Author Topic: How to help you students remember  (Read 3727 times)

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Offline michelle

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How to help you students remember
« on: December 01, 2006, 12:55:26 PM »
A good post-reading activity will include some repetition of the materials learnt in the reading.

It would be useful for the taechers to know how to organize your lesson, so that they can

remember more things as they leave the classroom.

Read more to know how~

How to help your students remember
Try the following experiment (adapted from Richard Palmer's The Brain Train).

Look at the list of words below for about one minute. Then cover the list and write down?

as many words in their original order as you can
any words that were repeated
any words that were linked
any other words you can remember
lion  red 
it  table 
yellow  elephant 
moving  on 
table  three 
football  the 
the  four 
cake  giraffe 
rickshaw  blue 
tiger  he 
asleep  five 
Mickey Mouse  it 
the  green

How many words did you remember? Is there anything you notice about the words you remembered compared with those you didn?t?

Unless you had already met this word before, you probably didn?t remember the word ?rickshaw?. It is difficult for the brain to retain something which it does not understand or with which it is unfamiliar.

You probably found that you remembered more words that appeared at the beginning or at the end of the list. It is generally the case that the brain retains more at the beginning and at the end than in the middle of any given task or study.

Similarly, you are more likely to have remembered those words which are connected. In this case the colours, numbers and animals, in particular those which produce a clear picture in your mind: the animal words are therefore easier to remember than the prepositions or the articles which are not as visual.

The more often you see or do something, the less likely you are to forget it so you probably remembered many of the words that were repeated.

Your mood and your personality may also influence what you remembered. If you were hungry while reading the above list, you may have remembered the word ?cake?. Similarly, if you?re a keen sportsperson, the word ?football? may have stayed in your mind. Things which are emotive also tend to be more memorable: something which makes you smile (?Mickey Mouse?), or something which shocks you or frightens you.

The above ?experiment? is very interesting, but what is more important is how we can use our understanding of how the brain retains information to improve our pupils? learning ? after all learning is all about remembering. If we cannot remember, we cannot learn.

Structuring our lessons
If our memories work better at the beginning and end of an activity, we should bear this in mind when we are planning our lessons. Teachers often use ?warmers? to get the class in the mood for the lesson. However, we should be careful to keep the warmer short and to introduce the target language for that lesson as quickly as possible.

Similarly, there should be a period of time at the end of the lesson in which we review the target language, ideally with a ?quiet? reflective activity that allows the pupils to consolidate and internalize what they have been practising.

If our pupils are likely to remember more at the beginning and end of a task than in the middle, this also suggests that, our pupils are likely to remember more if we have several short activities than if we have one long activity.

?Connecting? language
As the above experiment showed, language that is linked is easier to remember than language that is disconnected. This is why it is best to teach vocubulary in topics or lexical sets.

Similarly, when teaching a structure or a function, this should always be presented and practised in a context that makes the meaning clear to our pupils and the experience more memorable. Dialogues, stories and songs in particular are useful ways of contextualising language to make it easier to understand and easier to remember. Humour is the best emotive tool we can use in the classroom, so look for materials which are going to make your pupils laugh!

Providing repetition
It is generally agreed that despite all the other factors that influence our learning, repetition is the most important. The more often we see, hear or do something, the more likely we are to remember it.

The key to successful teaching is to provide that repetition in different ways, using different skills. To help our pupils remember vocabulary or structures in the short term, we can use very simple repetition in the form of games, chants and songs. I am a firm believer in the value of ?disguised drilling? ? but it must be done in a way which is fun and stimulating in itself.

One of my favourite flashcard games is a simple disappearing drill: place flashcards of 6 ? 8 words you want to teach on the board. Point to each one in turn for the whole class to say the word (or repeat it after you). Do this several times, then turn over one of the cards and say each of the words again. This time the students must remember the ?missing? word as you point to it. Turn over a second card and repeat the sequence again. Continue until you have turned over all the cards and the class are remembering all 6 ? 8 words from memory. The most effective songs and chants in the English language classroom are the simple ones which provide lots of repetition along with a strong rhythm and a catchy tune. In fact, you can make a chant out of almost any structure or vocabulary set you want to teach.

As long as you make sure you are stressing the right syllables, chanting short phrases, even simple questions and answers, helps students get their mouths around the pronunciation and fix the language in their memories, e.g.

What?s this?
It?s a pencil!
What?s this?
It?s a ruler!
What?s this?
It?s a pen!

Helping the language to ?stick?
Once your pupils have ?practised? a group of words or a particular structure, it is important to ensure that what they now have in their short-term memory can be successfully transferred to their long-term memory. In order to do this, we must provide plenty of opportunity for recycling (in the medium term) and revision (in the long term). It is only once the language is in the long-term memory that it is truly learned. This is where teachers can really exploit the materials they are using.

If, for example, you have been using a story to teach a particular structure, once the story has been used as it is in the course book, find other ways to revisit it. Make photocopies of the story and cut it up for the class to re-order. White out some of the text for the class to complete. If you have a story or a dialogue with only two or three speakers, make three copies in which you blank out a different speaker?s words in each one. Then divide the class into groups, so that there is one group for each speaker, and they work together to add the missing text. Then put one member from each group together to act out their improvised story. Use puppets, masks, or even a simple prompt to bring the story to life and make it more memorable.

In the classroom, it is important that we provide the means for all our students to remember things effectively. This means providing them with a variety of possible learning strategies and stimuli. We can use visual stimuli (pictures, stories, posters, and real objects where possible), plenty of auditory stimuli (dialogues, songs, chants, drills, etc.) and most importantly lots of pupil participation: role-play, action songs, personlisation activities, etc. in which the students not only see and hear the language but physically experience it.

Finally, it is important to be realistic about our aims and expectations ? about what language individual students can cope with and the time they need to practise it, remember it and learn it.

Offline azulazure

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Re: How to help you students remember
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2006, 12:06:40 PM »
For more advanced students, we can also use summary writing to help students understand what is the most important idea of the reading. A summary is different from a paraphrase. Paraphrasing requires a smaller scale of knowledge, the sentential knowledge. However, when writing a summary, we have to have a comprehensible understanding of the whole passage so we can eliminate the supporting ideas and retain the main idea.