My students are 6 classes into the school year (we meet every other day) and I am excited about the progress they have made. I am sticking to the go slow and when you think you are going slow enough, go slower! One thing I love including in class is music. I try and create a presentation to introduce a singer about every other song that I do, depending upon the resources I have available. I just created one to go with the song Escapar by Enrique Iglesias. I was careful to try use very simple language and use lots of images to illustrate the text. I also try and bring in geography and a bit of culture beyond just who the singer is into the presentations. What saved me a lot of time in making this presentation was using the image search feature that is build right into Google Presentation. The presentation was designed to go with the first CI unit I start with here called El pez dorado y el gato gris. Resources for that unit are here. Another presentation I have created is for the song Color Esperanza.
One area I have noticed that some kids struggle in the language learning process is consistent review and practice of vocabulary outside of class. This year (or at least for sure this trimester) I decided to make helping students establish that habit as my main purpose for homework for beginning students. I decided to simplify and gamify homework for my beginning Spanish students with that purpose in mind by using Memrise. I want students to develop study habits of regularly reviewing vocabulary outside of class and see how those efforts pay off. These are my observations 2 weeks in to the school year after students have begun using Memrise. Memrise is a website that allows you to create a course that will help students review vocabulary in an interactive, fun way.
Students have begun requesting that I add vocabulary for them to the Memrise course. This is very easy to do and I can be responsive to student’s requests. Since the course has modules, students can pick and choose which topics they do and when if they would like to work on a topic we are not learning in class at the time. I am using a Comprehensible Input and storytelling approach to most of my teaching this year and don't plan to introduce vocabulary topically (like teaching all of the colors and weather etc. at once). However, some of my students have asked for lists in that form. This provides a nice way to do that for them, while staying true to how I would like to introduce vocabulary in class.
Teachers can create groups for classes. I had students use their real names along with something they liked doing. (ex.- Kim-Climbing) This helps me get to know them another way and gives them a safe username as well. You can track student points weekly, monthly and for all time high scores. I had told students 30 minutes a week initially for practice, but I would suggest coming up with a number of points. We are currently in discussion about that. We are also discussing if I should be looking at the leaderboard online to check in the homework or if they should log their progress and show me a sheet. Keeping track on a sheet would allow them to identify if they met their weekly goal or reflect on progress. This has been a good opportunity to give students voice in the process.
Overall, I think Memrise is a great tool to help students with practicing vocabulary outside of class! If you would like to take a peek at the course I am in the process of creating you can click here. There are also lots of other existing courses on Memrise