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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 New 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 New commenter

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