“Why don´t they learn? It is horrible. I have to give him E. Why? What do I do wrong?” I was desperate. “All they had to do was to learn 25 words. And we learnt them at school. And now they know nothing!! What more can I do?!” I wailed.
“Be wise and revise,” Joe spoke.
I was surprised. Joe never commented, never offered his opinion on anything. We had been sitting in the same office for three years, but I knew next to nothing about him. He just came here, took his books and then I might see him at the end of the day. And even then he didn´t say much.
He wasn´t unfriendly, he just did not talk.
“Sorry, what did you say?”
He breathed deeply, hesitated and then repeated.
“Be wise and revise.”
“But I revise,” I defended myself. “We do all the exercises in the textbook and workbook. I assign homework and we speak in lessons. I do everything, but the students do nothing. They are LAZY!!!” I was angry. I took my students’ failure personally and I felt like a loser.
“I do not want to preach, but in my opinion, that is not enough. Do you want to hear more?” It was obvious that if I said no, Joe would stop and keep quiet for another three years.
“Sure, if you don’t mind.”
“Well, when I was young I found out a very interesting thing. We forget.”
“You didn´t know that?”
“Of course I did, but I thought that we forget just a little. But then I did a small experiment. I tried to learn German. I learnt German vocabulary and I was pretty scientific about it. I learnt every day for one month. I noted down when I studied and I varied the methods how I studied. I noted everything down and I tested my knowledge and kept the records.
And then I stopped and I did no German for six months,” he looked at me. “How many words do you think I knew then?”
“I don´t know. Half?”
“I wish. The truth is that I knew exactly the same number of words as I had known before I started.”
“Really?” I was shocked.
“I think I am pretty good at learning languages, but half a year later, I knew nothing. And then I understood that I have to revise with my students all the time.
I think that I am gifted but I remembered absolutely nothing when I didn’t revise. And then I realised that you have to be wise and revise.”
“And how do you do it?” I asked.
“There are many methods, and you will soon devise ones that will suit you, but here are some, that I like and that work for me. Do you want to hear more?”
How to Revise Vocabulary
This is one of the most effective methods that I know.
After you teach some vocabulary in one lesson (you can find some interesting methods of teaching vocabulary here), prepare the following table for the lesson before you write the test. This table contains 16 words, but it is quite easy to expand it.
The document consists of two tables. In the first one, there are the words in English, their pronunciation and the meaning in Czech (my students’ mother tongue). In the second table, the words are either in English (25% of all the words) or in Czech (75% of the words). This document is used in the following way: In the first table, students copy the English words into the line below. They write the words twice in English and once in Czech. (see the picture below)
Once students finish this table, they move to the second one. Here, they just translate the words into English or their mother tongue.
The following method works perfectly with young learners.
Students form a row in front of the board. Play the video. The first student says the word he/she sees on the board and goes to the end of the row. The next student says another word and so on. If a student makes a mistake, the teacher stops the video and plays it from the beginning again. I usually give my students 3 attempts.
Another way to revise the vocabulary using the video is to ask all your students to say the words. All of them sit down and you play the video and the whole class says the words.
You can revise grammar in the same way as the vocabulary.
You can play the following video and students have to complete the sentences with WAS or WERE.
However, my favourite method of revising grammar are revision cards.
Students write a diagnostic test and I analyze their mistakes and prepare cards like the ones below. I print cards on both sides. One side contains the solution and the other the questions. Each grammar point is printed on a paper of a different colour. For example, the present simple is on yellow cards, present continuous on orange cards and the verb HAVE GOT is on green paper.
Students analyze their tests and then they choose the colour they need. They write their answers into their exercise books and they check their answers on the other side of the cards. It is very effective and students learn a lot.
In this post, you can find four methods how to revise with your students. In the first part, there is a simple, yet incredibly effective way to revise vocabulary. Students have to write a lot but they’ll remember a lot.
You can revise vocabulary using videos, too. It is fun and takes little time.