Friday, October 3, 2014

No More Vocab Lists

One of my goals for this school year is to limit vocabulary and to hit the high frequency words first - this also coincides with my goal of leaving behind the textbook (which I will write about in a later post). These two goals have been my focus for my Latin 1 classroom and after nine weeks of implementing them, I can see a HUGE difference in my students' acquisition of the language. 

The best thing about it though: no more vocabulary lists for students to study. 

The old way of giving students a list of 20-25 vocabulary words to learn by the end of the chapter never lead to retention but rather students "cramming and flushing" the words for a quiz. Plus, of those 20-25 words which textbooks gave students to learn, almost half of them were hardly used again following that chapter. I have found that in limiting vocabulary in a CI manner, there is no need to make lists, because students do not need them! 

So what am I doing? Each week, I am focusing on just five new vocabulary words and for now, they are high frequency words or words which I feel are important for them to know. These five target words are repeated constantly in a very comprehehsible 18-sentence story which I have written for them. Because during the week we cover that one story 5-6 different ways with a different focus each time, due to the massive repetitions, it is almost difficult for students not to acquire the words! At the end of the week, students read version #2 of the story, an embedded, more fuller version of the story. And students anticipate reading the "real" version of the story. I also add these words on my word wall so students can see what words they should "know".

What words am I picking? First, I am choosing those high frequency words in language in general and not just in Latin. Then I am taking a look at the CLC textbook to see which words I should also incorporate. 

How do I know students have acquired these words? During partner reads, I am amazed at how quickly they are processing these words. These words are also appearing in students' timed writes. I also give vocabulary assessments each week - I will address this in a later posting.

Here are the words which I have taught so far:

Week 1-2 (these were presented purely using TPR)
  1. ita
  2. minime
  3. salve
  4. sella
  5. mensa
  6. it
  7. considit
  8. surgit
  9. sumit
  10. deponit
  11. est
  12. in
  13. ad
  14. leo
  15. infans
Week 3-4
  1. dulciolum
  2. crustulum
  3. habet
  4. amat
  5. dat
  6. non
Week 5
  1. vult
  2. videt
  3. capit
  4. sed
Week 6
  1. pater
  2. mater
  3. filius
  4. filia
  5. et
Week 7
  1. puella
  2. pulchra
  3. tristis
  4. dicit
  5. "quid nomen tibi est?
  6. "mihi nomen est ____"
Week 8
  1. clamat
  2. iratus
  3. ego
  4. volo
  5. vendit
  1. In limiting vocabulary, students are able to acquire language in bite-sized chunks.
  2. Because students are just learning 5 new words a week and as those words are high-frequency words, students are not burning unncessary "memory bandwidth" in learning "random" words.
  3. Students are not overwhelmed with vocabulary like they were before when I used to give them a list of 20-25 words.
  4. Because these are high frequency words, I can use them and re-use them in stories, hence, if students do not acquire them the "first round," hopefully they will due to repetitions in later stories.
  5. In limiting vocabulary, I can actually introduce language naturally and not by when the textbook says that I should. For example, since I have introduced vult/volo already, it just seems natural to use infinitives now. If I were to wait until they appeared in the textbook, it would be not until February/March. 
Try giving limiting vocabulary a try - your students will thank you for it!

1 comment:

  1. This is very thoughtful! I do not use TPR, but have had a great deal of success limiting vocabulary to eight words every week. I too introduce complementary infinitives early, and imperatives as well (both are very easy for students to grasp and have limited forms). In my third year of teaching, at last I feel like my students are actually LEARNING the vocabulary rather than memorizing and forgetting!