"You talk as if a god had made the Machine.. Men made it, do not forget that. Great men, but men. The Machine is much, but it is not everything. I see something like you in this plate, but I do not see you. I hear something like you through this telephone, but I do not hear you. That is why I want you to come. Pay me a visit, so that we can meet face to face, and talk about the hopes that are in my mind."The machine stops - 1909 - Forster

Monday, January 3, 2011


What does this picture remind you of?

It's the vocabulary panel which hangs on the wall of our classroom.
Time has come to digitalize it :).
Here you can find the Web2 version.
Click on the pockets and you can listen to the words and see the pictures.
You can find some games as well.
It's a work in progress...
You fill up the pockets with word cards and I keep on adding new links.

Click here to open the glogster.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


I love words.

When I read the post The Two Week Vocabulary Blogging Challenge I thought I could share some of the ways my students and I store words.
I have to confess I am a big fan of word cards, the small pieces of cards that have the foreign word on one side and its translation on the other, no matter if that is a picture, a definition or anything which can help the memorization process . If you are interested in vocabulary cards you may like to take a look at this article:
EMO-TIONAL Verb Cards - Ideas for Teaching Vocabulary

Maybe I am vocabulary-obsessed. I spend a lot of time teaching vocabulary, mnemonic techniques, introducing words, practicing, recycling and using them in different and personalized contexts. I am convinced that storing vocabulary items in a systematic way can greatly help students remember the words. When learners acquire new vocabulary they need concrete, physical ways to collect and keep it, a "safe" and personal place they can refer to whenever they want. At beginner level we organize vocabulary through topics.
We choose the way at the beginning of the first year of Middle School and then we stick to it for all the three-year course. The students regularly and systematically test themselves ( usually at the beginning of each lesson ) to check the learning of new items. Quick, whole-class activities are also provided to help vocabulary retention as well as autonomous tasks to carry out, using both technonology and traditional ways.
What follows are some ways of storing words which have been tested in class.

Vocabulary Notebook

Students use a "Vocabulary Notebook", which is a sort of self-created Pictionary, for systematic organization of vocabulary notes. This process involves abilities which are also extralinguistic, it is multiple-intelligence friendly and it works well with multi-level classes .
Here is an example ( created by a Middle School student , in year 1 and 2 )

Word Wheels


They're easy to build and students can keep track of all the words they should know: you need just some pins and templates. Again, they can write the translation or draw a picture in the empty spaces.

Slot Book

Each student has a folder divided into 12 separate slots where the vocabulary cards are kept. They start by inserting the words in slot number one, from where they go to number two and so on until the last slot. The final aim is making all the cards end up in the twelfth slot , meaning that those words should have been learnt. This method is for individual memory training and it is based on the memory principle of spaced repetition: in the last stage words can be revised less frequently.

Transparent Folders

These are folders with pockets to be inserted in ring binders which the students fill up with word cards . They come in handy when revising in pairs. The students face each other with the folder between them: one reads the mother tongue words while the partner has to provide the English forms and the other way round.

Vocabulary Panel

The storage systems described above are for individual reference and study.
As a class, we have a vocabulary panel on the wall. It is home-made :), it's got some pockets and students in turn prepare the cards to be put inside. A lot of activities are done systematically ( usually as a warm up at the beginning of the lesson ) in order to recycle and retrieve vocabulary.

And here is a Web2 version of the vocabulary panel. There are links to speaking dictionaries where the students can listen to the pronunciation of words and see the images. It' s a work in progress ans I'll keep on adding new links whenever I find some interesting sites.

WEB2 Vocabulary Panel