Thursday, 30 July 2009

Teaching my dog to whistle.

A small child brags to a friend, "I taught my dog to whistle."
"Wow!" says the other, "Let's hear!" "Oh, he can't whistle," replies
the first. "Why not? I thought you said you taught him!" "I did! He just
didn't learn it."
Geoff Hancock - Ofsted inspector


I'm going to be honest with you.
Tricky, for a bloke, I know.

But here goes, ahem, I am really struggling, trying to get my GCSE students to learn and retain vocabulary.

Teaching new vocabulary, is not a problem. I use many different techniques. I've even tried making it fun! I test them regularly; they get good results.

So, where's the problem?

Well, they don't know it the week after the test.

It is as if they never learned it in the first place.

And they didn't.

Not properly.

I've been reading up on this and the internet is full of excellent pages, sites, resources and ideas on how best to learn vocabulary.

Some of them are amazing:
David Bolton's website
Ripon grammar school's MFL site
Estrellas from MFL Sunderland
Task Magic 2 - Newcastle United 0 (Well, that's what my students call it!)
I could go on and on (and I often do!)

I've learned all about power glide (not gym equipment, the Transformer, or the automatic clutch system developed by General motors) and diglot weave (not a hairpiece for bilingual slapheads!). They aren't nearly as interesting as they sound!

But all these sites require a certain something and my students are missing that one key ingredient.

The student has to want to learn.

And mine don't.

Short of hypnosis, bribery, blackmail, and ill-thought-out threats I am running out of ideas.

Help me Obi-Wan're my only hope...

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