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What is the one thing that makes a good language learner?

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by minka1, Dec 17, 2016.

  1. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    This is a copy of Gianfranco Conti's recent post on Facebook for Mfl resources and ideas group. Reinforcing the idea that not enough vocabulary is learned at Mfl in UK schools. See actual post for accompanying graphic which I could not copy over.

    By the end of a typical GCSE course the estimated vocabulary size of an MFL student is 2,000 words at GCSE Higher and 1,000 at GCSE Lower (Milton, 2006). If we divide that number by 5 years of French (from yr 7 to yr 11) that equates with, 5.2 words per lesson, in truth a very manageable burden. In 2006, however, the national average showed that GCSE students in English state schools had accrued a vocabulary amounting to less than 1,000 words each (see picture, below, from Milton, 2006).
    In deciding how many words to 'teach' per lesson, though, one needs to take into account lots of contextual factors and what we actualy mean by 'teach'.
    In fact, the question should not be 'how many words should I teach', but rather (1) ' how many words do I expect my students to learn receptively (i.e. simply be able to recognize) and (2)how many productively (i.e. be able to recall and use in real time)and also (3) to what degree of spontaneity (i.e. how fast and across how many contexts can they use them) and (4) to what level of meaning (as some words may mean different things in different contexts) and (5) most importantly, by when and for the short or long term . Each of the above calls for different approaches and inevitably affect the number of target words in a lesson.
    Moreover, other important factors need to be considered, such as the level of the students (the more words they know already the easier will be for them to pick up more words), the learning strategies they have, how likely they are to do their homework,etc. One important teaching strategy neglected by popular websites like Linguascope is to increase the number of target words by teaching new words in short phrases / chunks of 3 to 5 (short) words and in context. Teaching in chunks not only increases the number of words but also enhances the students' word-consciousness (Scott, Skobel, & Wells, 2008).
    Finally, it is important to notice that research shows that the top 200 words we use most frequently in our daily lives occur in 50% of the texts we read daily (and we give our students). So, those should take priority in our Schemes of Work.
    More on this in my next blogpost on The Language Gym to be published this eve
  2. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

  3. roulette

    roulette New commenter

    It might not be the fault of the teachers or the students. Take the Tschichold study, for example.

  4. Incommunicado

    Incommunicado Occasional commenter

    From the Tschichoid study in roulette's post...

    " Unfortunately, the Common European framework of Reference for Languages gives no figures for vocabulary size at each level."

    At last! Someone hopefully in a position of influence has actually acknowledged what classroom teachers have been saying for years: Levels, whether Common European Framework or the old National Curriculum Levels (not to mention their b*stard offspring, the Sub-Levels - 2a, 2c etc) have always had this glaring deficiency that renders them useless. And yet, they have been perpetuated by SLTs who think that they are a nice way of indicating progress on reports, and even by teacher-trainers who seemed to imagine that they were in some way an infallible indication of students' ability. The fact that they did not define vocabulary, or vocabulary size at each level rendered them useless, but for some 20 years or so language teachers allowed themselves to be strangled by students' "levels", and the collection and listing thereof - one of the most criminal wastes I ever saw of teachers' time and energy.

    Even today schools seem obliged to produce their own in-house scheme of levels to indicate progress - and yet these concoctions consist only of the vaguest 'can do' statements with no reference to amounts of vocabulary acquired. A totally pointless exercise which regrettably gives a façade of a scheme of assessment in operation.
  5. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    To reiterate Dr Conti's statement .
    "In 2006, however, the national average showed that GCSE students in English state schools had accrued a vocabulary amounting to less than 1,000 words each (see picture, below, from Milton, 2006). "
    This is why students hate learning languages in English schools. Progress is painfully slow . Students do not feel they are learning fast enough or for it to be useful. They do not get the chance to be enthused by their own success. And the perception it is not worth the effort remains.
  6. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    To OP I feel Mnemonics is the way to go. Or perhaps using lyrics of songs. I feel the spread of English language music and songs have helped the spread of English through the world as well as film, TV. , and empire building . Your kids might get a fondness for mfl if they can get into the music of the country.

  7. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    The above post was meant to be in answer to a different thread. Apologies for any confusion caused in this thread.
  8. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

  9. sam enerve

    sam enerve New commenter

    What is the one thing that makes a good language learner?

    Alcohol!!!!! works for me every time! o_O
    Idiomas11 likes this.
  10. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    I think you misread the title of this thread. It was not what makes a good mfl teacher.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  11. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    Lara mfl 05 likes this.

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