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Modern Languages - Graphs and graft together

What the lesson is about

"French without Tears", "German Made Easy" . These titles smack of snake oil to me. I have the same reaction when anyone suggests we abandon homework, additional exercises or vocabulary memorisation, writes David Clark.

Some years back, depressed by a clutch of wretched scores, I invited the headteacher into my lesson to give a pep talk. He asked one pupil who had scored disappointingly: "How long did you spend on this task?" "About 30 minutes," the boy replied. Another said he had already learnt it in class.

There were lessons here for me. I was not stretching an able individual and was being unreasonably demanding of another.

After a conversation with pupils, I produced a faculty ideas list including:

1. Discuss a memorisation technique with a group in class and then, under time pressure, get them to apply it before testing.

2. Set a few key phrases or sentences to learn, rather than lists of vocabulary.

3. When learning individual terms, exclude cognates and break the material up into small chunks by category.

4. Encourage pupils to break learning time into several short slots, focusing on about seven items each time.

5. Suggest to pupils that they explore different learning methods to find one that suits them best.

6. Remind them to self-test on paper and repeat.

7. Make pupils chart their scores on a bar graph in the back of their exercise books so they can see their progress.

Learning to organise time and accept the rewards of mental application should never go out of fashion.

What else?

Help pupils assess their work with Geekie's marking display cards. Try runaway's learning plan, which shows their progress clearly.

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