrasal chunk? Easy. Present a context, then give them the phrasal. Make a sentence, with the aim being fluency.

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