Saturday, April 7, 2012

More Vocabulary!

March 1st was the end of my first “free” long-term (16-week) course. By “free,” I mean that it was my first course where I was given complete control of the content, materials, syllabus design, and activities. Basically, no material was provided, and the content was expected to be based on the needs of the students.

In the last session (after the goodbye-party murder mystery game, of course), I spent some time getting feedback from the students about what I should work to improve for the next group of students. What things did they like? What things did they think were boring? What did I not include enough of? What should I skip next time?

They were very friendly in their feedback and told me that I was their favorite teacher ever (which I appreciate, because I worked my booty off for that class). I was very surprised, however, at their unanimous criticism (but I was also very grateful for it, because it was something I would not have independently realized).

And the criticism was....(drum roll)....


It really surprised me. First of all, I remember drilling vocabulary as a Spanish student, and I also remember how much I hated it. Second, I'm currently at the stage in language learning (for German) where grammar seems like the most important thing. It seems that I've forgotten that in my years as an advanced Spanish learner, the grammar was all in my mind, and that it was the vocabulary that I needed the most. As such, I can see that I've neglected a lot of explicit vocabulary instruction in my teaching, in favor of communicative grammar instruction.

On a side note, as I was drafting this post, this quotation at the top of a post from Teaching Cloggy Style resonated with me: While without grammar very little can be conveyed, without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed.”

So, in the next few posts, I will be exploring different ways to enhance vocabulary instruction and strategy training for my students (and for myself as a language learner).